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7 Best Commercial Espresso Machine for Small Business

best commercial espresso machine for small business

For any coffee shop regardless of size, the espresso machine is going to be a star player.

It often sits on the counter where your customers can see it as they walk in, and the right espresso machine can guarantee your customers are satisfied with their orders time after time.

If you’re a small operation, it’s crucial that you choose the right commercial espresso machine.

That’s why we’ve written an article all about everything you need to know about buying a the best commercial espresso machine for a small business. As a bonus, we’ve even compiled a list of our choices for the top 7 machines


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COMMON ESPRESSO MACHINE TYPES AND HOW THEY DIFFER

Before you begin your decision-making process, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the common types of espresso machines.

Having an idea of the differences between the types will help you make a choice that’s best for you.

You’ll see the following espresso machine types most often:

  • Automatic or Volumetric Espresso Machines
  • Semiautomatic Espresso Machines
  • Automatic Espresso Machines with Manual Dosing Options
  • Pour-over and Direct-Connect Machines

Let’s start with a quick guide on these types of machines and how they work.

AUTOMATIC OR VOLUMETRIC ESPRESSO MACHINES

If your shop has a higher level of traffic or you’re concerned about providing a certain quality standard drink after drink regardless of the barista, then you might be more interested in an automatic espresso machine. 

Automatic espresso machines dose the water in espresso shots themselves, ending the extraction cycle when the correct volume of water has been used. 

What generally happens is they come with single or double shot buttons, so all your baristas need to do is press a button while the machine pulls the shot. 

This equates to an unchanging level of quality in your drinks, no matter how new to the world of drink making the user is. It has the added benefit of being simpler to train new staff on, if turnover is something you’re concerned about.

 

automatic espresso machine - tip for small business

 

The downside to an automatic espresso machine is that customization is more limited as a result of the automation.

Here’s an overview of the advantages:

  • User-friendly for all experience levels
  • Unwavering quality
  • Frees employees to attend to other matters while shots are pulled
  • Can be faster than other machine types

Here are the disadvantages: 

  • Limited customization for those customers that like specialty orders
  • Usually pricier than semiautomatic machines

Ultimately, an automatic espresso machine can eliminate the variations in quality you might otherwise see in baristas of differing levels. If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop where the excellence of your drink depended on who was behind the counter, then you realize how important automation can be.

In addition, they are also easier to learn.

At the same time, the level of customization that some prosumers desire isn’t as easy to achieve with automatic espresso machines. If allowing a machine to control part of the process isn’t desirable to you, then you may not find this a good choice.

Many coffee shops feel that the user-friendliness and consistency of automatic espresso machines outweigh the disadvantages.

See Also: Commercial Espresso Machines for Sale

SEMI AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINES

For shops that aim for a boutique aesthetic or have seasoned baristas, a semi-automatic espresso machine might be more your speed.

These machines are especially popular with experts because they give more control to the person using them, which allows the best baristas to really excel.

With a semiautomatic espresso machine, baristas can choose when to begin and when to end the brew cycle for each shot. This can be accomplished through the use of lever groups or buttons.

There are machines that are even less automatic and rely entirely on baristas to apply the correct water pressure by pulling levers (these are called manual espresso machines), but they are rarely used in shops today and will not be covered in this article.

tip for using semi automatic espresso machine

That being said, if you’re interested in the manual lever style, there are some models of semiautomatic espresso machines that incorporate those elements, too.

Here are the advantages a semiautomatic espresso machine can bring to small shops:

  • More barista control over each shot
  • Opportunity for beginners to learn a new skillset and grow
  • Will make competent baristas really shine

Here are the disadvantages to a semiautomatic espresso machine:

  • Can be slower to use than an automatic machine
  • Quality can vary between drinks based on the skill of the user
  • More difficult for beginners to learn

Semiautomatic machines are a terrific option for higher end shops that find themselves making a lot of niche drinks or customizing orders for customers. They also grant baristas more control and a sense of pride upon mastering their use.

The downside is that you may need to provide more training. Newer baristas will need time to craft drinks on the same level as veterans. 

AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINES WITH MANUAL DOSING OPTIONS

If you found yourself torn between the ease of use in automatic espresso machines and the customization that comes from semiautomatic ones, then you’ll be happy to learn that there are machines that blend both types together.

These machines are basically automatic machines that come with semiautomatic options. 

They are typically controlled by the use of a button, though, so if you’re interested in levers, you may want to look at semiautomatic machines more closely.

With automatic espresso machines that have manual dosing, you still get programmable options to ensure uniformity, but you also get the choice of not using the pre-programmed options so that you can customize orders spontaneously as customers want.

Here are the advantages to this kind of machine: 

  • Option to use consistent programmed dosing 
  • Suitable for any level of skill
  • Ability to customize espresso shots on the fly

Here is the main disadvantage:

  • Can be more expensive

These machines can be a solid compromise if you’re interested in both automated and manual aspects. 

If budget is also important to you, however, one thing to keep in mind is that they can also be more expensive, as they are still automatic machines.

You’ll find that when a machine has multiple dosing options, it will also generally come with more advanced features that can contribute to a steeper price.

POUR-OVER AND DIRECT-CONNECT MACHINES

Any espresso machine, whether it’s semiautomatic or automatic, can be either pour-over or direct-connect.

A pour-over machine means that the water reservoir will need to be manually refilled by users when it’s depleted. 

tip for businesses on using pour over machine

The benefit to this is that pour-over machines don’t need to be connected to a water line, and can therefore be placed anywhere. The downside is that you’ll need to take time out of your day to refill the reservoir when it runs dry, and use your own water softener or filter.

The other option is direct-connect machines, which are thought to be ideal for coffee shops.

A direct-connect machine is hooked up to a water line, which automatically replenishes the reservoir throughout the day so you don’t have to. 

The benefit is obvious: you’ll never need to drop whatever you’re doing to refill the reservoir, so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS AND WHAT IT NEEDS

With a better understanding of the options you’ll commonly see in espresso machines, the next step is to evaluate your business.

It’s critical that you make a choice that will benefit you most, and in order to do so, you should think about the following questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • How experienced are your employees?
  • Do you have a certain image to maintain?
  • How many espresso drinks to you make (daily, weekly, or monthly)? 
  • Do specific machine certifications matter to you? 

See Also: Best Commercial Espresso Machine (Definitive Guide Not Only for Small Businesses)

WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?

Whenever we make big decisions professionally or personally, one thing that usually ranks high on the list of considerations is just how much something will cost.

Similarly, what you can afford is a subject to be thought about when you purchase an espresso machine. 

The good news is this:

There are espresso machines that can fit into any kind of budget. 

In fact, you might be surprised to find that there are many budget-friendly espresso machines that come with the features you need.

If you have a greater budget, on the other hand, more options will be available to you. In that kind of situation, you may want to lower budget on your list of priorities and look more at your other criteria first.

In the end, you don’t want to select a machine that can’t meet your demands simply because it wasn’t as much of an expenditure. The right machine, even if more expensive initially, can actually save you money down the road.

The bottom line is, while there may not be much you can do if a machine is beyond your limit, if your budget allows for it, consider machines with the features you need before considering price.

In the end, it’s up to you to determine what your small business needs, and price should be considered in light of your other needs, too.

HOW EXPERIENCED ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES?

Some espresso machines are easier to use than others.

Because of this, you’ll want to think about how comfortable you or your baristas will be using different kinds of machines. 

barista training and the right machine tip

You’ll want to think about these things when evaluating a machine in light of employee skill:

  • Machine type (Automatic or Semiautomatic)
  • Pour-Over or Direct-Connect options
  • Additional features

Are you a high-end shop with seasoned employees? Then a semiautomatic espresso machine may be a good fit.

Do you often have to hire new employees or are you concerned about consistency? If that’s the case, then you’ll find an automatic espresso machine more to your liking. 

If your employees are inexperienced or have many other tasks they need to focus on, then having to stop and refill the reservoir in a pour-over machine may be too much of a hassle. 

At the same time, if espresso sales aren’t a large portion of your business, then you may find that a pour-over machine isn’t too inconvenient on a day-to-day basis, especially considering how they are relatively inexpensive compared to direct-connect models.

Additional features and extras are something else you’ll want to pay attention to. 

These features can add a high-end fancier quality to your drinks, which may be important to you if you’re running a boutique coffee shop. Examples of these features include things such as programmable pre-infusion or built-in timers.

However, not all shops need access to these features and may find them unnecessary. 

For instance, if you’re a small family-owned shop focusing on common comforting drinks like lattes or mochas, you may find these advanced features impractical.

At the end of the day, you need to think about what sort of features you’ll realistically use often to compose a clearer picture of the best commercial espresso machine for you.

DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN IMAGE TO MAINTAIN?

Image can be very important, especially for shops cultivating a particular atmosphere.

In that case, it isn’t at all frivolous to contemplate how a machine will look on your counter.

Actually, there are many manufacturers who factor style into their designs, as well as functionality. 

tip on how your espresso machine should look

Victoria Arduino, for example, is an Italian manufacturer that creates espresso machines that are both beautiful to behold and efficient.

Nuova Simonelli is a company that designs artistic-looking espresso machines you would be proud to display before customers.

Even if you don’t think appearance is as important, imagine how it may look from a customer’s perspective. 

An impressive-looking espresso machine will amaze customers and promote the mood of your shop.

HOW MANY ESPRESSO DRINKS DO YOU MAKE?

The amount of espresso sales you make is also a factor to think about.

Not just on a daily level, either – you’ll want to step back and think about how much you sell in a week or a month. Perhaps even longer. 

On a day-to-day basis, the volume of espresso drinks you sell can vary, but as you step back, a more general trend may emerge.

If that trend is typically higher, then you’ll want to look at a machine that can make more drinks quickly.

These are the factors that affect how many drinks a machine can make:

  • Type of Boiler
  • Number of Groups

Different types of boilers can accommodate different functions. The three main types of boilers machines usually come equipped with are single, heat exchange, and dual boilers.

The boiler in a machine is what helps keep temperature consistent and make steam. 

If your machine has only one boiler, then, it will be slower, because it can only either brew or steam – not do both at the same time. 

Heat exchange and double boilers are more typically used in businesses because they can steam and brew simultaneously.

Heat exchange boilers are single boilers that have been modified to accommodate simultaneous steaming and brewing. It has a tube inside it that directs brewing temperature water to the group heads, while steaming temperature water is kept in the rest of the boiler.

Like their name implies, dual boilers have two separate boilers for steaming and brewing. 

Single boiler systems tend to be best suited for at-home use due to their slowness.

Between heat exchange and dual boiler systems, you may be wondering which one is better for a small coffee shop.

The answer is this:

It can really vary based on your shop’s needs. 

A larger capacity heat exchange boiler will beat a dual boiler system for speed if the dual boiler system uses two much smaller boilers. Heat exchange boilers also tend to be cheaper.

Generally, the bigger the boiler is, the more powerful the espresso machine is, which means you can make more drinks. 

The number of groups is another factor to think about as far as drink volume goes.

More groups means more shots of espresso can be made at once, which means more drinks can be prepared at the same time. 

For a lot of small coffee shops, a single-group espresso machine may be sufficient. If you find you have a high level of espresso sales, however, you may need two groups.

DO SPECIFIC MACHINE CERTIFICATIONS MATTER TO YOU?

Espresso machines can be certified by different agencies for different qualities.

These certifications can vary based on where you’re located, but there are some certifications that are nationally available. Certifications can let health inspectors know that your machines meet code requirements.

A certification from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) can label a machine that meets their standards. This label will indicate to health inspectors that the standards of a trusted organization have been met.

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) offers another certification that you might see. 

There are many other certifications from other organizations that are available, as well.

While you may not necessarily need all these certifications, they do offer you peace of mind in guaranteeing a machine meets a standard and will function well in a business setting. It also means that the machine will pass examinations for sanitation and safety officially.

TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS COMMERCIAL ESPRESSO MACHINES

Now that you’ve thought about your business needs and learned about different machine types, you’re ready for the best part: 

Choosing your espresso machine.

To make things easier, we’ve curated a list of what we feel are the top 7 best commercial espresso machines for small coffee shops below. There are many other options available, but the list offers a wide range of machines that will meet different needs.

NUOVA SIMONELLI OSCAR II

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine

For those concerned about budget who also want access to more advanced features, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II is a solid choice.

It’s well-suited for small shops or those who don’t have a high volume of espresso sales.

It comes with extra features like soft infusion, which gently saturates espresso before extraction, settling the grounds and eliminating errors from tamping. 

Additionally, it has programmable buttons, so you can guarantee your standard is met even with your newer baristas. 

Keep in mind it doesn’t have a separate outlet for hot water, so you will want to have a hot water tank close by. If necessary, hot water also can be used from the steam wand.

  • Machine Type: Semiautomatic, which offers your seasoned employees room to personalize drinks.
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $1,295
  • Groups: 1
  • Plumbing: Pour-over
  • Certification: NSF
  • Cup Warmer: Keep your drinks warm for as long as possible with the ability to warm cups prior to use.
  • Extended Articulating Steam Arm: A rotating steam arm makes it so you can position the milk pitcher for frothing more comfortably.
  • Programmable Dosing: Time espresso extraction so shots maintain a specific level of quality.
  • Push-Steam: Your wrists won’t be strained by having to turn a valve – instead, all you’ll need to do is push a switch to steam.

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LA SPAZIALE S1 VIVALDI II

La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II Espresso Machine VIVALDI-II

The La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II is a heavier duty machine that can handle more pressure.

With direct-connect plumbing, you’ll never need to worry about a reservoir drying up, even when you’re in the middle of your busiest rush. (La Spaziale does make a pour-over version if that’s what you need here: S1 Mini Vivaldi II)

Its volumetric dosing means drink after drink will be up to par. It even comes with a diagnosis alarm system that will know the moment a failure occurs so you can make any necessary repairs right away.

  • Machine Type: Automatic
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $2,575
  • Groups:
  • Boiler: Dual boiler, allowing you to steam and brew at the same time.
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect, which means your employees can focus on other duties without monitoring the reservoir.
  • Certification: NSF
  • Programmable Passive Pre-Infusion: You can program the length of pre-infusion anywhere from 1-8 seconds, granting you the ability to customize drinks.
  • Rotary Pump: Build up the pressure you need for extraction quietly, preserving the atmosphere of your shop.
  • Built-in Diagnostics: The Vivaldi II will tell you itself when there’s an issue, so you don’t have to play the guessing game and figure out what you need to fix. 
  • Group Temperature Adjustment: Easily make tweaks to the temperature of the group to protect against temperature fluctuations.

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LA SPAZIALE S1 DREAM

LaSpaziale Espresso Machine S1-DREAM

Stainless steel front and back panels make the La Spaziale S1 Dream a sturdy and gleaming machine that won’t fail to impress.

You’ll have control over both boiler and group temperature, allowing you to fine tune adjustments and guard the quality of your espresso. 

It’s also an automatic machine that won’t hurt your budget while still offering you the user-friendliness that automatic machines are known for.

  • Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $2,395
  • Groups: 1
  • Boiler: Dual Boiler
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect, so your machine can keep going all day.
  • Certification: NSF
  • Manual Semi-Automatic Button: Baristas who want more control can use this feature for a more hands-on experience. 
  • Group and Boiler Temperature Adjustment: Exercise complete control over the temperature in both the groups and boiler with an easy touch pad display that lets you adjust temperature in increments of one degree.
  • SD Card Reader: Access written coffee profiles or write your own with this high-tech feature.
  • Programmable Passive Pre-Infusion: Create your own pre-infusion settings so that your drinks can have a personal touch.
  • Dual Manometers: Keep an eye on both brew and boiler pressure with easy to read pressure gauges.

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LA PAVONI COMMERCIAL VOLUMETRIC 2 GROUP BAR-STAR 2V

La Pavoni Commercial Volumetric 2 Group Espresso Machine BAR-STAR 2V

If you’re an especially busy shop with lines of customers, the La Pavoni Commercial Volumetric 2 Group Bar-Star 2V will be a worthy option. 

Having two groups means you can make even more drinks at a time, serving customers more quickly and keeping them happy. 

In addition to its two groups, the Bar-Star 2V is built with a giant 14-liter copper boiler. You won’t need to worry about your steam supply needing a recharge with a boiler that size. As an added bonus, the boiler is naturally antimicrobial because of the copper construction.

It may be one of the more expensive options on this list, but it is well worth the price.

  • Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $6,500
  • Groups: 2
  • Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Certification: NSF
  • Large Capacity Boiler: With a 14-liter boiler at your disposal, you’ll never need to worry about steam depletion. As it’s made from copper, the boiler is also rust-proof and antimicrobial.
  • Anti-Vacuum Valve: Forget about high-maintenance steam wands – the anti-vacuum design in this steam wand will keep it from getting clogged with liquid all day.
  • Energy-Saving Power Switch: Let the Bar-Star 2V help you save money by lowering your electric bills with its power switch, which can reduce its energy consumption by 33% during slow periods.
  • Pre-Infusion: Saturates espresso prior to extraction to guard against errors made in tamping.
  • Thermal Stability: An independent radiator hydraulic system on each group head promotes water circulation in the boiler, preventing fluctuations in water temperature that can impact your espresso.
  • Telescopic Side Handles: Moving the machine for cleaning or maintenance is made simple with the convenient side handles.

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NUOVA SIMONELLI MUSICA LUX

Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machine - Volumetric

The Nuova Simonelli Musica Lux will shine in your shop in more ways than one.

Not only will it make every drink the best it can be as an automated machine, but some configurations come with surface LED lights to illuminate the workspace and contribute to its futuristic look.

It comes with a variety of advanced features, such as programmable pre-infusion, push-pull steam, and an adjustable water spigot so you can impress your customers with a high level of quality in each order you prepare.

  • Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $3,240
  • Groups: 1
  • Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect with pour-over options also available
  • Certification: NSF
  • Programmable Hot Water Spigot: You won’t need to step away to make Americanos or teas with a hot water spigot built right into the machine.
  • Thermo-Compensated Group: By circulating the water nonstop, temperature is kept at stable levels so unexpected cold pockets don’t impact your espresso.
  • Push-Pull Steam Lever: Froth milk using an ergonomic push-pull lever design that won’t exert your wrists.
  • Boiler Pressure Gauge: Baristas can monitor the pressure in the boiler through an easy to read visible pressure gauge.
  • Articulating Steam Wand: You can guarantee better microfoam on your milk by being able to move the steam wand to froth at the perfect angles.
  • LED Lights: Baristas will be able to see everything clearly with shining LED lights built into the Musica 

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LA MARZOCCO LINEA SINGLE GROUP SEMIAUTOMATIC

La Marzocco Linea Single Group Semi Automatic Espresso Machine

Serving long lines of customers is a simple matter for the reliable La Marzocco Linea Single Group Automatic.

It comes with a 1.8-liter coffee boiler and a 3.5-liter steam boiler, giving you a big capacity to brew and steam at the same time – a quality that’s essential when you’re at your busiest.

La Marzocco machines are also well-known for being long-lived and durable. This is a machine you can expect to last.

  • Machine Type: Semiautomatic
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $8,800
  • Groups: 1
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Certification: NSF
  • PID Technology: A proportional-integral-derivative controller (PID) makes use of an algorithm that controls and corrects the machine’s heating system automatically, so you can be worry-free about changes in temperature.
  • External Rotary Pump: Repairs are simple with a rotary pump that’s built outside the machine for easy access.
  • Barista Lights: Help prevent injuries and mistakes with a well-lit workspace provided by the Linea’s barista lights.
  • Saturated Groups: With group heads welded directly to the boiler, heat loss is eliminated.
  • Stainless Steel Hot Water Spigots: The Linea comes with not one but two hot water spigots, allowing you to make more than one tea or Americano simultaneously without needing to go to a separate hot water tank.

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NUOVA SIMONELLI APPIA II COMPACT VOLUMETRIC

Nuova Simonelli Appia II Compact Espresso Machine

If your counter is limited on space, the Nuova Simonelli Appia II Compact Volumetric can definitely fit right in.

Measuring at 21 inches tall, 22 inches wide, and 22 inches deep, you can ensure you have extra room to work with.

Just because it’s small, though, doesn’t mean the Appia II Compact Volumetric doesn’t offer a variety of features that will bolster your business.

Its push-pull steam, soft infusion system, and automated cleaning are just a few of the features you’ll get to enjoy with this machine.

  • Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $6,030
  • Groups: 2
  • Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Certification: NSF
  • Automated Cleanings: Save your baristas time at closing with a machine that can clean its group with an effortless push of a button.
  • Cool Touch Steam Wand: Painful steam wand burns aren’t an issue with a steam wand that’s cool to the touch.
  • Raised Group Heads: Fit taller cups easily underneath the group heads, so you can brew directly into the glass.
  • Push-Pull Steam: With nothing more than just gently pushing a lever, your baristas can froth milk and keep their wrists happy.
  • Soft Infusion System: Prevent improperly tamped espresso from negatively impacting your drinks with a system that pre-wets the espresso for balanced extraction.
  • Reverse Mirror: Baristas can carefully watch shots from all angles through the machine’s reflective back plate.

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★ Customer Reviews ★

MajestyCoffee Verified Customer Testomonials

122 reviews
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R
Ascaso Steel Uno Professional Espresso Machine V3 SUBFVBR3
R.R.

Ascaso Steel Uno Professional Espresso Machine V3 SUBFVBR3

Hard to hear crack. We are still new at this and machine takes some time to get used to

Mahlkonig gh2

This thing is awesome and arrived SUPER quick!

Quick and easy with a little mess.

As advertised, it tamps consistently. Each tamping process is quicker and easier than manual tamping. I like the fact the process requires only one hand, as opposed to two in manual.
The only drawback is that the tamper surface gets dirty with the grind very quickly (because it does not 'twist" as in manual). After 3 or 4 tamps we have to clean it with a rug or a brush, leaving the coffee grind around the device.
Overall, we are happy with the purchase, and my overworked wrist with a tendonitis thanks a lot. I know it is an expensive investment, but loss of my hand will cost a lot more.

GoodService

Good Service I called to inquire about the PUQ58 and got the answer right away we loved the automatic makes life a little easier for everyone
Thanks