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Choosing the right coffee machine for your business: A comprehensive buying guide

Coffee is one of the most popular workplace drinks in the world. Having quality hot coffee on demand is a great way to keep your staff and customers happier! Whether you’re looking to pep up the breakroom in a small mom n’ pop shop or a large commercial office, finding the right coffee machine for your budget and needs is easier than you may think.

Unlike home machines, coffee machines in the business environment need to be able to take a beating and keep going without downtime and fuss, however. Luckily, we’re here to help you find that perfect fit hassle-free!

Key Considerations When Choosing a Coffee Machine for a Business

In the right environment, anything from a classic Nespresso machine through to a large-scale commercial machine could be the right fit. Before you commit to any one model, consider the following:

How Big Is Your Business?

The amount of ‘traffic’ the coffee machine will face daily is a primary consideration. In a small business or café, you can look to a high-quality standard single coffee maker like a Nespresso machine. For larger venues, however, you’ll need multiple group heads and a build specifically made for continual use.

Also, consider your volume per day. A small café may still make many cups of coffee a day for its customers, whereas an equivalent-sized business without customers on-site might only make a few. Most machines will give you an idea of how many cups per day they can produce.

Durability (and Reliability)

On that topic, regardless of the size and volume you will be processing daily, you need a machine with a great reputation for reliability and durability. A machine made specifically for the commercial market will be made for heavier traffic- but that doesn’t mean you should always upsize by rota.

Many high-end coffee machines for the home market (again, like the Nespresso machine) will match or even outperform budget commercial models provided you’re not overloading them. Additionally, running an oversized machine can quickly increase associated costs, lead to wastage, and may even put unplanned stress on the machine if it isn’t operating to its anticipated specs. For example, needing to continuously reheat itself due to low usage when it is intended to ‘run hot’ all day with higher volumes.

Consider Your Budget

A durable and reliable coffee machine will start at a few hundred pounds, and some larger units stretch into the thousands. It pays to know exactly what you can afford to spend ahead of time, so you don’t find yourself subject to hype and upsell. Of course, you need to be realistic- you won’t pick up a machine capable of serving hundreds of people a day for £100!

Necessary Features

No matter the budgetary range you’re in, you’ll find everything from bare-bones models upwards. This could include:

  • Built-in Grinding
  • Automatic Frothing
  • Programmable Shots
  • Multiple Heads and Boilers

Decide what matters most to you, what you’d like to have, and what you can skip before you start your sales journey.

Ease of Use

Remember that an overly intimidating machine, or one needing considerable training to use, may be off-putting if staff or customers are self-serving. Sometimes simple really is better.

Get Down and Dirty

While you may be able to skimp on a cleaning cycle here and there at home, you absolutely cannot serve coffee from an unhygienic machine in a business setting. Additionally, machines in regular use will need maintenance to ensure performance and longevity. Opt for machines which are simple to clean. Look out for extra reassurances like a great customer services department and fast turnaround on parts/services. Additionally, consider machines certified for specific sanitation and safety standards. The UL and NSF International are two to watch out for.

Types of Business Coffee Machine

There are three basic types of coffee machines you can consider:

  • Espresso Machines: Immensely popular, especially if the quality of the coffee matters to you. High heat and pressure create the perfect cup of coffee. You can make anything from an Americano to a latte or cappuccino, too. Although strictly speaking a capsule coffee maker, the Nespresso machine is probably the best-known countertop espresso models on the market today, being easy to clean as well as tasty.
  • Bean-to-Cup Machines: If you love fresh coffee, but hate grinding, this is the style for you. They have inbuilt grinders for on-demand coffee whenever you need it.
  • Instant Coffee Machines: If quantity is key, this could be the right choice. They produce high volumes, but the quality is typically lower. The same goes for drip /filter coffee machines, often used in corporate environments. They can be divisive (people’s tastes differ greatly and the pot is communal) and don’t showcase the coffee to its best, however, especially after standing.

There’s no wrong or right choice. It’s a matter of matching the machine to your business and expectations.

While finding the right coffee machine for your business may seem intimidating, it’s just a matter of methodically working through your needs and expectations and matching them with your budget. From something as simple as a Nespresso machine for smaller businesses, to larger units for high-volume enterprises, a great coffee machine will help you keep staff and customers happy.