Coffee Machine Buyers Guide
Sirius Coffee International is the authorised distributor of the Expobar, Fiamma, Iberital and La Marzocco coffee machines within Australia and S/E Asia. Sirius Coffee International 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. Sirius Coffee International 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.