How to choose the best coffee machine for your café

Michael Elligett

As a café owner, your primary goal is to serve exceptional coffee for your customers. If an artist needs the highest quality painting materials in order to create their masterpiece, café owners also need the best tools and equipment to create excellent coffee concoctions.  

To do this, you have to invest in high-quality coffee ingredients and equipment. Having a durable and efficient coffee machine is key to preparing delicious, excellent drinks (even at high volumes) that will wow your customers and keep them coming back for more. It also offers the highest return on any investment in your business.

However, with so many options available in the market, it’s hard to select the best one for your café. This is why we created a guide to help you decide on how to choose the best coffee machine for your business. 


Choosing coffee machine for your cafe


Factors to consider when buying a coffee machine

Type of machine

Coffee machines come in different types and different functionalities. There are four types of commercial espresso machines: manual, semi-automatic, automatic and super-automatic. 

Manual espresso machines may require more artistry, delicate handling and strength when preparing the espresso. This type of machine will have variability in output because of the manual brewing pressure needed in the process. So the taste of the espresso will depend on the pressure the barista will put on while extracting. If you want to have a manual machine for your café, you also need to consider the expertise of your baristas. 
This one still needs the barista to do some controlling, but basically, it is to start and stop the extraction and brewing process. With the semi-automatic coffee machine, the pressure comes from a mechanical pump. This will have more consistency in the brewing pressure. Since this is semi-automatic, the barista’s attention is still very much needed to control the yield. A skilled barista will be more flexible to make adjustments as they go.  
This type of machine is very popular in specialty coffee shops as it creates consistency in taste, yield and brewing pressure. There are different preferences on the functionality of automatic coffee machines - a machine that has a fixed dose of water per espresso or a machine that weighs your coffee dose and measures the amount of water needed for brewing. 
Super-automatics on the other hand are like coffee robots. At the touch of a button, this machine will allow you to grind, dose, tamp, brew and steam a beverage. Your baristas have little-to-no control over the beverages as the machine will do everything by itself.


How much are you willing to spend on your coffee machine? Deciding how much of your budget can go toward a coffee machine will help you narrow your options.

Volume of customers

You need to think about how many drinks you expect to make. You can do this by observing and taking notes about the customer volume at your location at different times of the day. From this, you’ll be able to understand the peak volume time and how many customers your shop will need to serve. In the long run, when business is picking up, you might have to change your machine as well if it’s already underperforming versus your number of customers per day. 

How to find the best coffee machine for your business

Finding the best coffee machine can be challenging, especially when you are new to the industry. By doing some research and partnering with the right people, you’ll be able to find the coffee machine that suits your business needs.

Do your own research

There are various coffee machines to choose from with so many options and features to consider. So where do you start? 

Before you check out that coffee machine in your shopping cart, you need to do your own research first. Find out what machine will match your budget and if it will best suit your business goals. 

Establish a relationship with a supplier

Suppliers will not only offer you coffee ingredients, some can also lend you a hand when it comes to choosing equipment for your café. You need to partner with someone who will help you understand the features and capabilities of each machine available, and decide on what machine to get. 

Loaning vs purchasing a coffee machine

Café suppliers offer coffee machines that can be purchased or loaned. So what’s the difference between loaning and purchasing a coffee machine? 

This option is a popular choice among beginner coffee shop owners. If you have no idea what coffee machine will suit your coffee shop, you can loan from a supplier and test out a specific model for your business. Some suppliers will allow you to test out which machine suits you well and you only need to pay the monthly fee. 
Some also have an option of leasing it to you for a long period of time. This option is when you pay a deposit upfront and do monthly installments to pay off the cost of the machine. When the contract is finished and you have made the full payment, the equipment belongs to you. 
If you’re already confident and you know what type of machine is best for your business, then purchasing a machine would be beneficial for you. This is much economical and practical in the long run, especially when business picks up. You get to have control over what model you want and you don’t have to stick to the rental and leasing options. 
At the end of the day, your decision will depend on how much you are willing to spend and what you envision foot traffic would be in your coffee shop.


Need more information on how to choose the right coffee machine for your business? The Café Supplier is here to help you. Contact us here.

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