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Choosing the Ideal Coffeemaker

The information below is meant to provide basic information regarding the selection of coffeemaker available in today’s market. My sincere apologies if the information may seem like teaching one’s grandmother to suck an egg for some of you. Yet I have been a coffee industry adviser for several years and it’s been a passion of mine to help out clients in choosing the ideal coffeemaker. It may sound  out of this world, but there are persons who have approached me basically asking, “What is an egg?” Well, facts are just facts, so here’s my how-to advise for you.

The popularity of coffee has dramatically changed the last decade or so in the UK. For one, there’s been an ever-increasing demand for true espresso-based coffees in the country. This is in stark contrast the past 30 years or so when instant pour-and-serve filter coffeemakers were used in masse to satisfy the people’s thirst for “fresh” coffee. I know this because I had had experience selling food-and-drink businesses coffeemakers that make real-bean espresso-based coffees. But today those establishments won’t even take something other than classic espresso machines or bean-to-cup coffeemakers. The trend now is to move away from instant coffee and embrace true and real espresso.

We’re currently witnessing the evolution of the Coffee Culture in the UK and the development of big name brands of cafes flocked by avid espressonites. We’ve made a shift from being a tea-drinking  to coffee-drinking nation. To keep up with the demands of the public, independent establishments have attempted to provide more refined and sophisticated techniques of brewing coffee just to stay afloat in the coffee industry. And it’s a change for the better. Now, it’s easy for the aficionado to enjoy a variety of quality espresso-based drinks with ease through the help of classic Italian-type espresso coffeemakers to the more modern and sophisticated bean-to-cup machines.

A Little Bit of History

Today’s espresso-based coffee revolution started way back in 1938 when Achille Gaggia, a Milanese cafe bartender, came up with a steam-free design for a coffeemaker. His system was innovative as it used a piston-based system to force water to the ground coffee at a very high pressure. Part of Gaggia’s motivation for coming up with his invention is his search for the quintessential espresso. And his quest actually gave rise to the now iconic lines of classic espresso coffeemakers you see in high-end cafes like Cafe Nero where there sits a grinder above a knockout-drawer for coffee-pucks that are spent.

Coffee-making as an Art

Traditional coffee machines today mostly have automated dosing, but brewing coffee is still largely a process made by the hand (also called “artisan”). A single or a double shot is made using such coffeemakers. The machine’s steam wand is used to foam fresh milk. Then, coffee is added to complete popular coffee drinks, such as, macchiato, latte, cappuccino and mocha.

The coffee-making ritual is one of the centre-pieces of the Cafe Culture and is eagerly observed by the clientele who’ll pay higher than usual just to enjoy artisan-style coffee. This kind of coffee preparation, though, is difficult and require training to consistently produce the same quality coffee. With ample practice, however, staff can master the skills to make a range of artistic specialty brews.

Choosing the Machine

Espresso coffeemakers vary in size as well as complexity of operation. It is important that you select a machine that will suit your business’ needs. When choosing your espresso coffeemaker, consider every aspect of your business.

A relative newcomer in the coffee industry, bean-to-cup coffeemakers can nevertheless produce a variety of espresso-based drinks that a traditional machine can. Bean-to-cup machine brewers have a mechanism similar to that of Cafétieres and its coffee-making process is a bit different compared to classic espresso machines. Grounded beans in the brewing-chamber are mixed with hot water, which is forced through the chamber to extract espresso. This is in contrast with traditional machines where pressure is used to force the water in to the group-head so that espresso can be produced.

Bean-to-cup coffeemakers ground roasted coffee-beans to produce espresso in bulk. These machines have built-in automated milk-foaming systems that make steam and produce foamed-milk that is crucial for making cappuccinos, lattes and other milk-based specialty drinks.

And all of these comes at just one touch of the machine’s button. A bean-to-cup coffeemaker is therefore the perfect choice for busy establishments that have a lot of patrons or those that do not have enough manpower to sustain customer demands. It will allow the business’ baristas to prepare other items while waiting for the espresso to brew. This is a big advantage compared to traditional machines where baristas need to make the drinks entirely by hand. That is why bean-to-cup machines are very popular in busy establishments like canteens, cafeterias and fast food outlets. But bean-to-cup coffeemakers have also become a popular choice among aficionados who love to enjoy their favourite specialty coffee even in the comforts of their home.

Bean-to-cup coffeemakers have software that allow preparation of various specialty drinks. There are bean-to-cup machines that are for commercial use. These machines are built to make 8 or up to 12 drinks. There are also domestic bean-to-cup coffeemakers that have steam arms or foamers that are separate to allow cappuccino as well as latte milk to foam simultaneously and separately. This type of bean-to-cup coffeemaker is ideal for a domestic setting where the expected production is not voluminous. It is also recommended for offices that need a production of not more than 20 drinks per day.

It is important to note that if you will be using a coffeemaker for business purposes or in a business setting, the machine must have a business warranty. Domestic coffeemakers do not usually have this kind of warranty, so it is essential to procure a commercial model for a business establishment.

Bean-to-cup coffeemakers for commercial use are made to satisfy various volume productions. You should carefully assess your records to find out how much is your production. Once you have a precise estimate of your business’ production, you can then use that information in your machine selection. The important factors that you should consider are: daily cup and day requirement estimate, size of drink, and the rate of production needed. You should also remember that coffeemaker manufacturers recommend a cup per day specification based on 8 ounce servings with the numbers evenly distributed throughout one business day.

The usual bean-to-cup machine that has a low-volume production can make a maximum of 50 cups of coffee every day. Models that have mid volume production can produce between a hundred and one hundred fifty cups per day. Machines that have a medium-to-high production volume, on the other hand, can produce coffee cups of 150 to 200 per day. Finally, bean-to-cup machines that are high-volume can come up with about 200 to 500 coffee cups in one day. Remember to stick with the required production level of the manufacturer. Bean-to-cup machines may be designed to be robust and endure the day to day demands of your business, but they will start to be less efficient if you use them to produce more cups that what is recommended by the manufacturer.

Bean-to-cup coffeemakers have an advantage over traditional machines in terms of functionality. They are built with easy to use features and will not require extensive training from your baristas. In fact, your staff can operate bean-to-cup machines even if they have zero barista know-how.  But there are high-volume machines that are equipped with steam-wands similar to traditional machines and would require some skills in foaming. But the bulk of the training that will be needed is more on the maintenance of the machine. Finally, it is also important to note that the person operating the machine must have a good working knowledge regarding coffee-beans. This is essential so that you can be sure that the blend will suit the tastes of your customers.

Finally, there are also filter coffeemakers. These are machines we are very familiar with. Your filter coffeemaker of choice should match the production your business requires. If your business requires high-volume coffee production, such as in hotel cafes, convention centres, function areas, and staff cafeterias, a high-volume bulk-brew coffeemaker capable of making hundreds of cups of coffee should be your selection. This machine can come up with about 30 to 140 L fresh filter-coffee in an hour.

There are several manufacturers that make top of the line brands of pour-and-serve and bulk-brew coffeemakers. Pour-and-serve coffeemakers come in models with basic 2 jug-filter machines with 2 hot-plates or multiple hot-plate models that have 4 jugs. Bulk-brew coffeemakers, on the other hand, come in models with one or about two columns for brewing. These machines have brewing-containers that are detachable and can hold a maximum of 40 L of fresh coffee. They also have convenient display and control panels that have easy-to-read LCDs that allow for easy adjustment of brewing periods and required volume. They also have brewing-containers that can be detached which allow large volumes to be served in various locations at the same time. The last type of filter coffeemaker is Bravilor’s RLX. These fresh-filter machines are modular and have additional features for hot-water as well as steam. RLX is perfect for making steam for steamed and foamed milk as well as hot water for great-tasting teas.

It is my hope that the above information will be helpful in your search for the ideal coffeemaker that will suit your needs.

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