A commercial espresso machine is often front and center of anywhere that serves coffee, including coffee trucks and coffee shops. Many restaurants and bars will also have a commercial coffee machine so that they can offer café-quality espresso drinks to their customers. However, most commercial espresso machines are not a cheap purchase, so if you are considering buying one for your business, it is important to consider your anticipated volume and make sure that you are getting the right one.
Commercial Espresso Machine Terminology and Definitions
When it comes to espresso machines, there is a lot of specific terminology to get to grips with, which can get very confusing quickly if you are not an expert in coffee. Let’s go through the lingo around commercial espresso machines before you choose the right one for you.
First of all, it’s a good idea to get a better understanding of the several types of coffee machines that are available. The main types of commercial coffee machines are semi-automatic and fully automatic coffee machines. Fully automatic machines tend to be the best options for commercial settings since they can be operated faster and usually do not need as much barista training for somebody to successfully use one. For both machines, a pump will be used to generate pressure. On the other hand, a manual machine has a hand-operated lever.
How the shot is timed is another main difference between these two types of machines. When using a semi-automatic espresso machine, the barista is required to manually begin and stop pouring and they are in full control of the water dosage. On the other hand, the water dosage is fully programmed when it comes to a fully automatic espresso machine, leaving the barista to simply push a button and let the machine do all the work.
Parts of an Espresso Machine
Before you invest in a commercial espresso machine for your coffee shop or café, it’s a good idea to understand the specific names for certain individual parts of the espresso machine. These include:
Portafilter: A portafilter or a portable filter is the place where coffee grounds are put. Depending on the design, they might have an open bottom or spouts where the extracted coffee will be filtered through. A basket held in place with a spring is inside the portafilter.
Group Head: This refers to the area of the espresso machine where you will put the portafilter. It is here where the water is heated and then dispersed. It usually has a gasket that seals it, which is a o-ring made from rubber that prevents any water from leaking out.
Tamper: This is a metal accessory for making coffee and is used to pack the espresso tightly into the portafilter. Doing this will help you make sure that the water evenly flows through all the coffee grounds, resulting in a more balanced extraction of the coffee.
Steam Wand: This might also be known as a milk frother and refers to a metal tube that injects steam into a milk pitcher. It is used to create microfoam for espresso drinks with milk such as cappuccinos and lattes. It works by having the steam travel down the wand before coming out at the end, where there are holes that ensure that the steam is dispersed in a splayed patter.
Boiler: This is the part of the espresso machine that is responsible for heating water. Some machines have a dedicated boiler for both the group head and the steam wand, while others share a boiler.
Understanding How a Commercial Espresso Machine Works
Now that you have a better understanding of the terminology of commercial espresso machines, it will be easier for you to understand how your espresso machine works. The basic concept of an espresso machine is to use hot water at nine bars of pressure to extract the flavors and oils for the coffee.
When the machine is turned on, the boiler will begin heating the water to the correct temperature. A larger commercial espresso machine will usually be plumped into the waterline, while smaller machines tend to have a water reservoir that will need to be filled regularly.
An espresso machine will have a gauge on the front to show the pressure in the groups and the boiler. You can check these gauges to see when the machine is ready to pull shots and steam milk after the water has been heated.
To pull a shot of espresso with a professional espresso machine, you will place the portafilter filled with tamped coffee grounds into the group head. The barista will be in charge of starting and stopping the flow of water on a semi-automatic machine, while fully automatic machines stop after a predetermined water dose has been poured out. If you need to stop the shot early, many fully automatic espresso machines will also have a manual override feature.
A valve is typically used to activate the steam wand in the case of most professional espresso machines. This allows you to make adjustments to the amount of steam that is released. On the other hand, some more basic machines simply include an on and off switch that causes a pre-determined volume of steam to be released from the wand.
Choosing the Right Commercial Espresso Machine
When choosing the best commercial espresso machine for your business, the main factor to consider is the volume of drinks that you can expect to make with it. If you’re going to be running a business where you expect to be making over thirty drinks each hour, for example, then you’ll need a machine that is 220v and has a boiler capacity of at least seven liters. A two-group machine is often a must-have espresso machine for coffee shop businesses with high-volume and other commercial settings, as you can make more than one hundred drinks each hour using this type of machine. On the other hand, in a restaurant or bar where coffee might not be the most popular drink order, a smaller machine of 120v is usually sufficient, but it’s important to understand that this type of machine may not have the capability to pour shots and steam milk at the same time and may need some time in between pulling shots.
Another main factor to consider when you are investing in a new commercial espresso machine for your business is how skilled your staff are when it comes to making coffee. If you are running a café or coffee shop with trained baristas, for example, then a semi-automatic espresso machine is likely to be an ideal choice since your baristas will usually know how to use it and it will offer more control, resulting in better drinks. On the other hand, a fully automatic espresso machine is typically a much easier option to go for if the main employees who are expected to be making the coffee are bartenders or restaurant servers without any specific barista training.
Using Your Commercial Espresso Machine for the First Time
When you get your new industrial espresso machine, there are several things that you will need to do in order to make sure that it’s set up to work well and get the best results. The first thing to do is turn on your machine and prime it. Fill the water reservoir if included to the water line before switching the machine on, then turn it on and give it some time for the boiler to heat up. A one-group machine will usually take around fifteen to twenty minutes to fully heat up, while a larger machine might take longer. You can refer to the manual that comes with your machine to find out the exact heating time that will be needed.
While the professional espresso machine is heating up, set up the portafilter. Do this by inserting the spring and pressing the basket into the portafilter. It should click into place. Then, place the portafilter in the group head and lock it into place by turning it to the right. While the machine is not in use, the portafilter is best left locked into the group head so that it can stay warm. This will lead to better-tasting coffee since if the portafilter is cold, the extraction temperature will be lower. Before using the machine, run some hot water through the portafilter to remove any old coffee or cleaning products.
For pouring a shot, grind 18-21 grams of coffee to a fine setting. Place the grounds evenly in the portafilter and tamp it down using the tamper. To ensure an even tamp, have your arm parallel to the portafilter. Then, lock the portafilter and tamped grounds into place on the group head and begin brewing. It usually takes around 22-30 seconds for the extraction process. If it’s taking longer or not as long, your grind size or tamp will usually need adjusting.
A commercial espresso machine is a must for coffee shops and cafes, and a great addition to restaurants and bars that want to provide more coffee beverage options for their customers.