Best Commercial Espresso Machines 2024

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We have all been into a specialty coffee cafe that we love; chill music playing in the background, the aroma of freshly ground beans, a monster of a commercial espresso machine, and slightly hipster vibes. 

But as any cafe owner will tell you, creating a space and an atmosphere like that is a lot harder than you might think. It is not just one aspect but the result of a range of components including good interior design, skilled baristas, effective workflow, good marketing, accessible location, and the right equipment to suit your particular needs.

And so in this article, we want to hone in on just one aspect of this which is choosing the right commercial espresso machine. This is an incredibly important decision and the single most important piece of equipment you will need for your cafe. 

However, it can be a surprisingly difficult decision to make; how many group heads will you need? Should you go for a manual, semi-automatic, or automatic espresso machine? Are volumetrics important? Does boiler size and type matter? 

So join us as we help navigate you through these decisions so you can find the best commercial espresso machine to suit your needs. 

Our Pick: La Marzocco Linea Classic S

The La Marzocco Linea has been an industry standard for many years. This machine has a reputation for longevity, is simple to use, and comes in a variety of configurations to suit the need of your cafe.

La Marzocco Linea Classic

Key Considerations in Choosing the Right Commercial Espresso Machine

Capacity and Number of Group Heads 

One of the first decisions to make in choosing a commercial espresso machine is how many group heads you will need. Typically, commercial espresso machines have anywhere between 1-4 group heads, with 2-3 being the most popular. In making this decision for your cafe or other store offering coffee, the most important consideration is the demand you will have to meet in your peak times. 

So while starting cafe owners sometimes think about the number of coffees being made per day, in some ways, this is less important than demand during peak hours such as 8-9 am and perhaps 12-1 pm. If there is likely to be a big influx of customers then how long are you willing to make them wait? 

A general rule of thumb is that a two-group espresso maker can usually handle up to 125 drinks per hour and 1000 drinks per day, provided two baristas are working. For this reason, the two-group machines tend to be the best choice for most cafes or coffee-serving situations and often serve as well as a three-group machine. In fact, since starting to research this article I have noticed that almost all the specialty coffee bars and cafes I regularly visit have opted for two-group machines. 

However, there are some situations where a smaller or larger machine might be more appropriate. For example, in a coffee cart or location where coffee is secondary such as a hipster barber or bookstore, a single group machine might fit best in terms of both space and demand. 

Similarly, in an exceptionally busy coffee shop, a 3-4 group machine might make the most sense. These larger machines tend to have better temperature stability and do allow more space for multiple baristas to work simultaneously. Another rule of thumb is that if you use up to 20kg of coffee per week a two-group will suffice whereas for anything above that, it is worth at least strongly considering a three-group. 

Again part of it will depend on your specific situation. In a sit-down cafe, a longer wait time is less of an issue than in an espresso bar or drive-through. A final consideration is that customer perception does play into this decision. What I mean by that is that your customers will often subconsciously view a cafe with a two-group machine as more professional than a single group.  

La Marzocco Espresso machine

Types of Commercial Espresso Machines

The next critical decision to make is which type of commercial espresso machine to opt for. There are two main types of commercial coffee makers; automatic or volumetric espresso machines, or semi-automatic espresso machines. 

Automatic Espresso Machines

An automatic espresso machine is equipped with pre-programmed buttons that automatically stop the shot after a set amount of water has been pushed through. These machines usually have programmable touch buttons allowing you to set different doses for each of your different cup sizes. 

Volumetrics, the most basic form of automation, enables you to set different volumes of water to be delivered for each of your coffee sizes. A flow meter controls the water volume, ensuring a consistent amount of water is delivered each time.

Gravimetrics, a more modern and advanced form of automation, utilizes built-in scales in the drip tray to program shots by weight rather than volume. This method offers greater precision and consistency but comes at a higher cost.

Having an automatic espresso machine can be a major advantage, especially for smaller cafes where the barista is typically receiving orders, grinding, tamping, and steaming milk perhaps while trying to maintain a conversation with customers. It does just mean one less thing to think about and provides greater consistency, especially where barista skill levels may differ. 

However, the downside of these machines is that the automated process means that pulling shots is less personalized. Especially if you are seeking to attract customers who care deeply about specialty coffee, a semi-automatic machine might be a better fit.

Automatic espresso machine

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi-automatic commercial espresso machines are very similar to automatic models with the only real difference being that they allow the barista to decide when to start and stop the given shot. Many semi-automatic espresso machines can also pull shots at the push of a button but will base it on time rather than shot volume as an Automatic espresso machine does. 

This makes the semi-automatic espresso machine particularly advantageous for more skilled baristas as it allows them to pull longer on shorter shots more easily. The semi-automatic machine just adds an extra level of control over the extraction process that will appeal to certain customers and coffee shops. It is also worth noting that semi-automatic espresso machines tend to be less expensive than automatic machines. 

Lever (Manual) Espresso Machines

Another subcategory of semi-automatic espresso machines is lever espresso machines. With these machines, the barista applies the pressure for brewing typically via a spring lever system. These rather hipster-looking espresso makers both look amazing and add a further layer of control to the extraction process. However, these machines tend to be less common than other machines as they require a higher skill level and can be somewhat exhausting to work for an entire 8-hour shift. 

The choice between these two types of machines will in large part be determined by the skill level of your baristas, your budget to work with, the expected workflow, and the customers you are seeking to attract. Although as noted the difference between these types of machines is a lot smaller than often thought.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

The final type of espresso machine sometimes utilized in a commercial setting is a super-automatic espresso machine. These machines automate every step of the extraction process from grinding to dosing, tamping, and steaming the milk. They deliver a cappuccino or latte at the push of a button. However, the quality does tend to be less than with an Automatic or Semi-Automatic espresso machine. The Super-Automatic espresso machine can be a great option for locations such as work offices or retail stores where coffee is a nice added extra rather than the main event. 

Best Commercial Espresso Machine

Type of Boiler: Heat Exchange vs Multi Boiler 

The final distinction to be aware of in getting your head around commercial espresso machines is the type of boiler utilized; heat exchange vs dual/multi-boiler.

Heat Exchange Boiler

Best for small-volume use

Heat exchange machines are essentially modified single-boiler machines, featuring a single main boiler for steaming milk, with a copper pipe coiled through the steam boiler to heat water for the group heads. This design enables heat exchange machines to simultaneously brew espresso and steam milk, unlike traditional domestic single boilers.

The concept of the heat exchange system is to heat the brewing water as it passes through the steam boiler, reaching the desired brewing temperature. However, this setup can lead to fluctuations in brewing temperatures, impacting the flavor consistency of the espresso.

Despite this drawback, heat exchange machines offer several advantages. They are typically more affordable, quicker to heat up, and more energy-efficient than other types of espresso machines. Additionally, they tend to be more compact in size.

Heat exchange machines are often considered ideal for environments such as offices or smaller cafes with steady demand, as they may struggle to keep up with very high-volume situations that require extensive steaming power.

Dual Boiler/ Multi-Boiler

Best for high-volume cafes

Multi-boiler commercial espresso machines are advanced espresso machines designed for high-volume environments such as busy cafes and specialty coffee shops. Unlike heat exchange machines, multi-boiler machines have separate boilers to heat the water for steaming milk and brewing espresso. Multi Boiler machines may have as few as two boilers or as many as one boiler per group head.

The main advantage of multi-boiler machines lies in their ability to maintain precise and consistent temperatures, even during peak operation hours. This ensures consistent espresso quality and allows baristas to efficiently handle high-volume orders without sacrificing taste or texture.

However, these machines do have some downsides. They tend to be more complex and expensive than heat exchange machines. Additionally, they require more time to warm up, occupy more space due to the presence of multiple boilers, and demand higher power consumption.

The general advice is that multi-boilers are the better option for high-volume cafes. However, this is somewhat misleading as it really depends on how big the respective boilers are. Boiler capacities can range anywhere from 1.8L to 22L depending on the size of the machine. The general principle is that the larger the boiler the more power which is important, especially for meeting larger demand. Therefore, the suitability of multi-boiler machines hinges on the specific needs and scale of the coffee operation.

The Best Commercial Espresso Machines of 2024


La Marzocco Linea Classic S

La Marzocco Linea Classic

Specs

  • Group Heads: 1, 2, 3 or 4
  • Machine Type: Automatic (AV) or Semi-Automatic (EE)
  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler
  • Brew Boiler Size: 3.4L (2 grp)
  • Steam Boiler Size: 7L (2 grp)

The La Marzocco Linea Classic is one of the most popular commercial espresso machines, boasting a 30-year legacy as a top seller in both the United States and worldwide. Often regarded as the benchmark by which all others are measured, its enduring presence speaks volumes about its reliability and performance. In 2022, La Marzocco introduced an updated iteration of this beloved classic: the Linea Classic S.

While the La Marzocco Linea Classic S is not the most technologically advanced in the La Marzocco lineup, it retains its reputation as a reliable workhorse that won’t let you down. It has a simple design that is easily operated and capable of churning out quality coffee. 

The Linea Classic S is highly customizable and available in 1, 2, 3, or 4 groups. The machine comes in either Semi-Automatic (EE) or Automatic (AV) configurations. 

Equipped with dual boilers controlled by a PID system, users have the control to quickly and easily adjust boiler temperatures. The group heads are saturated with constant water circulation offering excellent thermal stability.

The updated Linea Classic S introduces several enhancements, including user-friendly push buttons and a half-turn steam knob, reducing strain on the operator’s wrist. Moreover, it now integrates seamlessly with the Pro-App, enabling temperature and shot volume adjustments via tablet or smartphone.

Exuding a sleek and minimalist aesthetic, the Linea Classic S allows for personalization with a powder-coated body to complement the aesthetics of any cafe. With its solid build, simple design, and user-friendly interface, the La Marzocco Linea Classic S is a dependable espresso machine you can count on for years to come. 

La Marzocco Linea PB

Specs

  • Group Heads: 2, 3 or 4
  • Machine Type: Automatic (with optional Auto Brew Ratio)
  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler
  • Brew Boiler Size:  3.4L (2 grp)
  • Steam Boiler SizeL 7L (2 grp)

The La Marzocco Linea PB presents a modernized version of the iconic Linea Classic, retaining many of its timeless features while incorporating some advanced features for improved reliability, longevity, and versatility. Named in tribute to Piero Bambi, a pioneering figure in espresso machine design, this model seamlessly blends La Marzocco’s signature aesthetics with modern innovation.  

Similar to the Linea Classic, the PB version features PID-controlled dual boilers and saturated group heads, ensuring exceptionally stable temperatures and consistent steam performance even during peak usage periods. Operating on a volumetric system, the Linea PB is equipped with three backlit buttons, allowing baristas to program two different shot volumes per group head. Optional scales offer enhanced precision, giving the option to brew by volume, mass, or brew ratio.

The Linea PB also boasts a user-friendly digital interface that gives the barista direct control over shot volumes, boiler temperatures, and hot water tap dose. It also displays a shot timer when brewing. In addition to its exceptional performance, the Linea PB is also environmentally conscious. An eco-mode reduces boiler temperature when not in use, improving energy efficiency without compromising on functionality. Saturated groups and insulated boilers contribute to precise temperature stability, guaranteeing consistent extraction and exceptional flavor profiles.

Designed for easy serviceability, the Linea PB features a layout that places the solenoid valve and flow meter at the base of the group head for easy access. Maintenance is further simplified with an automatic backflush feature.

The La Marzocco Linea PB is a dependable workhorse built to withstand the demands of a busy cafe, with dual boilers, excellent temperature stability, volumetric control to streamline workflow, and a simple digital interface to easily adjust brewing parameters. This is a solid espresso machine that can be relied upon to produce quality coffee day in and day out.

La Marzocco Stada

Specs

  • Group Heads: 2 or 3
  • Machine Type: Manual paddle, Electronic paddle, semi-auto, or auto-volumetric (with optional scales and Auto Brew Ratio technology)
  • Boiler Type: Multi-Boiler
  • Brew Boiler Size:  2.6L (2 grp)
  • Steam Boiler Size: 8.2L (2 grp)

The La Marzocco Strada is a high-end commercial espresso machine renowned for its advanced features and precise control over extraction parameters. Designed for specialty coffee shops and professional baristas, the Strada offers unparalleled customization options, allowing users to adjust variables such as pressure, flow rate, and temperature for each shot. 

The Strada comes in a range of models, each offering varying degrees of control. You can choose from a Semi-Automatic or Automatic model (with the option to include scales and auto brew ratio technology). Or you can opt for an electronic or manual paddle. The manual paddle grants the barista full control over pressure profiles during extraction, while the electronic paddle electronically controls the pressure.

A standout feature of the Strada is its multi-boiler configuration, with each brew head equipped with its own PID-controlled boiler, ideal for specialty cafes brewing different beans at varying temperatures. Additionally, it boasts programmable pre-infusion and excellent temperature stability given the group heads are saturated with hot water from the brew boiler.

The Strada’s steam wand excels in performance, featuring a proportional steam valve for precise milk steaming, and cool-touch functionality for added safety. With its striking design and low profile, baristas can engage with customers while brewing. Furthermore, its IoT capability ensures future-proofing for evolving technological needs.

With its innovative technology, sleek design, and exceptional performance, the La Marzocco Strada represents the pinnacle of espresso machine engineering for discerning coffee enthusiasts and professionals alike.

La Marzocco Linea Mini

La Marzocco Linea Mini

Specs

  • Group Heads: 1
  • Machine Type: Semi-Automatic Paddle
  • Boiler Type: Dual-Boiler
  • Brew Boiler Size:  6 fl oz (0.17 L)
  • Steam Boiler Size: 3.5L 

The La Marzocco Linea Mini is a compact yet powerful espresso machine designed for low-volume use. Drawing inspiration from La Marzocco’s commercial Linea Classic, the Linea Mini offers a scaled-down version of its iconic design and performance.

Equipped with a dual-boiler system, the Linea Mini ensures precise PID temperature control for both brewing espresso and steaming milk. This ensures consistent extraction and frothing capabilities, mirroring the performance of commercial-grade machines. The semi-automatic brew paddle includes an electronic pre-infusion, but requires the barista to manually start and stop each shot. 

Featuring a built-in reservoir for water supply, the Linea Mini is suitable for scenarios such as coffee carts where direct access to water may be limited. Alternatively, a plumbing kit is available for those desiring a direct water connection. Its sleek stainless steel exterior and classic La Marzocco design elements add sophistication to any café setting.

Recently updated in 2024, the Linea Mini introduces enhanced features including an integrated shot timer, programmable pre-infusion system, brew-by-weight functionality, and easy access to pump pressure adjustment. The updated model also boasts refreshed aesthetics and a cool-touch steam wand. 

With its compact size and professional-grade performance, the La Marzocco Linea Mini offers an accessible entry point into espresso brewing.

Nuova Simonelli Appia Life

Specs

  • Group Heads: 1, 2 or 3
  • Machine Type: Available in both Automatic and Semi-Automatic and a compact version
  • Boiler Type: Heat Exchange Boiler
  • Boiler size: 11 L (2 group)

While not quite as well known as La Marzocco, Nuova Simonelli is another Italian espresso machine manufacturer that has come to be associated with excellent quality. Orlando Simonelli built his first espresso machine back in 1936 and ever since this company has been crafting coffee makers that are ergonomic, well thought out, and well made. It is not a coincidence that they will pop up several times on this list. 

This Appia Life is one of their more popular models and is a no-frills espresso machine that utilizes some of Nuova Simonelli’s cutting-edge technology and is known to be a workhorse. Some of the features of this machine include its Soft Infusion system which is a form of pre-infusion, automatic volumetric dosing, cool-touch steam wands, and automatic backflushing which precludes the need to manually purge the group heads. It is also a fairly compact 2-group machine which makes it ideal for situations where space is an issue.

It also comes with 2 cool touch steam wands although the size of the machine could make it a tight fit for two baristas side by side. The Appia Life has a separate hot water wand which is helpful for serving both tea and Americanos. It also comes with an optional automatic steam wand which textures the milk and brings it to the right temperature offering an easy learning curve for those new to espresso. The Appia Life is a commercial espresso machine that is fast at producing drinks and easy to train new employees on. 

The Appia Life is a good commercial espresso machine for small to medium-sized establishments looking for quality without completely breaking the bank. It is easy to operate, makes superb coffee, and provides excellent consistency. 

Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave 

Specs

  • Group Heads: 2 or 3
  • Machine Type: Semi-automatic or Automatic (volumetric)
  • Boiler Type: Heat Exchange Boiler
  • Boiler size: 14L (2 group)

The Aurelia Wave forms the flagship of the Nuova Simonelli commercial range. This is a carefully engineered commercial espresso machine with great care taken in every design decision. Its sleek aesthetic, characterized by a distinct wave shape adds a touch of sophistication to any cafe. Available in various configurations, including volumetric and semi-automatic models, the Aurelia Wave offers versatility to suit different preferences and needs.

At the heart of this coffee maker sits a large copper heat exchange boiler. This huge capacity boiler means this espresso machine has a fast recovery time and can make back-on-back shots easily keeping up with the demands of a medium to high-volume coffee shop. The Aurelia Wave boasts several impressive brewing features, including a programmable soft infusion system for an even extraction and Pulse Jet technology for precise control over flow rate and water pressure during brewing.

Equipped with a large LCD display, baristas can effortlessly program and customize shot volumes, boiler temperature, pre-infusion time, and energy-saving settings. The volumetric model allows for the programming of four espresso shot volumes per group, ensuring consistency with every shot.

With impressive steam power, ergonomic steam levers, and cool-touch wands, the Aurelia Wave delivers exceptional steaming capabilities. The volumetric model takes it a step further with the option of automatic micro-foaming through the EasyCream system, ensuring consistently textured milk regardless of barista skill level.

Additionally, the machine’s Smart Water Technology enhances water quality, optimizing flavor and ensuring longevity. It also comes with automatic backflushing of group heads which helps workflow and seems a no-brainer in a commercial setup.

The Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave is an ideal choice for medium to large cafes serious about delivering exceptional coffee experiences.

Victoria Arduino Black Eagle

Specs

  • Group Heads: 2 or 3
  • Machine Type: Volumetric or Gravimetric
  • Boiler Type: Multi-Boiler
  • Brew Boiler Size: 0.7L  
  • Steam Boiler Size: 11.4L (2 group)

The Victoria Arduino Black Eagle is another standout espresso machine, captivating with its glossy stainless steel exterior that exudes sophistication. Its sleek design features rectangular lines on the side panels, reminiscent of an eagle’s wings in flight, while the low-profile open environment invites baristas to engage with customers while working the machine.

Equipped with a TFT display and rotary switch, the Black Eagle offers straightforward control over various parameters such as brew weight, brew boiler temperature, group head temperature, and pre-infusion. The massive steam boiler ensures virtually endless steam for both wands, allowing the machine to keep up in demanding café environments.

You can choose between either Volumetric or Gravimetrics technology. The Gravimetric technology is a standout feature with built-in scales in the drip tray, delivering higher precision and more accurate measurements. The weight is displayed in real-time on the digital display above the group head. Baristas can program up to four to six weights, depending on the machine, for consistent, repeatable results.

The Black Eagle’s T3 temperature technology provides independent control over the steam boiler and each brew boiler. With each group having its own 0.7L brew boiler, it is easy to offer a range of coffees on the menu. 

With its solid construction and features like saturated group heads, cool-touch steam wands, and a soft infusion system, the Black Eagle is built to handle non-stop drink production in high-volume environments. Its LCD display and built-in scales add to its user-friendly design, making it a top choice for discerning baristas seeking both performance and aesthetics in their espresso machine.

La Pavoni Bar 3L-B Lever

Specs

  • Group Heads: 3
  • Machine Type: Semi-Automatic
  • Boiler Type: Heat Exchange Boiler
  • Boiler size: 22.5L

This Italian espresso company has been in business since 1905 and it shows in the reliability of their machines. This beautiful and highly Instagramable commercial espresso machine is the only lever machine on our list. As such it is the commercial coffee maker for the cafe that is committed to specialty coffee. Although this looks like a manual espresso machine, no commercial settings use fully manual machines for the simple reason that it would be a nightmare for baristas. To make a single coffee on a manual espresso machine like the Flair is novel and hipster, to make a hundred an hour using the pressure of your arms is a killer. 

So instead the pressure for extraction comes not from the barista’s arms but instead from a spring piston in the machine. However, regardless of this, the advantage of the lever machine is increased control over the pulling of each shot. This makes it a great option for a cafe or coffee shop that already has a well-trained team of baristas looking to showcase their skills. It comes with two steam wands as well as a hot water tap for teas and Americanos.

In addition, this model features an anti-vacuum to prevent the need to purge the steam wand, thermal stability, high-quality chromed brass groups, and four different power settings for saving energy. Again this size of commercial coffee machine could easily deal with the large demand that might be expected from a medium to large coffee shop.

Slayer Steam LP

Specs

  • Group Heads: 2 or 3
  • Machine Type: Semi-Automatic or Automatic Volumetric 
  • Boiler Type: Multi-Boiler
  • Brew Boiler size: 1.7L per group
  • Steam Boiler Size: 7.4L (2 group)

No list of the best commercial espresso machines would be complete without a Slayer espresso machine. Despite being relatively new to the scene, this Seattle-based company has quickly made a name for themselves, even earning a signature shot named after them- the Slayer Shot distinguished by an extra long pre-infusion. 

The Slayer Steam LP is their flagship espresso machine, coveted by specialty coffee enthusiasts worldwide. Renowned for its innovative features, it first made waves with its patented flow profiling technology, utilizing a needle valve. Each brew paddle on the group head correlates to how wide the opening in the needle valve, granting baristas direct control over water flow rate. This accessibility to manual pressure profiling on a commercial scale allows for the exploration of new flavor profiles, with the ability to grind finer and pull longer shots.

The Slayer Steam LP also excels in repeatability, with volumetric outputs easily replicated by recording and playing back recipes dialed in by baristas. The Barista Dashboard above each group head makes it easy to access and adjust settings on the fly. 

Key features include individual brew boilers with PID temperature control, push-button volumetrics across group heads, a large drip tray, and electronic solenoid steam valves which are more reliable. Its low-profile design allows baristas to engage with customers.

With its sleek modern aesthetics, advanced brewing techniques, and easy repeatability, the Slayer Steam LP represents the pinnacle of espresso machine craftsmanship and remains a dream machine for many baristas.

Jura z10

jura z10

Specs

  • Group Heads: n/a
  • Machine Type: Super-Automatic
  • Boiler size: n/a

The final espresso machine on this list is somewhat unique being the only Super-Automatic espresso machine. Basically, this means that the extraction process is completely automated from bean to cup. It comes with an inbuilt grinder and does everything from grinding the beans to tamping to steaming the milk at the push of a button. The biggest advantage of this setup is that it requires zero barista expertise and so is a no-hassle way to add coffee to your business or office. 

Jura is a Swiss company that has been particularly focusing on Super-Automatics for some time now and so has come to be well-regarded in the field. The Jura z10 comes with a large 4.3” touchscreen display which is intuitive and easy to use. From here you can customize and save beverages. The Z10 offers an extensive menu of 32 specialty coffee drinks, including both hot and cold options.

With a plethora of customizable options, users can adjust grind size, coffee strength (across 10 levels), brewing temperature (across 3 levels), milk temperature (across 10 levels), and milk foam volume. A notable feature is the grinder’s automatic adjustment of grind size to match the selected beverage. Additionally, automatic descaling and rinsing are programmed into the machine, simplifying maintenance tasks.

Again, the strength of this machine is its usability and zero skill requirements, but the downside is that it can’t really compare to a commercial espresso machine manned by a trained barista.

Other Considerations for Purchasing a Commercial Espresso Machine

Now that you have a bird’s eye view of some of the best commercial espresso machines you come to the hard part which is knowing which espresso machine will work best for your particular situation. Here are a few considerations to help you out.

Barista Skill Level

One of the most important considerations in picking the right machine for your scenario is what is the current skill level of your baristas. Do you already have a team of highly skilled baristas or are you looking at training up waiters and shop assistants?  If the latter then are you willing to pay the money and take the effort to train baristas to a high skill level? 

This will be a major consideration in deciding which type of commercial espresso machine to go for. If you have a fairly low skill level then an automatic machine such as the Appia life may be the ideal choice. But even with an automatic machine, you will still need to train baristas, especially if you want the coffee to be consistent and to draw customers back. 

For more skilled teams of baristas, semi-automatics or more expensive models are not a bad option as they will allow you to better showcase your skills and hopefully outdo other nearby coffee shops. 

Coffee Grinder

Another sometimes overlooked aspect of serving coffee is the choice of grinder. It is no use having a two-group machine that can pump out 125 drinks per hour if you have paired that with a grinder that can only handle 50 drinks per hour. To do so will bottleneck your workflow and increase the wait time for your customers. As with espresso machines, it is important to realize the difference between a domestic and a commercial setting. While home grinders may have excellent burrs or be good grinders they will seldom be suitable for commercial settings. 

So make sure you pair your commercial coffee machine with an adequate commercial grinder like the Mazzer Robur S.

Commercial espresso machine paired with commercial coffee grinder

Budget

One of the trickiest things to figure out is how much money to invest in your commercial espresso maker. Especially if you are a start-up you are likely already putting a lot of money into rent, renovations, staff, advertising, and other necessary equipment. As such it can be tempting to skimp a little on your coffee machine and grinder. 

Ultimately the money you are willing to invest in your coffee machine will depend on your particular situation. Are you a specialty coffee cafe aiming to reach the specialty coffee cult? If so, investing in a top-of-the-range machine is non-negotiable. However, if you are already an existing store and just want to add coffee to the menu, then a smaller or more inexpensive machine may make more sense. However, as with everything else in life you get what you pay for. So if you do opt for a cheaper machine then realize that life expectancy will likely be shorter and maintenance may be more.

Water: Pour Over vs Direct Connect 

There are two different ways that commercial espresso machines can be filled with water. The first is pour-over which consists of large water reservoirs that baristas refill throughout the day. This works well in smaller contexts where demands are fairly low and there is the time to do this. Similarly in places such as coffee carts where plumb in water is not possible. 

However, in most scenarios direct connection is preferable and just far simpler. Direct connect means that the water is plumbed in and delivered automatically to the machine. This can be an additional cost but does just make life simpler and is the norm for most commercial settings. Let’s be honest, a barista is busy enough throughout the day without having to fill up the machine repeatedly. 

Ergonomics

Finally, the size and type of commercial coffee machine you opt for will depend on how many baristas you envisage working the machine at one time. Especially if you are expecting a high demand and that often two baristas will be working the machine at once then a three-group machine is worth at least considering just for space reasons. 

Similarly, because the barista will be behind the machine for hours, even small considerations such as push/pull steam levers can make life far more comfortable as opposed to twist knobs. Find a machine that will make life as simple and comfortable for your baristas as possible. They will thank you!

The Takeaway

So what is the best commercial espresso machine? Well, it depends on what you are trying to achieve with your store or cafe and what your demand will be. 

We believe that any of the above machines could work well in different situations. However, our top pick is the La Marzocco Linea Classic S. This machine is well-built, easy to use, looks amazing, and has a long-standing reputation for excellence. 

Good luck on your cafe or coffee journey! If you are looking for further advice on starting a coffee shop then we recommend the book What I Know About Starting Coffee Shops by Colin Harmon.  

If you have any questions then comment below!  

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