Knowledge Base:  
Which Coffee Machine
Last Updated: 09/12/2019
Choosing the right coffee machine

There are several criteria to consider when choosing which coffee machine so we will investigate the various types.

1. Manual espresso coffee machine requires no power supply, heated by gas and the boiler is filled by a hand pump. These are not available today although you will find some machines will have a hand pump.

2. Semi-automatic use an electric pump to fill and maintain the boiler water level.

3. Fully automatic are the same as semi-automatic but also measure the amount of coffee extracted.

4. Lever machines same as the manual (1) however has a pump to fill the boiler and can be heated electrically, by gas or either.

1. Traditional coffee machines.

By far most popular and the choices are, semi-automatic or fully automatic.


Are fine except you will need to measure each shot which is a little more time consuming, however a great coffee can be made and you do have a little more control over the shot.

Fully automatic

The same and a semi-automatic except the shot is automatically measured for you, so once set and your preferred time, in theory every coffee will be the same, BUT it can still vary due to different operators tamping the coffee, the air moisture content, coffee is hydroscopic and will absorb moister from the air, grinder variations, so these must be taken into account.  

Lever coffee machines

The third type of coffee machine is lever operated which actually the first type of coffee machine produced. The lever machine is used where you wish to create a truly traditional coffee bar or in mobile unit when a gas heating system is employed to avoid the need for a major power supply.

2. Bean to Cup machines.

Bean to cup machines have their place but won’t be taken seriously by a true Barista. Modern bean to cup machines will make consistent drinks and are ideal for bars, offices and pubs etc, they are used to avoid training issues where staff  turnover is high, although they are not our favourite machine we recognise that there is a need and they can be successful in the right environment.

3. Types of coffee production

The above machines use beans which are self-explanatory; however other options are pod and capsule.
Pods are like tea bags but are compressed to the same tamping pressure of ground coffee, these are again used where staff training is an issue as there is no control over the coffee produced other than the time to pull a shot.

We recommend pods for decaffeinated drinks where few are sold as this guarantee’s freshness, pods can be used in all traditional coffee machines without modification, although pods can be used in a standard group handle, we recommend a separate group handle with a specific pod filter plate. Pods are a standard size and can be supplied by most coffee companies although the number of blends may be limited.

Capsules are made of plastic, are generally liquid coffee and are specific to the machine, the downfall is you may not be able to buy the capsules only from the one supplier and then only over the Internet. The carbon foot print of a plastic pod is also to be questioned along with is it a compostable plastic.

Were coffee beans cost between 7p and 10p per cup both capsules and pods can be as much as 37p per cup.

4. Machine criteria

It has to be said that 99.99% of commercial coffee machines will produce good espresso-based drinks when new so which machine to choose?

Most people will choose a machine on looks/style and how it will add to the aesthetics of the premises, it is important to choose a machine that adds to the theatre of a café and not one that stands out like a sore thumb.

5.What size of machine

Single group machines are fine in pubs and outlets that only supply a few drinks per day but a 2 group machine will be more than capable of producing enough drinks for a normal cafe.
If you need a 3 group of even a 4 group in a very busy establishment consider 2 x 2 group machines if possible, this will take up a little more space and will cost a little more, however should anything go wrong with one machine you still have the second one  working where with a 3 and 4 group machine some faults will stop coffee production all together.

If 2 machines can be in separate locations or even just separated this will also help in production speed, less overcrowding when more than one person wishes to make coffee.

Other important points to consider

A coffee machine can be like buying a car, a Ford escort will cost much less to maintain and repair than a Ferrari but they both have the same basic purpose.

Check the cost of the parts e.g. the Electronic control unit can cost 2-3 hundred pounds or be over a thousand pounds, also the availability of parts, if a part is a special order item that is not stocked locally and needs to be ordered on the machine manufacturer this can take weeks if not months in some cases.

If you are looking for a gas machine for a mobile application check that the machine will heat on gas only, some need to be heated from cold using electricity and the gas will then maintain the temperature where others will be happy to work solely on gas.

This is just a quick guide; however, we hope it helps you to understand the differences and things to consider in choosing your machine but if you wish to discuss any points please call on 07516 102947 or email we are always happy to chat.

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