Best Commercial Espresso Machine For Your Coffee Shop
Imagine this: A bustling coffee shop with a steady influx of customers, the gentle murmur of conversation, and the wafting aroma of freshly brewed coffee. This is what small coffee shop dreams are made of. And you’ve decided to bring this vision to life by opening a coffee shop. Or perhaps, you’re upgrading the brewing equipment at your cafe.
Thank you! The world can always use a few more pulls of espresso.
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Suffice it to say that you’re in the market for a commercial coffee machine for your business. As a smart coffee business owner you know that investing in superior hardware is crucial to earn more revenue. And I’m here to help you make that choice.
I know you’ve done your research about what your requirements are, budgeted for the equipment and overheads, and you just want an overview of the best commercial espresso machines available in the market. So let’s dive right in.
La Marzocco Strada AV
If you want to pull high-quality espresso shots without having to pay an arm and a leg, this is the machine for you. With a 8.2 L steam boiler capacity, the Strada AV is my recommendation for café owners.
The Best Commercial Espresso Machines In 2022
If you search for commercial espresso machines without figuring out your budget and requirements, you’ll be inundated with hundreds of options. It can all be a little overwhelming.
That’s why I’ve shortlisted the best commercial machines available in the market in 2022:
|La Marzocco Strada AV||
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|Victoria Arduino Black Eagle 3-Group||
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|Synesso MVP Hydra 2-Group||
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|La Marzocco Linea Mini||
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|Slayer Steam LP 2-Group||
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|Nuova Simonelli Appia Life 1-Group||
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|La Spaziale S2 EK Spazio 2-Group||
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|Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave Volumetric 2-Group||
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There are many commercial machines to choose from. Which espresso machine you end up buying depends on the needs of your café and your personal preference. So to help you make this critical decision, here’s a review of each machine listed above:
The La Marzocco Strada is a legend among commercial espresso machines. It was the first to be designed using feedback from baristas and industry professionals, and it has continued to evolve to meet the needs of that demographic.
There are four models available, each with a different degree of control for the barista. The Auto Volumetric is the most automated, perfect for high-volume settings where consistency is paramount.
As with most La Marzoccos, the Strada has saturated groups instead of the more common E61 groups. The saturated group offers improved temperature stability and thus more consistent shots, though it’s a bit higher in price. Each group has an individual boiler whose temperature can be set independently using a PID controller — ideal when pulling shots with different roasts on the same machine.
The groups are nicely exposed, allowing better ergonomics and visibility for the barista. This is a small detail that professional baristas regularly praise.
You’ll also find the new Performance Touch steam wand on the Strata, a clever design that pairs the best qualities of performance and no-burn steam wands. Because it uses a steel rather than plastic inner wall, you get perfect dry steam AND a cool-to-the-touch wand.
If your coffee shop’s line snakes out the door every morning, an espresso machine designed to handle the load will pay dividends — both in happy customers and happy baristas. For this, you can’t beat the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle.
It features programmable gravimetric dosing using scales built right into the drip tray. This is the most precise way of measuring a shot. This combined with a soft pre-infusion system that reduces the importance of tamping leads to incredible shot-to-shot consistency.
A TFT screen atop each group gives access to all the programming, including dosing, boiler temperatures, steam pressure, and hot water temperature. It also provides constant real-time feedback to the barista.
In terms of design, the stunning Black Eagle now has a lower profile, making it easier to interact with customers. The steam wands have been updated with more ergonomic levers and better insulation. The back plate is polished with a mirror finish, so you can watch shots from below without bending over.
In keeping with current trends, the latest model is greener as well. The interior has been better insulated to avoid energy loss, and the premium materials used, like steel, copper, and aluminum, are all recyclable.
Synesso espresso machines are hand-crafted in Seattle, a city that has become a hub for both specialty coffee and espresso machine innovation. The MVP Hydra is a showcase of that innovation and a perfect choice for your mid-sized cafe.
The Hydra is the latest update in the very successful, and aptly named, MVP line. Okay, in this case, MVP stands for Manual or Volumetric Program, but Most Valuable Player would be just as true.
Synesso machines are renowned for their degree of programmability, and the Hydra takes this to the next level. As with the MVP, you can program six brew modes per group, along with the temperature of the boilers and hot water tap, and each includes a digital shot timer.
But new to this model is the ability to fine tune your recipe by adjusting pressure. Each group acts as its own individual espresso machine, with its own pump and motor, and a unique bypass system allows you to adjust the flow rate during each stage of the shot. You end up with near limitless variables to tinker in the quest for the perfect espresso!
The no-burn steam wands have handles rather than knobs, always a nice ergonomic choice in a higher volume situation.
The Linea Mini, modeled after the iconic Linea, has been a top seller for La Marzocco since its release. This is partly due to its cool aesthetic, which stands out from the classic “chrome box” prosumer look. But it also manages to perfectly ride the line between commercial and home use, appealing to small businesses and avid home users at once.
Though it lacks the programmability of the bigger commercial models, the Linea Mini has a nice, simple user interface. A manual brew paddle gives the feeling of control, but acts solely as an on-off switch, with the pre-infusion pre-programmed. This is nice for consistency and efficiency of workflow.
If you’d prefer more control, check out La Marzocco’s next model up, the GS3.
One thing that sets the Linea Mini apart from other home machines, making it a great choice in a commercial setting, is the steaming power. This double boiler machine has a small brew boiler, at just 0.6 liters, but that extra space is occupied by the 3.5 liter steam boiler. You can churn out latte art worthy microfoam in seconds.
Generally, La Marzocco uses saturated groups rather than the more common E61, but the Linea Mini has a unique integrated group. This innovation allows for the same temperature stability of the saturated group but in a much more compact frame. The temperature is set using a stepped wheel, which does feel a little clunky compared to a digital display.
A third wave coffee shop is basically an anti-Starbucks, a place for tasting specialty coffee beans brewed specifically to showcase their unique qualities. If that’s the cafe you want to run, then Slayer is a brand you need to know.
Slayer first made waves with their patented flow profiling technology. By using a needle valve for an ultra slow pre-infusion, beans can be ground finer and flavor extraction maximized. With the Slayer Steam, that technology is paired with an equally exciting innovation in milk steaming.
Slayer developed a proprietary vaporizer that lies between the steam boiler and steam wand and produces hotter, drier steam. Frothers are plant based milk, in particular, will notice the difference. The steam wands also use electronic solenoid valves, which are more responsive, efficient, and durable compared to mechanical valves.
The LP version of the Steam perfectly blends manual control with programmability. You dial in a shot once, then save the program so you can reproduce it exactly all day long.
Slayer machines are renowned for impeccable style. Yes, quality trumps aesthetics, but it’s even better when they go hand in hand. Their sleek machines keep a low profile, which is especially important in third wave cafes, where guests take a more active interest in their brew.
The Nuova Simonelli Appia models have long been staples in coffee shops, and the new Appia Life continues that tradition. It’s available in a semi-automatic, compact, and volumetric version, but if ease-of-use is your priority, the latter is the one for you.
The Appia Life is ideal in a scenario where extensive barista training isn’t a priority, like a restaurant, hotel, or office. It has enough automation that virtually anyone can produce reliably incredible espresso.
It uses a heat exchange boiler to pull shots and steam milk at the same time. Each group has four programmable volumes, so the barista need only press a button. This frees up time for steaming milk or interacting with customers. An upgrade to the XT version adds a digital display, making programming that much easier.
Nuova Simonelli machines are known for mind-blowing steam power and four-hole steam tips, and the Appia Life is no exception. But with the volumetric model, you can opt for their new Easy Cream system. It fully automates the frothing process using a probe that detects perfect milk texture and temperature.
With the Appia Life, Nuova Simonelli also put a focus on sustainability. Independent analysis confirms that it is 13% more energy efficient and has 20% less environmental impact than previous models.
Commercial espresso machines aren’t cheap, but even with a tight budget, you have access to some pretty impressive technology, especially if opting for a smaller machine. The La Spaziale S2 Spazio 2-Group is the little brother of the famous S2, but aside from having a slightly smaller 5 liter boiler, it matches its larger counterpart in nearly every way. And it’s priced about the same as the single-group Linea Mini.
The S2 Spazio uses the same copper heat exchange boiler as the S2, albeit smaller, and the same volumetric dosing system. But it offers both at a lower price and in a smaller footprint. La Spaziale has cleverly added extra long steam arms with more range of motion, so even with this compact design, two baristas can comfortably work side by side.
This S2 is available in either a volumetric (EK) or semi-automatic version (EP). The volumetric model allows for a more efficient workflow in high volume settings. Dosing can be pre-programmed, taking any guesswork out of the process. That said, the semi-automatic option is a great choice if you have skilled staff, because it leaves more control in the hands of the barista. And it’s even less expensive than the already great value EK.
In a small cafe, the espresso machine is often the focal point of the whole space. If you want an espresso machine that’s as beautiful as it is functional, check out the iconic Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave.
The defining style feature is the distinct wave shape of its side profile, highlighted by the C-shaped swoop. It’s available in matte black, pearl white, or glossy red, or can be customized in a thousand ways to match your decor.
The claim to fame of the Aurelia is that it’s built on the platform of the official World Barista Championship espresso machine. So it has all the advanced technology you could ask for.
Each group has 4 programmable shot volumes, managed via the large LCD display. You can also program boiler temperature, on/off time, cleaning functions, hot water temperature, access various other smart features, and use the display as a timer. For a high-volume shop, this all works together to ensure consistency throughout the day.
The Aurelia Wave has the same impressive steam power and four-hole tip that Nuova Simonelli is known for, as well as ergonomic steam levers and cool touch wands. Perfect microfoam has never been so easy.
With the latest version of the Wave, you can opt for the new Smart Water Technology, which monitors the water quality and alerts you to any changes. In an era when the importance of water in coffee is becoming more apparent, this is sure to become a standard feature of more brands.
Bezzera was the first company to patent an espresso machine in the early 1900s, and their over-a-century of experience is clear in the quality of their products. The Bezzera Magica combines the best of classic, time-tested elements with modern, practical features, making it an ideal addition to your home or small commercial set-up.
The Magica uses the industry-standard E61 group head coupled with a copper heat exchange boiler, so you can pull a shot and steam milk at the same time. Two gauges on the front panel allow you to monitor boiler and pump pressure, making it easy to achieve consistent results. It’s a semi-automatic machine, so it does require a bit more barista skill and attention than an automatic.
The steam and hot water wands are operated with joysticks rather than knobs, which is more ergonomic in a commercial setting when you’ll be making a lot of consecutive drinks.
The casing is a mirror-polished stainless steel. Not only does this add a touch of glamor to your set-up, but it’s ultra durable, which is important if you plan on regularly transporting it to and from gigs.
Though the Bezzera Magica is small compared to most commercial machines, its 4 liter water reservoir is one of the largest in its class. This is perfect for mobile businesses like catering companies or espresso carts, where plumbing isn’t an option. And because the Magica is designed for home or commercial applications, it’s much more affordable than most purely commercial machines.
How to Choose the Right Commercial Espresso Machine for Your Coffee Shop
Commercial espresso machines exist for one reason only – to keep up with the requirements of a café business. Even the smallest ones. For this reason, they are very different to home espresso machines. They are designed to produce consistently high-quality coffee throughout the day, no matter how crowded the shop.
However, not all espresso machines are created equal. And which one you end up buying can have a crucial impact on your business, just like choosing the right name for your coffee shop. That’s why you don’t want to rush this decision.
To help you make an informed decision, I recommend reading up on how espresso machines work. Then, you can match those up to the four important factors listed below and see which commercial espresso machine will work best for your business.
1. Semi-Automatic Vs Automatic?
Professional coffee makers have come a long way from the days of steam-powered coffee machines (3). What used to be a painstaking process of manually operating heavy levers, has become a breeze with today’s semi-automatic and automatic (a.k.a., super-automatic) machines.
Automation is indeed a boon when you or your barista is pulling shot after shot from morning to evening. No matter which machine you end up choosing from the list above (link), you can’t go wrong. But as a business owner, you still need to decide between automatic vs semi-automatic espresso machine. And not just because of the initial upfront cost.
An automatic machine is the smarter choice for most businesses, because it provides greater efficiency and ease of operation. You don’t need to grind the beans, tamp them, or worry about achieving consistent levels of extraction.
It will also eliminate the need for long-winded staff training (4). The learning curve of super automatic espresso machine is gentle enough, even for those who don’t have previous barista experience.
However, if you don’t foresee serving hundreds of cups of coffee every day and you appreciate tweaking the extraction process manually, a semi-automatic machine will prove to be the perfect addition to your equipment list.
In fact, grinding your beans to-order and having more control over the extraction process adds a touch of craft that will lend your café a brand image that could appeal coffee lovers and hipsters.
2. Capacity of the Espresso Machine
The capacity of the commercial espresso machine you should choose depends on the scale of your business.
Will your café be serving hundreds of ‘to-go’ cups every day? Are you a local roastery serving specialty brews to small number of discerning customers? How much space do you have to store the machine? How many baristas do you want to be able to operate the machine simultaneously? These are all important questions to ask before choosing your espresso machine (5).
The machine’s capacity is dictated by the number of group-heads and the size of the boiler. Most professional coffee machines have 2, 3 or 4 group-heads. The number of group heads dictates how many baristas can work the machine simultaneously, and each head can produce 2 drinks at the same time. Do keep in mind that a higher number isn’t always better as you might be limited by the space available behind the counter.
Boiler capacity is also an important factor in choosing the right coffee machine. It should be large enough to provide you enough hot water during peak hours. Usually, the more number of heads a machine has, the larger its boiler capacity.
You should also keep the size of the machine in mind. While a large machine will cost more and require more space, it could endear you to your staff and improve service time.
3. Ease Of Use and Maintenance
As with all professional, high-performance equipment, maintenance is a key issue. This refers to both everyday routines like cleaning the machine, as well as the ease of getting it repaired in case of technical issues.
In case you were wondering, here’s what the folks at Seattle Coffee Gear have to say:
We recommend descaling your espresso machine every few months under normal usage, but you may have to perform this more frequently if your water has a high mineral content.
Almost all automatic espresso machines available in the market today are designed to free you and your staff from menial tasks of everyday maintenance, and the Unic Mira, an automatic commercial espresso machine, that didn’t make this list is not any different.
However, it is worth researching the practically of each individual model. Most automatic espresso machines are self-cleaning, but they still need to be descaled regularly. They usually don’t have detachable group-heads, which means you’ll have to depend on the machine’s self-cleaning ability.
You could opt for an automatic commercial espresso machine that feature removable parts.It will give you the flexibility to do a manual deep clean every now and then, but you will have to train your staff to take the kit apart and put it back together.
Semi automatic machines usually feature removable parts and have to be manually descaled. They’re also easier to maintain than their automatic counterparts as they don’t have built-in coffee grinders or other complicated bits of machinery.
But whichever commercial espresso machine you choose, make sure that it is durable, and in case of problems, easy to repair. That is why it’s important to make sure that your espresso machine has a good warranty coverage.
While we’re at it, knowing how the espresso making process go from preparation to cleaning is another factor to consider. Does the machine you’re eyeing for comes with a knock box? If not, an espresso knock box from this list can help you with that.
4. The Espresso Shot
After all, that’s all that your customer’s going to care about. After you’ve narrowed down your choice to two or three machines based on the factors above, read some user reviews on the taste, quality, and consistency of the espresso shot for each.
Since you’ll be spending some serious cash on your espresso machine, you might want to look at your menu to see what coffee drinks will be on offer.
What good is a super-fast, high-capacity machine if it can’t pull consistently good-quality espresso shots?
I hope this article has given you some clarity about which could be the best commercial espresso machine for your coffee shop. Your budget will play a vital role in which machine you decide to invest, but every single machine in this article is capable of producing delicious espresso with minimum fuss.
The best choice depends on your specific business requirements and your personal preference. But my personal pick would be the La Marzocco Strada AV. In another note, use demitasse cups to add presentation points to your espresso!
In closing, I would like to wish you and your coffee business all the best. And if this article helped you in any way, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Commercial espresso machines cost way more than home espresso machines. And there’s a reason for that. If you’re going to charge $2 per cup of coffee and plan on selling hundreds of those throughout a day, you need to make a significant investment in your espresso machine.
There is a wide variety in terms of cost and features, but even at the cheapest you’ll be spending a minimum of $1,000. On the expensive end of the spectrum, you could be looking at $40-50,000.
Commercial espresso machines are expensive for a reason – they are built to handle the heavy workload of a busy coffee joint. Even the most expensive home espresso machine won’t be able to hold a candle to the most basic commercial-grade machine.
A commercial espresso machine has heavy-duty components like a water pump (capable of delivering at least 9 bars of pressure), a water circulation system and boiler, and multiple heads to keep up with the brisk demand for coffee. Building such a machine means adhering to stringent engineering and safety standards. And those come at a steep price.
I’m no expert on opening a coffee shop, but when it comes to the business side of things, it’s similar to running any other brick-and-mortar store. You can find lots of resources online to do your research.
However, starting a cafe will have its own challenges. Primary among them is the cost of opening a coffee shop. You also need to make a business plan accordingly. Most importantly though, do your research before jumping in head first, and buy quality equipment including different types of coffee makers (cold brew makers, French presses, single serve coffee makers, drip machines, etc), a commercial coffee grinder, a reliable espresso maker, and more.
- Kierstead, J. (2019, August 1). Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Espresso Machine Review. Retrieved from https://knowyourgrinder.com/nuova-simonelli-aurelia-ii-espresso-machine-review/
- Blecher, J. (2015, April 18). Jura GIGA 5 Automatic Coffee Center review. Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/appliance-reviews/jura-giga-5-review/
- Stamp, J. (2012, June 19). The Long History of the Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/
- Peaberrys Coffee Roasters. (2016, February 23). The Importance Of Cafe Staff Training. Retrieved from https://peaberrys.com.au/the-importance-of-cafe-staff-training/
- Rossi, R. (2018, October 3). What You Need to Know Before Buying an Espresso Machine. Retrieved From https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/10/what-you-need-to-know-before-buying-an-espresso-machine/