Commercial Coffee Shop? You Must Read This Guide
A commercial level coffee machine suitable for businesses is quite a different beast to the home coffee machines. Commercial Espresso Machines are designed to be used by professional Baristas and a functional tool. When choosing a commercial coffee machine you need to estimate how many cups of coffee you are going to need to make in an hour, or at this stage, more roughly, a day.
The volume of coffee made will decide the size of coffee machine you need for your business. Professional Barista espresso machines are split into categories depending on how many ‘groups’ they have. Group refers to the espresso head, which is where the coffee comes out. Each group has its own coffee basket and set up. Home espresso machines only have 1 group where as in a busy coffee shop you may find espresso machines with up to 3 groups. For mid level coffee shops a 2 group machine will normally do just fine.
Gaggia Commercial Espresso Machine
Commercial Coffee Machines, even 1 group machines, are a huge step up from home espresso makers. You won’t find so many pre-set options or automatic modes so using a professional machine is a skill and getting a really excellent cup of coffee is an art that only practice and experience will help.
If you are looking for a coffee machine for a business, like a coffee shop then you need to consider whether the machine will be on show to the public. Nothing conjures up the romantic notion of an Italian Coffee shop more than a beautiful, gleaming espresso machine gushing steam and filling the room with an incredible aroma of fresh coffee.
Just the sights and smells of a professional espresso machine are often enough to persuade customers to buy a coffee! So, some professional barista machines are beautifully sculpted pieces of art in them selves, just think of a classic 2 group Gaggia espresso machine or a Gaggia Deco coffee machine.
Other pro coffee makers are more functional in their appearance and are more suited to being placed in the kitchen out of sight. In skilled hands they will produce coffee of equal quality but you are not spending extra money on the artistic qualities of the machine..
Ease of use
Commercial Coffee machines are made for ease of use, they are designed for producing coffee in the most efficient manner possible and the machine is laid out so that everything is in a logical order and easy to reach for the barista.
Commercial Coffee Production Ability
You may also want to consider the cups per hour rating of the machine, this is how many cups of coffee it can make in 1 hour, although for this actually to occur you’d need a barista of almost super human ability. However, it is a useful guide to many of the machines abilities, such as how fast it heats the water, how powerful the water pressure pump is and how quickly one can steam milk. If you are expecting to make a lot of lattes, which are almost always the most popular coffee these days, then consider choosing a machine with 2 milk frothing arms, although you will need 2 skilled barista on shift to make the most of this.
There’s nothing worse than a luke warm espresso! Professional coffee machines have a rack, usually on top, where cups can be placed to warm up before being used. This is an often overlooked but essential feature if you are serious about making great coffee. You will also find that using a warm cappuccino cup will help the froth to stay firm and airy for longer, especially useful if you are going to be spending some time on latte art before serving to the customer.
Cleaning a Commercial Espresso Machine
At the end of the day your tired Barista is not going to be happy if the coffee machine is complicated to clean. The best commercial espresso machines offer simple cleaning, with many removable parts that can be placed in a dish washer. This is important as stale milk, or milk residue in the frothing arm will go bad over night and the terrible smell and flavour taint can be hard to remove again, as well as the fact that it will ruin the coffees produced that day. Much like cleaning the taps in a pub, cleaning an espresso machine should be a daily occurrence, but often isn’t. Having a machine that is simple, quick and easy to clean means that staff are more likely to do it regularly and not skip it at the end of a busy day when a good sit down and dinner is calling!
Commercial Coffee Machine Accessories
RSI, Repetitive Strain Injury among Baristas is all too common. The key to avoiding this is by not skimping on the accessories around the espresso machine. You need to have a quality tamper that fits comfortably into the barista’s hand, you need to have the coffee grinder next to the espresso machine and the tap bucket for used coffee grains ideally should be directly beneath the grinder.
The milk needs to be kept in a fridge, ideally this would be under the espresso machine. Not only does a good coffee shop layout help the barista, it will help your customers enjoy their coffee in a more relaxed environment that exudes quality and competence. There is nothing worse than a fluster barista running about behind the counter, juggling milk and coffee cups, it doesn’t give the coffee shop a very good appearance.
Where as if the person making the coffee can stand in one place, everything is within arms reach then the coffee can be made faster, with less fuss and without the barista having to turn away from the customer, allowing a conversation to naturally form. Interaction with customers is an important part and having a coffee machine in a prominent part of you business can really boost the levels of satisfaction with customers.
Just look at Starbucks, they write your name on your cup to try and garner some sort of connection between the business and the customer, I don’t think they do this very well these days and that’s where independent coffee shops can really shine.
A beautiful, well designed, well laid out coffee machine, placed in a well laid out counter with a skilled barista will produce coffee that can be world class (depending on your beans) and will really make customers feel warm and welcome whilst capturing the romantic steam and smells of a small town Italian coffee shop. Priceless!