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Choosing the right coffee machine for your business

  • 5 min read

Here our Business Development Manager, Paul Rigby, gives his top five tips to consider when buying a new machine.

Selecting the right equipment for your café, restaurant, hotel or pub can be a daunting process particularly if you have no experience in the industry.
There is so much information on the internet about various coffee machines, finance deals, leasing vs buying and it’s hard to know who to trust so I have put together what I see as the top 5 considerations when making what will be one the most (if not the most) crucial investment to your café.

1. How much coffee will you serve?

This is important. If you are planning on serving large numbers of coffees with significant peaks in the day (200 + cups) then you must consider the size of your machine and accept that technology is a conversation you should be having. Many people will assume they need a 3-group machine because they are serving lots of coffee and yes, a 3 group does have a larger capacity than a 2-group.
The busiest coffee shops are able to offer a stable coffee quality and taste with a 2-group machine and a separate small water boiler for tea and Amerciano. For the businesses serving smaller amounts of coffee (30-70 cups) then there are some great compact machines in the market and there have been a spike in the number of small restaurants and bars wanting to offer a great standard of coffee but where space on the counter is at a premium. Focus on the stability of the espresso quality and not the amount of water you can pull from the machine for pots of tea.

For more information on the machines Owens can supply, click on the link here.

2. Training

You need this. Work with your supplier and get the most from your investment. If you are replacing an existing machine, then it’s quite likely that your espresso and milk quality has been below standard. I often compare new machines to new cars; they are easier to use and get the results you are looking for. For a car you are looking for comfort, economy and ease of driving and with a new coffee machine you will be producing improved espresso quality and silkier milk texture, a better cup. Work with your coffee partners to ensure the settings on the machine are spot on and take the opportunity to learn and understand why this was a great decision for your business.

What I will add here is that it is much easier to apply skill and training to new machines and this is because everything works 100%. Back to the car analogy, if you tried to race an old, tired car round a racetrack then it will be less responsive than a modern car, it will run hotter and will not be comfortable to race in! All of Owens trade customers receive bespoke and regular barista training for staff in our brand new training room at the Roastery in Ivybridge, or of course, we can come to you.

3. Design.

Espresso machines come in different shapes and sizes and usually manufacturers have their own theme across the range. If you are starting a business from scratch then you might want to consider the shape and colours available on the market and see how they fit in with your décor and layout.

If you are a specialty coffee house or coffee quality led business then I would expect that your coffee machine will be in a proud, prominent position and will be a flagship focal point in your shop and rightly so.

4. Budget

With all the above points considered – training, design and volume - in most situations it would be fair to say that if a business is selling coffee and wants to sell more, then an espresso machine upgrade will achieve that if done properly.

Cost is important. Just like any investment it must be right, at the right time and give you a return. This is a conversation we are often having with clients right across the hospitality spectrum and what I can say is that ‘there is a way it can work for you.’

Different people have different concepts of money. Whilst some business owners prefer to buy outright, others prefer to spread the cost and the latter is now the preferred option to established and even new businesses. You don’t have to spend your cash reserves and there was once a time when business leasing was difficult to obtain but now there are better systems in place and financing is a smoother process than it once was.

Leasing does make sense for small businesses. Speak to your accountant to understand the tax benefits of leasing. One benefit for example is that lease payments are treated as a direct operating expense, the status of a ‘lease’ rather than a liability on a company’s balance sheet is something the banks like to see, which is why an operating lease can be attractive. For this reason, leasing is often referred to as ‘off balance sheet’ financing – a tremendous advantage to both large and small businesses.

5. Where are you at?

Where in the industry do you position yourself? Most hospitality providers will admit where they see their business and quite often this is predetermined by factors like location or competition in the area. For example, if you are in a busy high street location peppered with specialty coffee shops then you’ll be forced to compete on quality and service at the highest level – So you will need the best.

If coffee is not the main reason for driving traffic into your shop, then that is fine. We see that often so you may only need a small compact machine but don’t skimp on the grinder and make sure you are working with your roaster to get the best results even if your volumes are low.

So, in summary if you are investing in a new machine for a new business or upgrading an existing then yes, do the research as anyone would, but talk to your coffee roaster and trust their opinions because like us at Owens, we only have one objective and that is for our clients to be offering the highest standard of coffee showcasing the skills that we teach. We help to build client brands which in turn helps to build ours and that is a perfect partnership.

If you would like a no obligation chat with me, Paul Rigby, drop me an email at paul@owenscoffee or call on 07393 147857.



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