5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Commercial Coffee Machine

There are a number of considerations to keep in mind before you purchase a commercial coffee making machine.

By Kinnek Knowledge Team  |  June 08, 2018

If you’re looking into the purchase of a commercial coffee machine, then you may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the surprising variety of choices available to you — in today’s market, after all, vendors are selling a range of coffee machines to businesses, from fully-automated self-service machines, to manual coffee machines meant to be used by trained baristas.

Before you commit to a particular purchase, consider the following.

Using Pre-Ground Coffee Beans

When deciding on which coffee machine to purchase, you’ll want to evaluate whether you’ll be purchasing pre-ground or whole coffee beans for your roast.  Pre-ground coffee beans lose a bit of freshness, flavor, and aroma (through the loss of essential oils), but they can be stored more easily, and are slightly more convenient during a busy service, as you won’t have to make use of a coffee grinder on-site.

If you do intend to use whole beans, you’ll want to either purchase an independent coffee grinding machine, or a coffee maker that comes with a built-in grinder — for example, some high-end espresso machines allow the user to pour whole coffee beans into the machine and they will be automatically ground up in the machine before the brewing process begins.

Generally speaking, if you’re committed to “quality” coffee, you’ll be expected to grind your beans in-house, so keep that in mind.

Creating a Cohesive Brew for Customers

Food service establishments that serve coffee should understand their target audience and develop a coffee product that is aligned with their audience (and their unique expectations), to some degree.  For example, if your coffee shop is located in a busy train station, is exclusively a pick-up-and-go shop, and is not branded in such a way as to emphasize the coffee quality, you can probably get away with a simple filter coffee machine, or even a self-service extractor.  On the other hand, if you are intending to open an indie coffee shop with well-crafted coffee and a discriminating clientele, then you’ll probably want to look into drip coffee options, aero-press, and high-end espresso machines.

If you have any specific questions, speak with an experienced vendor for details!

Employee Training

Employee training is a significant issue that too many food service establishments fail to consider when implementing new machines/products.  In the coffee making context, automated or otherwise basic machines will likely be “easy enough” to teach employees to use, but as a general rule, in an environment where customers expected high-quality coffee, they also expect that employees will be trained and utilized exclusively as baristas — customers will not necessarily be pleased to see fluid roles, as that implies that sufficient care is not being taken when making the coffee.

Production Requirements

It’s important to fully evaluate how much coffee you’ll have to product at peak service times.  Do not purchase a coffee machine on the basis of “ideal” service situations — if it’s possible for customer demand to spike at times (during a busy service), then it’s better to be equipped to handle those spikes in demand than to lag behind.

Behind-the-Counter vs. Self-Service

If you are operating a very casual eatery, cafeteria, or stop-and-go shop, then self-service coffee machines may be your best option, as they save your employees the trouble of having to work the machines themselves.  Make sure to setup supplementary products near the self-service machines (i.e., cups, lids, coffee sleeves, sugar, milk, etc.) so that customer don’t have to request that staff provide them with such items.

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