Choosing an Espresso Machine

Handy advice for choosing an espresso machine for your cafe

Interview with Tom Handiside from La Marzocco

Choosing an espresso machine will be one of the most important choices you make when setting up a café. There are so many different kinds of machines (automatic, semi-automatic, manual), sizes and style - we asked Tom Handiside,  La Marzocco General Manager, to give us some helpful advice. 

First up, know your customers and their coffee tastes. Tom says New Zealand is a sophisticated and mature espresso drinking market, “We take our coffee seriously and expect a decent cup every time!”. Once you’ve decided what kind of coffee you want to make, then it’s time to choose a machine that will deliver the result.  Visit several roasters to find out what sort of coffee and machine you need – they can make good recommendations to help you. “The key to success is matching your needs with a roaster’s ability to support you,” recommends Tom.

1. Do your Research

Ask other people in the coffee industry what machine they recommend? Do their staff find the machine easy to use? Is the manufacturer/supplier helpful and speedy with support? Look into the difference between buying, leasing and renting your espresso machine and find out who pays for what within a coffee supply agreement, like warranty, parts, labour and water treatment.

2. Quality equipment, quality coffee

The espresso machine is at the heart of a café so choose quality equipment.

“Customers pay the same coffee price across your opening hours,” says Tom.  “You should give them the same quality of drinks all day, every day. You’ll find that if you can invest in quality coffee equipment, you can create a frictionless workflow and achieve superior quality coffee every time.”

3. Choosing an espresso machine

Understanding what you want from an espresso machine is very important. “We find La Marzocco models provide simple to use, durable features that support the vast majority of New Zealand’s finest coffee shops. When buying an espresso machine you can’t afford to buy poor quality,” advises Tom.

Think about the type of bench or counter space you have, the dedicated coffee area, and level of barista skill. Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked, like can your bench hold a heavy espresso machine?

 Ask the La Marzocco team for advice on espresso machines - they love to provide advice in a supportive and consultative way to new operators.

4. Location, location, location

The location of the espresso machine in your café is very important. When planning your café layout, have a think about work flow and lines of sight. Customers should be able to see the espresso machine as they walk in the door – it’s reassuring to see an excellent set-up with quality machinery and products in use.

If you are not sure where to place it, get some help or advice from different people in the industry to get this right the first time.

“Once you know where you want your espresso machine to be situated, bring the water and power to this area and make sure there is space and the right equipment adjacent to the coffee machine,” says Tom. “This will make it easy for your barista to prepare and serve coffees and ideally a create a frictionless workflow.”

5. Take care! 3 simple steps to looking after your espresso machine:

“Once you’ve made your choice of espresso machine, don’t forget to regularly maintain and service it to achieve optimum working life and ROI (return on investment),” says Tom.

“Ultimately, your coffee volumes will dictate the frequency of service and the costs associated with machines and all other equipment needs.

#1. Good espresso machines are not cheap so make sure that staff appreciate them and are well-trained at using the machine.

#2. Clean the machine regularly and have operational standards for everyone to follow.

#3. Plan regular preventative maintenance that is in line with coffee volumes and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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