Commercial vs Industrial vs Restaurant Coffee Machines

Commercial vs Industrial vs Restaurant Coffee Machines- What’s the Diff?

Commercial vs Industrial vs Restaurant Coffee Machines- What’s the Diff?

A quick Google search reveals there are a whole lot of people looking for coffee machines that fit these criteria. For the novice, the results yielded from this search can be entirely overwhelming – how do you know the difference between industrial, commercial or restaurant quality? Are you even buying the right machine from the sub-categories listed under each of these three types? Are they actually all the same thing? Or are you looking in the wrong place for the machine that is actually going to satisfy your business requirements?

Industrial Machines – What Are They?

There are many commercial coffee machines available. Choosing the right one for your business can be confusing. The one that you buy will depend on how big your business is and what your needs are.

To make this read exponentially easier for you – the terms “commercial;”, “industrial” and “restaurant” coffee machines are all exactly the same thing. They are designed to serve large volumes of coffee in close succession. The only differentiating factor between types of these machines is whether they are manual or automatic. Manual coffee machines require a certain level of skill from the Barista – i.e. – knowing how many grams of ground coffee to add, the pressure at which to tamp the porta-filter and exactly how to manually froth milk with the frothing wand. Automatic machines are typically larger in size (in comparison to the smaller home models in their ranges), but they allow for coffee preparation (including grinding of the beans, tamping, extraction and milk froth) at the simple touch of a button.

The important equation will be how many cups of coffee per day you would need the machine to dispense. Work that out before you contact any suppliers as this information is crucial. Some machines will not cope with high volumes while others will be temperamental when not being used enough.

The cup/day ratio is based on an 8oz serving. Low volume coffee machines are recommended for just fifty cups per day. Medium volume coffee machines are recommended for 150-200 cups per day. High volume would be 200-500 cups per day.

Here’s a look at some of the terminology associated with commercial coffee machines. This is important when it comes to understanding the various products.

Types of Industrial Coffee Machines

  • Bean to Cup

Bean to cup machines can be found in many self-serve environments such as offices and cafeterias. You don’t need training to use them. Usually it’s just the touch of a button that makes them work.

Bean to cup machines have the ability to grind coffee beans which then move into a brewing chamber where they are mixed with hot water in a similar way to a cafeteria. They have built in milk frothers to dispense frothy milk for cappuccino. They usually have somewhere between eight and twelve drink options.

  • Combination Bean to Cup

These machines provide freshly ground coffee but also offer freeze dried instant coffee, powdered milk and hot chocolate powder. These are usually found in offices rather than coffee shops and restaurants. A word of warning – if your aim is to sell high-quality, restaurant grade coffee to your customers, you cannot expect them to be drinking powdered ingredients. This type of machine is excellently suited to areas where self-service is needed, and the quality of coffee need not be exceptional. A movie front house, a training centre etc. will highly benefit from the addition of a machine of this type.

  • Manual or Espresso Machines

Manual machines are also sometimes referred to as espresso machines, as that is what was in mind (surely) of the creators. This machine produces some of the best quality coffee, provided the Barista knows what he or she is doing. These machines are geared more towards the type of restaurant or coffee house which has already established itself; this is because you will require a dedicated Barista to man the machine, simply to make coffee. If he or she does not come into work, a “back-up” plan will need to be made, fast, as not everyone is inclined to making great coffee.

In summary, commercial coffee machines (anything with the capacity to make in excess of 500 cups per day) is a great solution for an established restaurant or coffee house. For those starting out, consider machines that do the dirty work for you – i.e. – automatic coffee machines., This allows for freed up funds (without needing to hire a dedicated Barista) to be spent elsewhere, crucial for business just starting up.

Questions to Ask Before You Buy Industrial Coffee Machines

  • What happens if the machine breaks down?
    Your supplier should offer some sort of maintenance plan, warranty or guarantee to ensure you don’t sit without a machine for days on end.
  • Are there out of hours service and repairs available?
    Will they fix the machine even out of warranty? How much will this cost?
  • What are the costs for service and repairs?
    Are the services or possible repairs going to cost more than the machine itself?
  • What is included in the service?
    Are you going to be liable to maintain other items not included in the paid service?
  • What is the returns or exchange policy if you are not happy with the machine?
    If your purchase is not suitable, do you have a returns period or are you stuck with the bought machine forever?
  • If you have to run any cleaning programs on the machine, how long will they take?
    Coffee shops cannot afford downtime to descale a machine. Know the plan, know the duration and know when it might be necessary.
  • How much will it cost to change the name of a drink on the screen, if needed?
    Not applicable to manual machines, but can you customise front screens on automatic coffee machines?
  • Can you change the strength or the temperature of the coffee?
    Fussy customers are still customers you need to keep happy. Make sure you can do that witht his machine.

Want to read more about commercial coffee machines?

Guide To Buying A Commercial Coffee Machine In South Africa

Commercial Coffee Machines In South Africa

What To Look For When Buying A Commercial Coffee Machine


If you need selection advice on automatic coffee machines for you established business, click here to get in touch with us today.

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