Commercial bean-to-cup coffee machines seem to have a bit of a bad reputation. I get it – surely a barista can make a better coffee than an automatic machine? This is absolutely true of a talented barista; but these are rare beasts rarely found outside Specialty coffee shops. Most Starbucks and Costa Coffee shops now use a Commercial bean to cup coffee machine – you just can’t see it as the back of the machine faces the customer. Caffe Nero is the only one of the ‘big three’ high street operators still fully 100% committed to the manual barista service and the requisite training.
In this article, we look at the value that a commercial coffee machine can have for your business and what you should consider when choosing one…
Coffee machine or barista?
A beautiful coffee prepared badly in a manual barista machine is a truly awful experience. There’s a lot of chat in the coffee industry now around ‘the death of the barista’. This inflammatory idea needs to be treated with care. Let’s consider the staff turnover in many hospitality environments – there simply isn’t the resources to provide a sufficient level of training to enable and motivate an ever-changing team to pull consistently great shots of coffee. In most offices, a receptionist or team-member just wants a cup of coffee but doesn’t have the ambition nor interest to undertake training to do-so. The barista does still has an important role – their talent and flamboyance creates a compelling reason to visit a specialty coffee shop. But as our interest in coffee grows, and we demand a decent coffee from places not traditionally associated with espresso…it’s probably best served by an intelligent machine.
Commercial bean-to-cup machines step in when you don’t have dedicated baristas who undertake regular training, including: principles of perfect extraction, dialling in grinders, cleaning schedules and water filtration.
Commercial bean-to-cup machine technology has accelerated recently and will genuinely meet the needs of most office and leisure environments. Quality and reliability has improved dramatically and with quality beans you will get a great cup of coffee consistently. And this is the important point. A well set-up machine will make a great coffee each time as it follows a set of pre-programmed rules, created by coffee boffins, for every drink.
Commercial bean-to-cup machines can broadly be split into two tiers – those that are designed for up to 100 cups per day and are used in self-service office kitchen or light commercial environments. And those designed for up to 300 cups per day in heavy-use commercial environments. The costs and complexity of the machines reflects this division with the former costing £2,500 – £5,000. The latter will cost from £5,000 – £12,000; this higher cost usually reflects the importance of coffee as a revenue contribution to the business. The extra cash buys additional machine power to heat water and steam increasing service speed. Plus you’ll get better quality components to reduce downtime and extend machine life. Contact us today to discuss your coffee machine requirements.
Whilst most of us have lived the espresso revolution, there are other coffee machine options…Batch filter machines have moved on significantly and the new generation showcase the character of great coffee. But, many people still love their coffee as an espresso or with frothy milk in a Flat White. Latte or Cappuccino.
So, what should you consider when choosing your commercial bean to cup coffee machine?
Number of drinks served per day? Each machine has a rating – you should only consider a machine that meets your needs. If a machine’s service volumes are pushed too hard each day you will likely experience mechanical problems and a disrupted service.
Fresh or powdered milk? Fresh milk makes a superior cup but historically it brought more operational complexity with cleaning. New machines make cleaning very straightforward but the milk chiller will generally need topping up regularly if you have busy service. A great bean still makes an acceptable coffee with powdered milk.
Specialty coffee Vs commodity coffee? You should only consider Specialty coffee for many reasons [see this article]. Aside from taste and ethical reasons commodity coffee is often dark roasted creating an oily smelly bean, which can cause longer term problems with the grinder and brewer systems in your machine. A quality bean should be medium roasted with a light brown colour and a nice dry matt finish.
Maintenance contract? If coffee is an important revenue generator you will want a service contract in place that provides continuity. These contracts can be expensive depending on your machine but they will give you peace of mind with replacement machines if yours is being repaired. Smaller machines don’t necessarily need contracts but you will need to stand the cost of repair once you’re out of the manufacturer’s warranty period. If you have a full-service coffee provider such as amamus then they will provide you with all the support and advice you need to understand how to rectify problems.
What it looks like! Many of these machines will sit in snazzy office foyers or on the back-of-bar in hospitality venues. For many people, aesthetics are an important aspect – explore lots of machines as there are many options to meet your own style preferences.
Plumbed in? Some machines must be plumbed in with an in-line water filter. Others have a water tank which must be filled from a tap from time to time. Your decision will depend on volume of service and whether you can get mains water to your machine location. A stand-alone machine can create a ‘coffee hub’ within an environment where you may not have considered a coffee machine – for example, a meeting space within an office or a reception area.
amamus provides our clients with bespoke advice on choosing the right machine for their organisation and we provide support engineering services for complete peace of mind. We continually invest in our machine knowledge by attending the world’s major trade shows and we invest time meeting with manufacturers to ensure we fully understand their machines. We’re official distributors for Jura as we really do rate their machines, based on our clients’ feedback; but we’ll happily provide other options if your requirements are better met elsewhere.
Contact us here or call us on 0330 133 0281 to discuss the right commercial bean to cup coffee machine for your business, plus you can keep up to date with the latest news and coffee tips on our Linkedin.