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Commercial Coffee Machine Buyers Guide

Management 10 minute read 5th October 2021

Coffee is big business these days and with more customers moving away from the high street coffee chains and towards independent coffee shops this might be the time to think about pouring a bit of cash into the industry.

In the USA alone the coffee shop industry is worth a massive $47.5billion, so there’s plenty reason to get in now.

Whether you’re setting up a coffee shop or looking to add a coffee outlet to an existing premises, there’s one essential item you’ll need: the coffee machine.

How much does a commercial coffee machine cost, and what are your options? That’s what we’re going to investigate in the following gudie, so let’s get straight down to business.

Examples of commercial coffee machines

Commercial coffee machines are designed to deliver regular orders quickly, without compromising on quality.

Regardless, the customer is usually willing to wait a short while for a good coffee, so where do you start looking for the best machine?

We’ve undertaken some research into the coffee machine market for you and have found a few examples of machines that are leading the market. First, let’s check out three machines in the lower, middle and upper price range.

Affordable coffee machines

In the sub-$5k bracket you’re looking for a machine with decent capacity; one that will be suitable for the smaller coffee shop, and ideally with two steam wands for convenience.

How much to spend on a coffee machine - Affordable machines

Fiamma is a leading name in commercial coffee machines and the Mia7 is a great choice in this price range (although other makes and models are available!).

With a capacity of 17 liters, automatic cleaning, tall cup facility plus 2 steam wands and a 5200watt power output, products like the Mia7 are a great example of why you don’t have to spend a fortune to get something that’s robust and reliable. We found one at a list price of $3,200 - for a brand-new machine!

Mid-range coffee machines

In the $5 to $10k price range you’ll find coffee machines suitable for the medium-size shop. Look for automatic steam and dosage features, and simple programming options for ease of use.

The Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II is a popular choice in this price range and comes with all the features you want, and retails at just under $10,000.

How much to spend on a coffee machine - Mid-range machines

High-End coffee machines

For the coffee shops serving at high volume and looking to set a trend, there are coffee machines that not only do the business but look the part too.

For sheer style and maximum capability have a look at the San Remo Café Racer which not only offers every function you could possibly want on a commercial coffee machine but is also designed to look superb as a feature in your store.

At around $21,000 this is a high-end machine that’s suitable for even the busiest coffee retailers, cafes or restaurants. But do shop around, because this is only one example.

Clearly, it’s possible to spend a great deal on a new commercial coffee machine, and not everyone has $20,000 or even $10,000 in their budget just for the machine itself.

If your eyes are watering, let’s have a look at what pre-owned and used coffee machines have to offer.

How much to spend on a coffee machine - High-end machines

Should you consider second-hand espresso machines?

There are plenty of retailers in the USA who refurbish used coffee machines, and this can be a great way to obtain a quality machine at a lesser price.

Cost savings are the main advantage to buying second hand but be aware that you will not get a warranty as long or comprehensive as what comes with a new machine.

Regardless, we did find some interesting examples, including the Wega Polaris Tron EVD-2, which is a quality coffee machine that’s popular with medium-sized coffee shops.

It comes with all the automatic features you need, takes tall cups, along with being very well-made and reliable. We found a refurbished example for a little under $5,000. That is a good saving over similarly priced and specified machines that are twice the price new or more.

Also available was a refurbished San Remo Café Racer at $9,500 which is a colossal saving of over $11,000 on the list price.

In general, we found that refurbished machines are usually around 40% to 50% cheaper than most brand-new models.

But what are the pros and cons of used machines?

Pros of used coffee machines:

there’s usually a massive cost saving to be had; you’ll probably find a better spec for your budget; and it’s always possible to find a little-used demo model.

Cons of used coffee machines:

there may only be a 6-month warranty (or none at all); there probably won’t be and manufacturer back-up; and you’re taking a chance on what’s on offer.

Would a consumer coffee machine be sufficient?

If you have a very low output – perhaps you run a charity outlet or other retail store that has a coffee machine for consumer use – then a consumer coffee machine may be a more cost-effective answer.

If you’re serving many cups a day, however, even the smallest coffee outlet will benefit from a commercial machine.

A typical example of a consumer machine that can be installed in a shop is the Sage Barista Pro which is a popular model for home use and in smaller retail outlets. Though it wouldn’t cope with a full coffee shop demand it could be ideal for a smaller operation and should only set you back around $1,000.

Pros of consumer coffee machines

  • they’re generally cheap to buy;
  • they’re far easier to use; and
  • they can be customer operated, if needed.

Cons of consumer coffee machines

  • they probably won’t cope with medium or high capacity;
  • you’ll need to clean them far more regularly; and
  • they may not be suitable for tall cups.

However, there’s one more option – hiring or leasing a coffee machine. So, let’s get into that.

Should you hire or lease coffee machines?

Hire deals for commercial coffee machines are usually available on a short or long-term basis.

The advantage here is that you don’t have to lay out thousands up front on one item, as a lease deal is paid for monthly or weekly and will have less impact on your cash flow.

The disadvantage is that you don’t own the machine and still have the associated ongoing costs.

Nevertheless, leasing is still a viable option for a small to medium coffee shop that’s just starting up.

The cost of renting or leasing a good quality machine will be in the region of $150 to $500 per month depending on the model and the deal.

Wrapping Up

From our research, it’s clear that commercial coffee machines – even the less expensive models – require serious funds!

If money is tight, we recommend you investigate the leasing option or if you really want to buy a machine, consider the refurbished route for some compelling savings.

We hope that we’ve helped you get a handle on the coffee machine market and understand the options you have. Good luck with your venture and enjoy serving quality coffee from whichever machine you end up with!

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