Coffee Machine Buyers Guide
Bean There & Co is the authorised distributor of the Expobar, Fiamma, Iberital and La Marzocco coffee machines within Australia and S/E Asia. Bean There & Co can supply a coffee machine catering for the home market all the way through to larger commercial configurations (1,2,3,& 4 groups) capable of producing large volume coffee in a day.
Selecting the most appropriate coffee machine will depend on a number of factors such as clients preferences and primary usage and also by the amount the client is willing to spend.
Domestic coffee machines will be suitable for home and smaller offices who consume small amounts of coffee throughout a day. For cafe’s, restaurant’s, larger offices and mobile coffee carts who require larger volume particularly at peak periods, then a commercial coffee machine is required. These can go from compact 1 group up to 4 group configurations with multi boilers. For both domestic and commercial coffee machines, aesthetics will also drive the type of machine that the client will ultimately select.
This buying guide will help speed the shortlist of potential coffee machines for consideration.
Single Boiler Coffee Machine
A single boiler machine is ideal for 2 to 4 cups of coffee in a single session. Ideal for couples or those that have black espresso’s with the occasional café latte. For this type of use, a single boiler machine may suffice.
Single boiler machines typically have thermostats that regulate the temperature. There is one thermostat for coffee extraction and another thermostat for the steam production. Single boiler machines can only either extract coffee or steam milk but not do both simultaneously. Typically the same water in the boiler is used for the espresso extraction and steam production.
Single boiler machines when turned on are designed to reach a certain temperature for espresso extraction, but when the user depresses the steam button, the steam thermostat is engaged to allow the boiler to go to a higher temperature to produce steam. The downside of single boiler machines is that to switch from one function to the other takes around a minute. In particular to switch from steam production to espresso extraction, the unit needs to cool or water needs to be run through the steam wand so that the temperature is lowered for espresso extraction. A cautionary tail is that not cooling this may result in the portafilter exploding off the group head due to the steam force in the boiler.
Also another downside to the single boiler machines is that when switching one function to the other heats the boiler to produce steam, but at this point often the boiler may be low or close to empty and as such the heating element may be quite hot. These type of machines do not have a control board to regulate this and if the steam control is left on, the element may burn out.
As a result, we don’t recommend these for regular and busy coffee consumption. If you’re looking to make several milk coffees in quick succession, a heat exchanger or dual boiler machine will be required.
Heat Exchanger Coffee Machine
A heat exchanger machine is ideal for more than 4 cups of coffee in a single session. Ideal for families, small offices and singles and primarily espresso/long black with higher requirements for milk coffee.
Heat exchanger machines may be operated by simply raising or lowering a lever or with a simple toggle switch.
Mechanically, heat exchanger machines have one boiler which has piping or tubing that goes through the boiler. This is referred to as the heat exchanger. Boilers that have heat exchangers also have water level regulators that are connected to the water level sensor in the boiler. These monitor the water level so that it remains above the heating element. Above this is the available steam which is regulated by a pressure regulator.
The heat exchanger is purely dedicated to espresso extraction. In basic principle, cold water from the reservoir passes through the heat exchanger via the pump and is heated by the hot water and steam in the boiler. This passes through the ground coffee in the portafilter which is locked into place on the group head and the end result is espresso extraction. Since there is steam already in the boiler there is not wait time to change from coffee extraction to steam production. In fact, heat exchangers are both able to make espresso and steam milk simultaneously.
Some prefer heat exchanger machines because the water used for brewing does not make direct contact with the boiler element and does not sit in the boiler for an extended amount of time. Most Heat exchanger machines come with the e61 group. The benefits of this group are high thermally stability as well as gentle build up to the full 9 bar pressure.
Heat Exchanger machines will cater easily for family gatherings and small offices as all have water tanks of over 2 litres.
Dual Boiler Coffee Machine
A dual boiler machine is ideal for maximum control of coffee extraction from a small physical foot print. Ideal for families, offices and coffee connoisseurs consuming less than 20 to 30 cups of coffee in a session. In terms of black espressos, these can be done through out the day with no problem but if you are looking to have milky coffees, then limiting this to 20 to 30 cups in a session is advised.
In terms of its operation, a dual boiler coffee machine takes water from its reservoir via the pump and forces the water out into the steam boiler and also into the brew boiler. Within the steam and brew boilers sits an element which heats the water. Additionally a thermostat is also present to regular temperatures within the steam and brew boilers. When the steam knob is turned, steam is emitted from the steam wand which is generally hotter than the temperature of the brew boiler. Similarly, when the brew boiler is engaged, then water passes through portafilter which is locked into place on the group head and the end result is espresso extraction. Dual boiler machines are both able to make espresso and steam milk simultaneously.
Dual boilers are classified as small commercial machines and have the added benefit of being quite compact. Some have vibrational pumps which work off a tank although it is possible to have rotary pumps which can be plumbed in directly into mains water. All have PID control of shot temperature and have dual elements, one for steam boiler and one for brew boiler.
Many prefer the dual boiler configuration because the temperature of the brew water can be controlled and they generally heat up faster. These coffee machines will cater for gatherings of people and smaller offices with no problem.
Semi Automatic Coffee Machine
A semi automatic coffee machine is the standard coffee machine used by baristas in coffee shops. When using a semi automatic coffee machine, the “barista” must grind the coffee using a separate coffee grinder then tamp the freshly ground coffee into the portafilter.
Once this has been completed, the barista will use the control board to deliver a shot of espresso. Typically a small single shot (15 mls), small double shot (30 mls), large single shot (45 mls) and a large double shot (60 mls). With the touch of a button, the machine will start brewing and then stop automatically when enough espresso has been brewed.
Finally, the barista can then texture the milk with the espresso machine.
Manual Coffee Machine
Some coffee machine traditionalists prefer the manual coffee machine. Similarly with the semi-automatic coffee machine, the “barista” must grind the coffee using a separate coffee grinder then tamp the freshly ground coffee into the portafilter.
The next step is to brew the coffee. To brew an espresso on a manual machine the barista must start the brewing process and stop it when enough espresso has been brewed the volume required. An experienced barista will be able to determine the correct shot for a small single shot (15 mls), small double shot (30 mls), large single shot (45 mls) and a large double shot (60 mls). For novices, it may be more difficult, hence why we advise clients to weigh up all options before purchasing their coffee machine.
The next step is to view our large range of coffee machines, then contact us and visit our Ashburton showroom to see the coffee machines first hand. The perfect machine for you will be the one which best meets all of your requirements. Bean There & Co will showcase each machine to help you to make the right decision.
With over 70 machines and grinders to view, we’ll guarantee that you’ll find the perfect coffee machine and coffee grinder.
Coffee Grinder Buyers Guide
Bean There & Co is the authorised distributor of the Macap, Iberital, Mazzer and Compak coffee grinders within Australia and S/E Asia. Bean There & Co can supply a coffee grinder catering for the home market all the way through to larger deli grinders capable of grinding tonnage of coffee beans.
Selecting the most appropriate coffee grinder will depend on a number of factors such as clients preferences and primary usage and also by the amount the client is willing to spend.
Domestic coffee grinders and lower end commercial coffee grinders will be suitable for home and smaller offices who consume small amounts of coffee throughout a day. For cafe’s, restaurant’s, larger offices and mobile coffee carts who require larger volume particularly at peak periods, then a commercial coffee grinder is required.
Do I Need A Coffee Grinder?
Yes. If you are intending to purchase a coffee machine, you’ll need purchase a suitable coffee grinder. Ground coffee goes stale very quickly within a matter of minutes, so having the ability to freshly grind whole bean roasted coffee is the essential ingredient to obtaining the perfect espresso. Old and stale ground coffee will not achieve a good espresso. There would be a lack of crème and the flavour would be flat and dull. You can’t make great espresso at home or at a café without a quality burr coffee grinder.
Our small domestic coffee grinders start at around $300 and will go into the thousands for commercial coffee grinders. But typically around the $300 to $600 range will suit most of our domestic buyers. For commercial around the $750 to $1500 will be a guide.
This buying guide will help speed the shortlist of potential coffee grinders for consideration.
There are inexpensive small hand grinders out on the market. They are however terrific for many manual methods of producing coffee. Whilst not as good as a high end domestic coffee grinders nor a low end commercial coffee grinders they are a significant step up from the blade coffee grinder type. Whilst also a little manual intensive, they will grind the coffee beans at a low RPM.
Blade Verses Burr Coffee Grinders
There are two classes of grinders: blade and burr. Whilst cheap blade grinders are sold as coffee grinders by many department stores, they should be avoided at all costs for the grinding of coffee. These blade grinders should be only used for the grinding of spices and not roasted coffee beans. Of the burr grinders, there are cheap and expensive conical burr grinders and the flat burr grinders.
Flat Burrs Verses Conical Burrs
The burrs are the part of the grinder which crushes the coffee beans into a uniform and consistent size which is essential for extracting coffee. There are two types of burrs namely conical or flat.
Both burr grinders have one stationary burr whilst the motor turns the other. A conical burrs grinder have two cone shaped burrs with ridges that grind/crush the coffee. For flat burrs this is typically flat in shape.
Doser Coffee Grinders
Doser grinders were fairly popular in the early 2000’s and were found in most cafes and the homes of those who were serious about coffee. This is where the dosing chamber continues to fill up with ground coffee only switching off until the sensor detects that the dosing chamber is full (around 250 grams of ground coffee).
The limitation of this class of grinders is if the dosing chamber is allowed to fill, the coffee in the doser is likely to become stale within a few minutes. Switched on cafes began grinding through their doser by switching the grinder on only when coffee was required, clicking until they had a suitable dose and then switching the grinder off. Whilst grind on demand grinders have become more popular, there is still a place for doser grinders in the domestic and commercial scene.
Grind On Demand Coffee Grinders
Grind on demand grinders have been around for a few years, but represent the latest and best in coffee bean grinding technology. With grind on demand, you grind only when you need a shot of ground coffee. The coffee beans are ground on demand into your portafilter basket for immediate use. With no dosing chamber, this reduces the potential for ground coffee to go stale as you only use the ground coffee when required. Whilst this type of coffee grinder has spread in popularity, you do get a massive range of options varying from $300 upwards to $5,000 plus.
Price Range Coffee Grinder Options
< $100 – Hand grinders & Blade Coffee Grinders.
These are the most affordable of the coffee grinder options, but as been previously highlighted blade coffee grinders should not be used for grinding coffee beans. These should be used only for grinding spices. Hand grinders are an option, but if finances permit you should upgrade to the high end domestic coffee grinder range.
< $300 – High End Domestic Coffee Grinders.
The pick of the bunch is Iberital Challenge Auto or Iberital Challenge Manual. These are a high end domestic coffee grinder which in the past has had a life span of several years and upwards. These are capable of grinding up to 2 Kg per week. The grinding range is not a good as the commercial coffee grinders and noise (DB) is quite high. But for lower grind volumes, this is a good option.
$301 to $749 – Flat Burr Commercial Coffee Grinders.
This represents the best value for money for most coffee applications. At this price point, you are purchasing a small commercial grinder which will grind on demand into your portafilter.
These grinders will produce very consistent particle size and with care will last for around 10 plus years. Examples include the beautifully compact Macap M2M GOD and Macap M2D GOD which offers exceptional performance and superior grind retention.
Some grinders in this class have stepped grind settings, some offer continuously variable grind. We prefer continuously variable grind where possible. The smaller variants usually have a stepped adjustment and so long as the steps are small (i.e Macap), this compromise is fine. The Macap M2M GOD coffee grinder and the Macap M2D GOD coffee grinder are also quite compact for tight spaces.
$900 to $2000 – Coffee Connoisseur
These are exceptionally acclaimed coffee grinders for coffee connoisseur and café or restaurant or office. While grind quality is identical to the flat burr grinders above, you purchase the convenience of a digital timer and the ability to quickly grind coffee. This allows you to set the particle size and then adjust the grind time in 0.1 second increments or even 0.05 seconds in some variants for accurate and repeatable dose and shot consistency.
$2001 upwards – Top End Commercial Professional
These are the top-of-the-line coffee grinders for the very serious coffee connoisseur and large café or restaurant or deli. These coffee grinders are generally conical burrs but it’s not a case of the same grind quality as the cheaper variety. These big, very fast coffee grinders run large burr sets and need big motors and powerful gearboxes to operate them. The burrs rotate more slowly than those of flat burr grinders. The grind quality improves again with exceptional coffee grinding ranges. Many can go from French Press to Turkish coffee.
At the highest range Compak produces the Deli series such as the Compak Deli R8, Compak Deli R80, Compak Deli R100, Compak Deli R120 and the 3 Phase Compak Deli R140. You will be grinding volume coffee at exceptionally quick rates and these burrs are capable of grinding many tonnes of coffee before you need to re-sharpen the burrs!
The next step is to contact us and visit our Ashburton showroom to view all our coffee grindersand we will showcase each coffee grinder to help you to make the right decision. With over 70 machines and grinders to view, we’ll guarantee that you’ll find the perfect coffee machine and coffee grinder.