Starbucks vs Mugg & Bean

Starbucks vs Mugg & Bean: Who’s Coffee Machine Is the Best?

Starbucks vs Mugg & Bean: Who’s Coffee Machine Is the Best?

Whether you love your cappuccino’s frothed over the top with creamy, fluffy foam, or you’re a straight-up Americano drinker – the likelihood that you’ve at some point in your life needed to stop at one of our local coffee pick-up-spots on a particularly busy morning is very high.

There is no arguing that the same type of coffee will taste vastly different from store to store, and that is due to two determining factors: the machinery they use, and the coffee beans they use.

We can’t pinpoint the differences in taste based off of each brands coffee beans – they are all different in country of origin, bean type, roast level and of course – flavour profile. But we can take a closer look at the type of machine used in these three major outlets’ – and which of those is the best for producing the best coffee.


What Coffee Machine Does Starbucks South Africa Use?


VA Black Eagle South Africa

VA Black Eagle South Africa

Starbucks was brought to our shores in April 2016, with their flagship store (based in Rosebank) bringing the world-renowned taste of Starbucks right to our doorstep – and this is what they have to say about their coffee:
Coffee consumption is growing in South Africa, and the introduction of Starbucks to South African consumers means that hundreds of new customers can now enjoy Starbucks 100% Arabica coffee, ethically sourced, and hand-crafted into a wide range of unique beverages by our Baristas.

Starbucks remains committed to ethically sourcing coffee from all over the world and are proud to source exceptional coffee from nine countries in Africa – from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, Zambia, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Both the Rosebank and the Mall of Africa stores offer our customers an intimate coffee theatre experience through our Reserve® Bar. The Reserve® Bar offers single origin, small batch coffees sourced from around the world and roasted in our Seattle roaster, and then made available exclusively at Starbucks Reserve® Bars.

Starbucks are not just passionate purveyors of coffee, but everything else that goes with a full and rewarding coffeehouse experience. We also offer a selection of premium teas, fine pastries and other delectable treats.”

When it comes to Starbucks’ coffee machine, there is no holding back. They make use of the Black Eagle – made by Victoria Arduino. This is arguably one of the best manual coffee machines locally available. A bold statement by Victoria Arduino themselves states that  “the VA388 Black Eagle is the espresso machine for all those who dedicate their lives to coffee; who study, research, and experiment every day to bring a meaningful coffee experience to the cup. This is the espresso machine for the specialty barista.”

 But what makes this machine so spectacular?

  • “Baristas have full control of the machine thanks to a TFT display with rotary switch menu management. Baristas can set and monitor shot time, brewing temperature, group temperature, boiler pressure, additional pre-infusion and energy saving.”
  • “The Cool Touch steam lever is thermally insulated to be safe for the barista and easy to clean.”
  • “The group display means the barista can control the weight of extracted liquid and the shot time.”
  • “The Push Pull lever system lets the barista work safely and efficiently.”
  • “Gravimetric technology gives users an unprecedented level of consistency and control over the coffee brewing process allowing for maximum precision.
    • Brew Ratio: The brew ratio is the relationship between the weight of ground coffee and the liquid in the cup.
    • There is no ideal brew ratio. As it varies for each coffee and depends on the baristas goal. Today gravimetric technology in the VA388 Black Eagle means espresso can consistently be made with the same brew ratio.”

Apart from all these features, allowing trained Barista’s to skilfully and precisely produce a cup of rich, complex and intense coffee – there is also the factor of how good this machine looks! It is a bold piece, with visible build quality and features that could make seasoned Barista’s blush.


What Coffee Machine Does Mugg & Bean South Africa Use?

Nuova Simonelli Appia 3 Group South Africa

Nuova Simonelli Appia 3 Group South Africa


WEGA Orion South Africa

WEGA Orion South Africa

“Mugg & Bean is the place where you are always welcome, your home away from home, where you always get more and more.”

Mugg & Bean has become synonymous with hearty dish sizes, their famous bottomless coffee and their generous helpings of pretty much everything they serve. Today you can find them in 200 locations across Africa – a family-oriented, foody-loving and coffee adoring restaurant.

What do Mugg & Beans latest coffee roast offerings encompass?
“African Blend: Made from a mixture of exceptional coffees from Uganda and Rwanda, our African Blend is a uniquely bold medium to dark roast. Expect taste notes of baker’s chocolate, 70% dark chocolate and raw honey. Best enjoyed in bottomless quantities and with a slice of Chocolate Caramel Millionaire’s Layer Cake. #Bottomless”

 “Tanzania Single Origin: Found in the mountainous regions of Tanzania, this is a highly enjoyable single origin coffee with a medium body and watermelon undertones. Best paired with a generous slice of Rich Chocolate Cake.  #Espresso”


The coffee machine of choice for Mugg & Bean is store-dependant; they make use of either the Nuova Simonelli Appia 3-Group, or the WEGA Orion.

The Nuova Simonelli “ in 72 years of experience, has spread the culture of espresso coffee worldwide thanks to its innovative products and design.

Established in 1936 by Orlando Simonelli, currently operates in 102 Countries exporting 80% of its espresso coffee machines production.

The quality, the reliability and the safety of the machines by Nuova Simonelli are recognised both by national and international certificates stating that they passed very strict tests.”

The specific model of Nuova Simonelli used by Mugg & Bean is the Appia 3 Group; what makes this machine worthy of the title of coffee machine ambassador? (h/t to Seattle Coffee Gear for the information!)
Using its passion, innovation and technology to provide coffee lovers with an ideal cup of espresso every time, Nuova Simonelli offers cafe and restaurants with heavy traffic plenty of customer satisfaction with the Appia Volumetric Commercial Espresso Machine. The Appia Volumetric features automatic dosing and an ergonomic design for the well-being of baristas. The operation of the machine will be smooth and minimize physical stress. As one of Nuova Simonelli’s larger machines, the Appia Volumetric offers raised group heads, ergonomic portafilters, inox work tray, two inox steam wands and a hot water wand.”

Here are some of the stand-out features:

Heat Exchanger: With its copper boiler, this heat exchanger will allow you to brew and steam at the same time with ease and at a faster rate than non-heat exchangers. The temperature will stay consistent through and through from boiler to brew head giving you that ideal shot every time.

Soft Infusion System: Guarantees soft and creamy espresso shots every time.

Raised Group Heads: Tall enough to put your cup right underneath the group.

Cup Warmer: The top of this machine functions wonderfully as a cup warmer, drawing heat directly from the boilers to the stainless-steel top, thus priming those latte and shot glasses for perfect warmth.

Automatic Dosing: At a push of a button you won’t need to worry when to stop or start your ideal shots. The programmable buttons make measuring the right amount of espresso a piece of cake

Stores which opt for the WEGA Orion; “Wega Macchine per Caffé is a brand that represents the Italian tradition of espresso coffee machines. Established in 1985 as a division of the CMA group, which was founded in 1969 by Mr. Nello Dal Tio, Wega Macchine per Caffe’ has been part of Ryoma holding of Milan since its official acquisition in October 2012. Its core-business is the production and distribution of professional espresso coffee machines, coffee grinders and accessories. The remarkable reliability of our machines is the best means we can offer the barista in order to promote Italian coffee culture throughout the world.”


What are the standout features of the WEGA Orion?

  • Built-in motor pump
  • Body made of painted steel
  • Boiler and pipes made in copper and brass pipe fittings
  • Duel gauges for boiler and pump pressure control
  • Indicator light to inform the machine is on
  • Automatic water refill (A.W.R.)
  • 2 steam wands – one hot water spout
  • 5 Lt Boiler capacity
  • Gas converted”


h/t to for the info!


Nuova Simonelli Appia vs WEGA Orion vs Victoria Arduino Black Eagle: Which Machine is the Best?

There is unfortunately no black-and-white answer in this instance; we can say without the shadow of a doubt that the level of preparation, the skill required to prepare a high-quality cup of coffee as well as the method of extraction can change the flavour profile of a cup of coffee from one cup to the next.

All three of the machines used by these two companies are top-of-the-range, high quality and superior machines.

The preference ill always come down to personal preference, but it might be safe to say that in terms of machinery used to prepare your morning (afternoon and maybe even night) fix is nothing to be scoffed at.

Which of these machines do you prefer? Tell us why – we’d love to know what makes coffee great for YOU!


Disclaimer: Aquaspresso holds no affiliation to any of the brands listed above. It is not our intention to cause disrupt, it is our intention to review the COFFEE MACHINES used by each enterprise. We have reviewed each of these machines based off factual merit. We do not hold liability for any errors or omissions contained within this article.

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