As the backbone of every coffee shop, there is perhaps no decision more important when setting up a coffee shop than the selection of the machine which will make the brew.
You will definitely want to be looking into high capacity commercial coffee machines, which are capable of pumping out multiple gallons of steaming hot coffee hourly. Rarely will you see your home style coffee maker in a coffee shop, as these machines are both too slow and low capacity to keep up with the demands of your (hopefully quite successful) coffee shop.
So what to look for when picking out the machine which will make the business tick? Let’s have a look.
1. Fresh and Tasty
Any coffee drinker can readily tell you that the best cup is a fresh one. Coffee can rapidly lose its flavour after being brewed, declining in quality as it is exposed to oxygen, or becoming over cooked if it is kept on a warming plate for an extended period. Even at home or in the office, this is a problem which can send a picky coffee drinker off to brew a fresh pot – but at a coffee shop, this is an utterly unacceptable situation: each cup needs to come out fresh and without a hint of staleness or over cooked burnt flavour.
The way to solve this problem is two fold.
Firstly, you need a machine which is capable of brewing a high volume of coffee rapidly. Commercial coffee makers are capable of pumping out multiple gallons – hundreds of cups – of coffee per hour. This should be plenty for all but the busiest of shops, but it is important to do research and attempt to collect some data on the expected number of customers you’ll be serving per hour, and try to estimate how many cups you might be required to serve at peak hours. This data will be very useful in helping you to select the coffee maker which can best accommodate the needs of your customers.
The second requirement of your coffee machine for dealing with high volumes of coffee being brewed is having a quality storage system. Once again, data is important. Ideally, you will establish an efficient ratio of the amount of coffee being brewed to the amount being sold, allowing you to maintain a relatively low amount of coffee on hand being stored at any given time. But because you will certainly be making large batches, storage is important.
A quality coffee machine will have a large insulated stainless steel storage reservoir, which minimises the amount of air which can contact the coffee, while simultaneously providing the insulation which removes the need for use of a warming plate to keep the brew warm. This insulation is vital for keeping quality coffee from burning, while also substantially reducing electricity consumption in a coffee shop which might otherwise need to constantly power an electric warming plate.
2. Roast Multiple Brews Simultaneously
What kind of coffee shop only has one brew on offer? You’ll definitely be wanting to serve up different brews of coffee from different sources, not to mention different types of coffee drinks such as cappuccino or specialty drinks. For coffee shops which offer a huge number of different types of coffee, this will ultimately mean you will need to invest in multiple coffee makers. If you are a smaller coffee shop, or maybe just serve coffee on the side, you might be able to get away with one of the commercial coffee machines on the market which is capable of brewing multiple batches of coffee from different sources simultaneously.
These all in one options bring with them plenty of neat bells and whistles, like multiple grinders and bean hoppers which allow you to simply add fresh, unground beans into the machine of multiple varieties and seamlessly produce multiple cups of different brews all at once. Having integrated coffee grinders is a particularly great feature which helps simplify the workflow in your coffee shop: just dump the beans in and so long as there is enough water in the reservoir, the coffee practically brews itself!
3. Easy Cleaning
In order to keep everything up to high standards of sanitation and keep everything fresh and uncontaminated, regular cleaning is a necessary part of maintenance for any coffee shop. Many units offer self-cleaning options which can, at least to some extent, automate this process with a mechanical cleaning cycle.
While automatic cleaning can certainly help keep the standards of cleanliness up with a bit of mechanical assistance, auto cleaning features are generally not quite enough to handle one hundred percent of your coffee machine cleaning needs. This means it is important to look for a unit which is easy to clean.
Some coffee machines might have a lot of pieces which need to be removed in order to clean it, or worse still, contain non-removable parts which tend to get gunked up. This can lead to bad situations where hard to clean units become neglected and the standards of cleanliness decline, with the quality of coffee being produced by the machines suffering as a result. Do some research and try to ensure that the unit you are selecting will be one which won’t present too much hassle when it comes time to do some routine cleaning or maintenance.
4. Consider Your Water Source
Some commercial coffee machines are capable of hooking up directly to the plumbing at your coffee shop, meaning you won’t have to worry about filling up the reservoir to keep the coffee flowing. This can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how easy it is to get hooked up to your plumbing!
Generally, shops which brew higher volumes of coffee probably want to opt for direct water source machines which draw straight from the plumbing, as the process of monitoring and refilling the machine throughout the day can become a constant, tedious task.
Do Your Homework!
Perhaps one of the most important parts of the whole business, the coffee machine in your shop is something you really should not skimp on. Take your time to assess all possible options, evaluate your business, and find the best option for your shop. Good luck!