There are two types of espresso machine: those that simply make espresso, and those that make an espresso that you would pay good money for. A high-end commercial espresso machine is a completely different animal. These machines are nothing like any others on the inside, even though they might look similar on the outside. So let’s get to know them better: what types of commercial espresso machines are there? What’s the best commercial espresso machine for a small coffee shop? All these -and more- questions will be answered in this article.
10 Best Commercial Espresso Machine
Here’s a table with the list, featuring each commercial espresso machine price and their best feature:
|Name||Best feature||Price range|
|Faema E61 Legend||Temperature control for each grouphead||$9.000|
|Nuova Simonelli Musica||High quality steam wand||$2.500|
|Breville Barista Express||Digital temperature control||$600-$700|
|Breville Oracle Touch||Programmable drinks, pre-programmed drinks||$2.000+|
|La Pavoni Bar-Star||High capacity boiler with short heat-up times and auto shut-off||$5.000-$7.000|
|Gaggia Brera||Easy to navigate LED display||$500|
|La Pavoni PC-16 Professional Espresso Machine||Durable and compact design||$1,199.00|
|Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine, 2020 version||Compact design||$800|
|Breville Barista Pro||Microfoam-friendly steam wand||$800|
|De’Longhi La Specialista||Smart Grinder||$800|
Faema E61 Legend Commercial Espresso Machine
Starting this list off with my personal favorite, the E61 Legend is a throwback to Faema’s most iconic machine, the E61. This was an espresso machine that incorporated most of the features that became then the standard for all others after it. It was released in 1961, and recently revamped and re-released.
The E61 Legend comes with a bunch of ultra-modern features and with a design that makes you think of the sixties while still being a modern-looking machine. In my opinion, this is the best commercial espresso machine out there right now. The problem is usually that it’s rather costly when other machines can do a close enough job for half the price.
The best feature on this machine is the temperature control. It is incredibly precise, unlike in most all other machines, where it’s more of an approximate temperature; here, whatever temperature you choose, your coffee will come out that exact temperature. You can test it.
Plus, you can set different temperatures for each separate group head. This is incredibly valuable for creating the perfect environment for baristas. Being able to assign a group head to a different drink not only maximizes the flavor of that drink but also saves a lot of time.
Nuova Simonelli Musica Commercial Espresso Machine
Caught in the eternal crossfire of home vs commercial espresso machines, this espresso maker is a refreshing in-between choice that can work wonders both in small cafés as well as in your home.
With just one single group head and a relatively small (half a liter) water tank, the Nuova Simonelli might look, at first glance, like just another home espresso machine. But it’s just as powerful as a commercial one, and using it feels like it: with an analog pressure meter on the front of the machine which you can read and adjust pressure accordingly to control the water temperature and an incredibly powerful water heating process which allows you to brew or steam in a matter of seconds.
It makes an incredibly good cup of espresso. The design, however, takes a little getting used to. It’s unique, sure, but that can also mean getting confused and a relatively long time of getting to know how to operate and how to get the best out of the Musica’s features.
A very powerful machine, it can easily go from a very capable home machine to a compact commercial espresso machine.
Breville Barista Express Commercial Espresso Machine
Who better than Breville to completely destroy the notion that coffee makers with built-in grinders were only for casual, home use?
And that exactly is what this machine does. All of its features are of an unequivocally professional quality. The grinder delivers impeccable ground coffee and is equipped with dose control; it has a digitally-controlled temperature system so that the temperature of the brewing water is optimal every time.
With these -and others-, you must be starting to understand why the Barista Express is a clearly more potent machine than all the others. To further destroy the association of built-in grinders and home machines, this coffee maker is designed exactly like classic espresso machines: stainless steel finish, wide and with all the controls at the front. It has that italian commercial espresso machine look but it still manages to be unique and memorable.
Espresso machines with incorporated grinders are a controversial topic. Usually, I wouldn’t approve of this because it’s a feature that we mostly see in middle-range kind of machines, most of them for home use. However, I do have a soft spot for Breville. Their grinders are all good, many of them great. That’s why I make an exception for all Breville espresso machines with incorporated coffee grinders: I know that they know what they’re doing. I know I’m getting a good grinder and not a generic, fragile one that will wear out in a matter of months.
My favorite feature on the Barista Express is the digital temperature control which is so easy to use and makes me feel in control of my coffee instead of leaving it up to the coffee machine. This is very, very important to me.
Breville Oracle Touch Commercial Espresso Machine
Then, on a higher level than the Barista Express, we have the Oracle Touch. It is visually very similar and they definitely do share a very similar design. The difference here, however, is all about operating the machine.
The Barista Express feels much more like an analog thing, where you have a grinder and an espresso machine in the same place. But the Oracle is a completely unique, unified coffee machine that makes you feel like you’re in the future. It is your very own, personal barista that never screws up.
It will not just grind the coffee beans; it will automatically dose (programmable amount), and tamp the coffee for you with extreme precision. But it doesn’t end here. The Oracle Touch is more than capable of producing complex drinks such as a latte or a mochaccino with so much ease that you’ll wonder why isn’t every commercial espresso coffee machine like this one.
It has very powerful features: a triple dedicating heating system, and even a very precise temperature control system that lets you adjust the temperature of the brewing water in increments as small as 1°C. And even then, it has a double-check system which is constantly making sure that the water is at the optimal temperature at all times, a key feature for use in busy coffee shops!
In terms of commercial super automatic espresso machine reviews the Oracle Touch is one of the best ranked out there. And it’s really no surprise, since Breville has for a long time been one of the most reliable providers of all types of coffee-related machines out there. I trust them to make good products because they haven’t failed me once yet and that’s something that puts your mind at ease when buying a product.
La Pavoni Bar-star Commercial Espresso Machine
An incredibly thought-through La Pavoni machine that combines a wide array of practical functions and features with really intuitive controls. It is a complicated machine that is simultaneously super easy to use and one of the best options for new baristas.
Most notably, the Bar-star features an impressive energy-saving function that allows you to run the machine at ¾ power. This enables you to make coffee like you normally would even during the slow hours of the day— while saving a fortune.
It also features an energy-saving mode that puts it to sleep partially and then fully; a feature that is much appreciated for such energy-consuming machines such as this one.
One of the strongest points in favor of this machine is its boiler. Ranging from 14 to 30 liters in capacity, the copper-heated boiler comes with an auto shut-off function and a manual reset for the thermostat.
Gaggia Brera Commercial Espresso Machine
This is hands-down the best use of a digital display I’ve seen in a super-automatic commercial espresso machine. Not only does it look great, but it is also very easy to use and will help you make great coffee with little or no effort. Trust the little screen.
The steam wand is extremely powerful; it will reach steaming-hot temperatures in about ten seconds, which means virtually no wait time between brewing you coffee and frothing the milk for it. This is Gaggia’s top quality steam wand, the Pannarello, which can fit plenty of other Gaggia machines— and can be ordered separately if you need to.
The grinder is impressive, and it can be adjusted to five different settings. The Gaggia Adjusting System lets you program the grinder to grind a specific amount of coffee beans at a time – the exact amount that you need for your morning coffee, for example. This is a much closer use of the grinder that you can see in coffee shops.
This machine is not only a good choice because of the quality of the drinks it makes, but also because of the wide range of coffee drinks you can make with it. Most of the machines on this list can make black coffee, espresso – maybe a little more. But the Gaggia Brera gives you a repertoire worthy of a barista.
It’s a price you can’t beat. Also, how much is a commercial espresso machine? Probably 4 to 10 times as expensive as this one! It may have only one grouphead, but it makes coffee just like any other machine on this list.
La Pavoni PC-16 Commercial Espresso Machine
If you enjoy a foamy and creamy cappuccino, you can use this machine to make just that. The PC-16 Professional Espresso Machine is a small and sleek coffee machine thus it easily fits in the smallest spaces. With a base that comes in two shades, you can now choose your preferred color– chrome or black.
The gauge is placed at the top portion, while the on/off switch is placed on the sides. The lever ends have a plastic finishing which complements the metallic shade.
The use of a piston in the brewing of espresso allows you to improvise. This means that no one knows yet how to brew their perfect kind of espresso. But with the piston setup, you’ll have a hands-on experience on ways of making espresso. With time you’ll know what the perfect cup of espresso tastes like.
One advantage of using the PC-16 professional espresso machine is you get to choose how fast and strong you’ll pump as it is piston-operated. Even then, you can’t come up with your style if using this commercial espresso machine in one sitting. Realize that it’ll take more time, however, it will be a fun experience.
Rancilio Commercial Espresso Machine, 2020 release
Rancilio machines have always had a certain quality that makes them reassuring to use. They are smooth, intuitive, and give you just enough control to make great coffee. They don’t have any flashy features or a bunch of buttons that make it really confusing to operate.
You shouldn’t have to read a user’s manual to use an espresso machine. It’s that simple.
The guys at Rancilio get it. I’ve used this machine before and I can say that it’s incredibly satisfying. It has the simple and analog-looking design of old machines but it works absolute wonders. It pulls shots with a very thick crema and heats up very quickly for a machine this size.
All in all, it’s a machine that I would always recommend. It’s a great option for small, it has plenty of space for cups on top -another commercial-oriented feature- and it’s in a price range that seems almost surprising for a machine this good.
The brand new release which I haven’t seen in person yet looks slick. It actually makes a great difference; it usually blends in and sometimes even looks like a decoration, antique coffee maker. This new version adds a lot of personality and I can’t wait to put my hands on it!
Breville Barista Pro Commercial Espresso Machine
If you’re in the market looking for a simple commercial automatic espresso machine, this is one of your best options.
This model is Breville’s answer to their clients asking for an espresso machine of their automatic line that actually has a more professional-oriented look as well as upgraded features to up your game.
There isn’t much to say about this coffee maker that I haven’t said before. It’s somewhere above the Barista Express and below the Oracle. It does have a much more straight look with no design features that stand out which make it able to chameleon its way into a coffee shop. Basically, it’s a very good co-protagonist for your shop. Particularly if your main coffee maker isn’t so good at milk steaming, the Barista Pro really does shine when making lattes.
De’Longhi La Specialista Commercial Espresso Machine
Now, this is a smart coffee maker. The De`Longhi Specialista is an automatic espresso machine that doesn’t like to do things halfway. The grinder is a smart grinder, constantly checking how many beans there are and what the correct setting is for them. The doser is also smart in the way that identifies the correct dose and, depending on the grind size chosen, tamps according to it to get a perfect tamping no matter what kind of grind size you choose.
The most important feature here -besides the smart grinder, which is sort of unique among automatic machines- is the heat up time. No, it’s not just the heat up time; it’s the time that the machine takes to get up and running in terms of heating the water and being ready to make your coffee. How long does your usual machine take? 10 seconds? 20? A whole minute?
Well, the Specialista is ready the second you push your button. That is, one mere second. It’s always ready to go. It has an incredibly powerful motor that can take more strain than you can ever dream to put on it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Semi-automatic Vs. Fully automatic: which is better?
Semi-automatic machines are the most loved, both by customers and baristas. Some people will come only to admire the beauty of the espresso machine; watching as the barista makes the drink is half the fun for some.
But these machines are both hard to master and hard to maintain. You need both a barista and an experienced person to take care of it.
That’s where the automatic espresso machine comes in: you don’t need to depend on anyone, because these machines do all the work by themselves (even most of the maintenance and cleaning) and the quality of your coffee will be just as good.
No one type of machine is better than the other, but they do fit different contexts. If you’re thinking of buying an automatic machine with a grinder, you should take these three things into consideration:
- Grinding settings: It’s easy; the more settings it has, the more different kinds of coffee you can make. Very little grinder settings can really limit the taste of your coffee – and you might grow tired of it in the long run.
- Dimensions: If the reason you want one of these is because you just don’t have the space for a big coffee grinder, then you should narrow it down to the smaller ones on the list. Not all of these are made to be compact.
- Customizable settings: In our experience, those who want a grinder usually prefer to have a lot of control over their coffee. So you have to pay close attention: Some of the most inexpensive coffee makers have to sacrifice a lot of adjustable settings for the sake of having a grinder. It would be a mistake to trade one for the other if you like to customize your coffee.
What does super automatic mean?
A super automatic espresso machine is one that has been designed to do almost all of the work for you. They are in a way closer to vending machines that they are close to a regular coffee maker.
In this type of machine, all you have to do is make sure the machine is stocked full of water, with either whole or ground coffee depending on the machine, and milk. Then, by inputting some directions -probably through a touch screen- the machine will do the rest by itself.
It’s 2020. The idea of such machines in the past was definitely linked to bad quality coffee, but that is just not the case anymore. You can actually get a professional, specialty-level drink made with just one touch of a button.
How many groupheads should my machine have?
A grouphead, as you may know, is where the espresso comes from. You are able to make one, maybe even two coffees at the same time for each grouphead.
You will need to estimate (as accurately as you can) the amount of workload you expect your espresso machine to handle.
For big workloads and busy cafés, it’s much more efficient to have a machine with 4 groupheads and 2 steam wands, so that two baristas can work separately without interfering with each other.
If you don’t expect such a big workload -and don’t even expect to need more than one person making coffee- than a smaller machine with one or two groupheads will be more than enough.
Never underestimate an automatic machine either: They will do both the grinding and brewing, and have your espresso ready faster than other machines, though you can’t make more than two shots at the same time.
Single-grouphead machines can be a viable option as well. As long as you have a good barista at the wheel, one single grouphead can provide for about 10 people at the same time. You may have a very small delay when delivering, but that’s nothing against the promise of good coffee.
It’s easy to get carried away ordering 4-grouphead machines only to have them slowly rust because they’ll never get the use they deserve. “The more, the better” does not apply in this case!
What espresso machine should I buy?
I get it. It’s super hard to choose. It might actually be worse now that we have so many viable choices for espresso machines (whether commercial or semi) than before. It used to be that you couldn’t even shop for commercial machines on the internet— you had to directly contact the company to even find out the price of their machines.
Nowadays, however, it’s a whole different modus operandi. We need to carefully study each machine and see how they fit into our plans.
Here’s a very short, but useful, list of things to keep in mind whenever buying a coffee machine:
Features – This means pay close attention to whether or not you really need a lot of features.
Capacity – The machine’s capacity, or just how big is it to put it simply, is to be considered mostly because it’s important for you to evaluate whether you really need a big coffee maker or not. See just how much space you have available in your workspace or kitchen – and then see if you can afford the amount of space that the coffee maker takes up
Warranty – Coffee makers are fragile things. Watch your own back, and get yourself a good warranty.
Use – This is also important. If you’re gonna use it once a day for a few cups of coffee, a huge machine would be a bad choice – similarly, you can’t buy a small machine and use it at a coffee shop because the poor little thing will give up in no time.