The United Kingdom consumes 95 million cups of coffee per day. Almost 35 million of these are drunk away from home. That means the UK drinks over a billion cups of coffee at work, uni, and cafes every month.
Clearly, there’s an enormous market for commercial coffee machines. Offices want to keep their employees happy. Universities want to keep their students alert. Cafés wish to sell their number one product.
If you find yourself in the market for one or more commercial coffee machines, get in touch with us at 0800 955 2129. We’ll happily discuss our range of products and the various benefits of purchasing, leasing, and buying with you.
A Guide to Commercial Coffee Machines
All coffee machines work on the same basic principle. Boiling water is passed through ground coffee beans, infusing it with flavour, and deposited into a container of your choice. Depending on your preferences, milk – in various forms and quantities – can be added.
Of course, there’s much more to it than this oversimplified primer, but it’s essential to grasp the basics at this point. Commercial coffee machines all enable the above process, but with a wide variety of nuanced mechanisms thrown in for greater convenience or quality.
Barista-Operated Commercial Coffee Machines
These coffee machines need a specialist operator. This person is either dedicated to making coffee, or the drinker has the necessary know-how to operate them. Regardless, these machines require some skill and training if the end product has to be a drinkable cup of coffee.
Manual Coffee Machines
You’re not going to get away without a professionally trained barista if you get yourself one of these coffee machines. It takes genuine knowledge and experience to make a cup of coffee with a fully manual machine.
The major difference between a manual coffee machine and it’s more accessible counterparts is that water pressure is applied by hand using a lever. The barista must have mastered the art of extracting the correct amount of flavor from the coffee using this mechanism.
At the same time, the barista also needs to bear in mind other factors that affect the final product’s flavour. Water temperature is essential, as is the type and amount of coffee used, and how tightly the grounds have been compacted into the machine.
All of these factors and how they interact with each other have a surprisingly profound effect on whether or not the cup of coffee is drinkable or not.
Given these machines’ reliance on a very niche set of skills, they’re not particularly popular anymore. However, they lend a certain old-world charm to the coffeemaking process and the establishment’s ambiance. With a skilled operator involved, they can also make the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
Semi-Automatic Coffee Machines
Semi-automatic coffee machines are still heavily reliant on the barista’s skill, but less so than their fully-manual counterparts. The major difference is that the water pressure is controlled automatically by the machine itself.
However, as we mentioned before, there are still many factors involved in making a great cup of coffee other than water pressure. These machines are best left to the pros – especially if they intend to serve cappuccinos, lattes, or other coffee drinks that involve the expert preparation of milk and foam.
Semi-automatic coffee machines are trendy in high-end establishments that serve a large number of customers. They’re easier to use and, when operated by a good barista, they’re easier to use and deliver fantastic cups of coffee.
Automatic Coffee Machines
On to the most popular type of commercial coffee machine. While an automatic coffee machine isn’t reliant on a particularly skilled barista, getting it to make, a great cup of coffee does come down to how well you understand the machine’s settings and features.
Automatic coffee machines take care of pretty much everything aside from grinding and packing the coffee itself. However, the barista does have to understand which of the machine’s settings are ideal for both the coffee blend and the customer’s preferences.
Bean-to-Cup Commercial Coffee Machines
Right, these machines require literally no specialist coffee-making skill whatsoever to operate. From grinding beans to depositing foam onto the cappuccino, these bad boys take care of everything. All the operator needs to do is pour beans into the correct area, select their preferred drink, and remember to have an appropriately-sized cup underneath the dispenser.
Depending on the quality of the machine coffee, they can still deliver a fantastic end-product, though. Don’t be put off by the lack of hands-on involvement. Even if you’re looking for a machine that’s going to be making cups of coffee for paying customers, bean-to-cup coffee can still be of a very high quality. In fact, most Starbucks use these machines nowadays.
One area that bean-to-cup machines have been improved on hugely in recent years, is their milk frothing. Once only the domain of skilled baristas, getting a great foam onto your cappuccino can now be achieved by one of these machines.
Which Type of Commercial Coffee Machine is Right for You?
Large Businesses or Institutions
If your goal is to simply provide coffee to a large group of people, like a particular department’s staff contingent, a large, top-of-the-line bean-to-cup machine would be ideal.
What’s important in an office environment is that people get their coffee in with minimum disruption to their productivity. The last thing a business owner wants is his staff wasting their time with grinding and packing coffee, making sure there’s enough milk in the machine, or dealing with frequent malfunctions.
If the machine is going to be making a hundred cups of coffee every day, you don’t want to skimp on quality or performance. If you run a large organization, get your staff the coffee machine they deserve – something that’s going to keep them happy and focused on their jobs.
Smaller Businesses or Institutions
The obvious suggestion here would be a smaller bean-to-cup machine – one that’s been made to deal with fewer cups of coffee per day. Some bean-to-cup machines have been manufactured specifically with large outputs in mind. There’s no need for this kind of overkill if you’re serving fewer than 10 people.
On the other hand, smaller companies like young tech startups, often have a more sociable culture. Or employ the odd coffee enthusiast who’d be more than willing to make a couple of his colleagues a cup once a day. If this sounds like it describes your work environment, a semi-automatic or fully-automatic machine could be a great choice.
Restaurants, Pubs, and Cafés
The two most important driving factors here are: your staff budget and the number of customers you expect to be serving per hour.
If you’re expecting a genuinely massive amount of customers, always consider a top-end bean-to-cup machine, regardless of your capacity to hire great baristas.
As the amount of expected customers decreases, and your payroll budget can accommodate it, start considering semi-automatic or fully-automatic coffee machines. Just bear in mind that additional training will be required if you choose the former.
Manual commercial coffee machines should only ever be considered by extremely high-end, niche establishments that want to give their customers a unique experience in addition to a great cup of coffee. Highly skilled baristas that are going to make consistently excellent cups of coffee with one of these machines are very hard to come by, however, and their wages won’t be cheap.
Should You Buy, Rent, or Lease Your Commercial Coffee Machine?
What’s the Difference Between Renting and Leasing?
When you lease a commercial coffee machine, your agreement with the supplier is for a limited amount of time and you have the option to purchase it for a smaller sum than its cost-price at the end of the term.
Renting a machine is also typically for a specified length of time, although this term is usually more flexible than when leasing. However, monthly installments payments don’t contribute in any way to eventual ownership.
The Advantages of Hiring or Leasing Your Coffee Machine
- The coffee machine will be installed and maintained by professionals.
- Breakdowns are covered by the rental or lease agreement.
- Installments are fixed, meaning that monthly expenses are predictable.
- Upgrading to a more suitable coffee machine is possible.
- It’s not a permanent expense. Should it turn out to be a needless investment, contracts needn’t be renewed.
- Smaller payments means that cash will be available for other investments.
- Short-term agreements allow machines to be used for specific events.
Advantages of Buying a Commercial Coffee Machine
- The coffee machine becomes an asset for your company.
- There are no monthly payments and you’re not tied to a contract.