Commercial Espresso Machines – What Are Your Choices?

Commercial espresso machines come in a variety of designs, styles and sizes just like their consumer counterparts. The biggest differences would be of course, price. And with price comes new features, usually, but also the ability of the commercial espresso makers to stand up to a lot more abuse and quantity of the beverages that is required of it. You’ll also find that the commercial espresso machine is usually much faster in both pouring shots and steaming milk.

Many of the commercial espresso coffee makers are manufactured by companies that don’t offer consumer models. Not sure why this is. But some brands of commercial espresso machines are Faema, La Spaziale, Gaggia (they make consumer machines), Magister and Rancilio. Rancilio commercial espresso machines are perhaps one of the more popular brands available to coffee shop owner and corporations.

A big difference between the home espresso machine and the industrial espresso machine or best commercial espresso machine is that the commercial ones will be pump driven. Many of these pump driven espresso machines, or should I say most of them are actually attached to the plumbing of the coffee shop. A pump driven cappuccino machine uses a motor pump rather than manual force to push water through the espresso beans to create the espresso. This type of machine was first introduced by Faema in 1961.

Pump driven commercial espresso machines

In the pump driven espresso machine their are 4 variants, which are: single boiler, single boiler dual use, heat exchanger and dual boiler. The single boiler is fairly uncommon as it only allows for the brewing of coffee and not steaming which defeats the purpose of an espresso machine.

The single boiler dual use allows for both brewing and steaming. However, because steaming is usually done with hotter water than brewing, the boiler needs to transition to create the hotter water for steaming so there is a bit of a lag. Though the single boiler dual use espresso machine is popular in the inexpensive home consumer market.

Some espresso machines use a single boiler that keeps the temperature of the water at the steaming level and when the water is needed for brewing it is passed though a heat exchanger which takes away some of the heat to allow for the relatively “cooler” temperature required for brewing. Though there can be some inconsistency with how much heat is exchanged or taken away, most of the newer machines are fairly accurate at keeping both temperature settings fairly consistent. Mid range home machines use this method and many commercial espresso machines use this type of pump driven system too. In fact this was the type of machine that Faema introduced in 1961 as their E61 model, of which they have recently reintroduced a replica for both home and commercial markets.

Dual boiler commercial espresso machines

The dual boiler espresso machine as you can imagine makes use of 2 boilers that keep water at 2 different temperatures. The one boiler is dedicated to keeping water at brewing temperature and the other boiler is dedicated to keeping water at steaming temperature. A lot of high end home espresso machines use this dual boiler system and many commercial espresso machines use this system too. There is also a variant of the heat exchanger espresso machine that uses a thermoblock. A thermoblock espresso machine uses one boiler but the water in this boiler is kept at the “cooler” brewing temperature for more consistent espresso and then the water is heated by the thermoblock when needed for steaming purposes at the hotter temperature.

The La Marzocco was the first dual boiler introduced in 1970. Commercial espresso machines can use one boiler for multiple purposes or they can use multiple boilers for dedicated purposes.

As with home espresso machines, commercial espresso machines can also be either automatic where by the amount and pressure of the water is determined by the espresso machine. Or they can be super automatic where not only is the amount and pressure of the water is dictated by the espresso machine, but the commercial espresso machines also grind, tamp and discard the beans when they are done with.