What Beans for your Coffee Machines ?

Domestic coffee use has evolved from packets of instant coffee in the kitchen cupboard, to stylish and sophisticated pod and capsule machines. As a result, our expectations of good coffee have been raised, and as a business it is our duty to produce high quality drinks for customers which meet these expectations. So which way do we turn?

Traditional Espresso Machines

Available in various shapes and sizes i.e. 1, 2, 3 and 4 group machines (a group is where water is dispensed from, which passes through the coffee that sits in the group handle. A group handle can be a single or double group, which enables you to dispense either one or two shots of coffee dependent on the amount of coffee place into the handle i.e. usually around 7 or 14 grams) and semi and fully automatic (semi-automatic is where you control the dose of coffee and turn it off when you have enough, fully automatic means that the buttons have a pre-set dose and the machine will stop by its self). These machines usually feature either one or two steam arms for frothing/steaming milk, and one or two hot water outlets.

When you purchase a traditional machine package, they should consist of the following basic items:

•A grinder to grind the coffee
•Knock-out drawer which can sit either underneath the machine or under the grinder, enabling you to "knock-out" the used coffee
•Barista kit which can include such basic items such as a frothing jug, thermometer, pallet knife, chocolate shaker and an espresso shot glass
•Water filter which is connected to a mains cold water feed to prevent build up of lime scale inside the boiler and on the element,

Ideally, you will also need to provide a mains waste connection. The size of machine depends on the size of establishment or how busy you think you will be. The most common one by far is a 2 group fully automatic machine, but some smaller sites will have 1 and larger establishments may have 3 or 4.

These machines are very much about theatre and indeed they are for show as making coffee is very much an art and good barista training is extremely important and becoming skilled at understanding and making good coffee takes time and practice as it is very easy to make a bad coffee. Prices can vary from around £800 to £6000, but remember, you get what you pay for, so make sure that the machine you choose is new and fully warranted, including full barista training and a good support service. The great thing about traditional machines is that there are no major moving parts so less to go wrong.

In more recent years traditional espresso machines have become more advanced, incorporating things such as boiler or group head temperature control facilities which enable you to tailor the temperature of the espresso water to suit the varying brewing temperatures of coffee. Other innovations include automatic steam wands, also known as hyper wands or turbo wands, enabling you to automatically froth or steam your milk perfectly without any human intervention.

Bean to Cup Machines

A bean to cup machine does exactly what it says! The fresh coffee beans are placed inside the machine and on the press of a button the machine automatically grinds the beans and pours both coffee and milk into your cup.

Bean to cup machines, such as Jura coffee machines, are quick and easy, and make quality fresh coffee at the touch of a button. What you need to remember with this type of system is that there are a lot of moving parts so more to potentially go wrong and there is need for daily cleaning which has to be adhered to otherwise your great coffee won't be so great the following day!

This type of system is ideal for a pub restaurant where staff training can sometimes be a problem; it is also great for convenience stores or petrol stations where a take away coffee station may be required. Some smaller machines require very little installation or training and can be tank fed, so no need for plumbing. These machines will also usually feature some form of de-scale cycle instead of a water filter to prevent scale build-up. It usually takes between 30 and 50 seconds from pressing the button to filling the cup, depending on the cup size and type of drink selection. Some of the higher volume machines can produce two milk based drinks at once, while most will make two black coffees at once, an essential feature for some very busy sites.

As time has passed, even the bean to cup machine has developed, and can now be found to use various combinations which feature fresh beans, fresh milk or an instant/granulated milk, instant hot chocolate and instant coffee.

These various machines are designed to produce anything from 50 cups per day to over 500 per day. The cost of these can vary from under £1000 to well over £10000, so it is important you make the correct choice.

Summary - Traditional Espresso versus Bean to Cup

The traditional machines without doubt are for those who want the theatricality of coffee making. The advantage is that they make great coffee, so long as those making it are fully trained. A combination of machine and thorough training can produce the true Italian coffee experience.

Bean to cup machines are quick, easy and require very little staff training. The machines will roughly produce the same coffee each and every time the buttons are pressed, whether it be 16 or 60 times, but remember, they have to be looked after and cleaned on a daily basis or problems will arise very quickly.

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About The Author, Eloise Whitling