tyler005 Senior Member Joined: 6 Jun 2012 Posts: 2 Location: California Expertise: Pro Barista
Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 8:14pm Subject: Looking for a Single Group Espresso Machine for Catering
My wife and I are looking into doing "coffee catering." We would like to buy an espresso machine to serve at farmers markets, wedding, ect. We have a lot of barista and catering experience but we need help deciding on an espresso machine, an area in which we are lacking knowledge.
So we need an espresso machine that can handle a few hours of constant use. I'm thinking a single group machine that can pull and shot and steam at the same time and run on 110v would be ideal. I'm also leaning towards a plumbed machine (I would think a pour over would cause issues when we had a line in front of us). Ideally the machine would have a water pump (although I would think adding an external one wouldn't be so bad), and a gage of some sort that would regulate how much water is in the machine, and then pump water when necessary. I'm thinking we would sometimes have to have a 5 gallon jug of water that would feed the machine with a hose.
I'm also unclear on water softeners. Do they usually fit inside the espresso machine?
Reliability and ease of maintenance is also a big factor, as is price. We really wouldn't want to spent over $1,500. We are thinking of going used so that we can spend much less than that, around $500 would be nice.
Any help is GREATLY APPRECIATED. We've been reading the forms here and have learned a lot.
frank828 Senior Member Joined: 23 Feb 2011 Posts: 581 Location: Los Angeles Expertise: Professional
Posted Thu Jun 7, 2012, 12:01am Subject: Re: Looking for a Single Group Espresso Machine for Catering
in that price range, i'm thinking an entry level prosumer HX like the Nuova Simonelli Oscar would be good. You can use a water jug with something like a flojet pump to feed the water. If you're using good water, you shouldnt need a separate water softener.
dont forget that the grinder will be more important than the espresso machine. is your budget for both grinder and espresso machine? if so, you can probably find a used oscar for around 600-700(new 1050) and something like a used mazzer super jolly for around 350-400(new 675) probably wanna get new burrs for about 40-50 more if you go used.
add in all the accessories you'd need and you should still be a good amount under 1500(for used).
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,042 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Jun 7, 2012, 4:59am Subject: Re: Looking for a Single Group Espresso Machine for Catering
I would look higher on the food chain than an Oscar for commercial service though any HX machine with autofill (nearly every one I know of) has the ability to be on for several hours at a time so that is not an issue. I have owned an Oscar and I did use it at a few parties but as it was pour over, it was a pain as you expect it would be. Oscar is a GREAT entry level HX machine for home use but the constant abuse a commercial environment provides, I think would take it's toll on Oscar in a fairly short time.
Which machine is very dependent on what you find on the used market. The grinder is more important than the machine and you are going to need a good one, preferably one that is commercial as your duty will be more intense than a home unit can handle on a prolonged basis.
You can do what you are asking on your budget if you keep your nose to the grind stone in your quest for used equipment but you will likely need to fix some issues with commercial gear in this price range (total budget $1500) at $500 you will only be able to buy a used commercial grinder such as the Super Jolly, for the most part. http://www.wholelattelove.com/Mazzer/superjolly.cfm though I would grind single dose or with a dark room timer to set the volume of the grind as a single dose rather than using the built in doser as the doser requires that you fill it with ground coffee and as ground coffee goes stale in about 15 minutes, your quality will be sub par using the doser unless you are REALLY busy, on a consistent basis.
There are equipment auctions I can tell you about but you are buying as is- where is, at an auction with no service or even any assurance that the equipment works.
You WILL need to use a pump such as the Surflow or Flowjet to move water to your machine, plumb in machines are designed to work with city pressure water though some can work OK with a water bottle at the same elevation as the machine (do you want a water jug on your work counter along with the machine?).
For private party sales, watch Craigs list, the Recycler, the Penny Saver, the local news paper etc. It will take some work to find the gear at your price but it can be done.
To the point of a water softener, you will be feeding from a bottle so you filter the water before you put it in the bottle, the softeners are NOT built into machines and all water filtering devices are external on a plumb in machine. In a pinch, you can buy drinking water from a supermarket. Do not use distilled or Reverse Osmosis water as it is too pure and it will 1) taste bad AND 2) it will cause the auto fill system to malfunction.
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Posted Thu Jun 7, 2012, 12:51pm Subject: Re: Looking for a Single Group Espresso Machine for Catering
I doubt you'll find anything that meets your needs for $500, but you might be able to squeeze in under $1500 with a used Rancilio "S" series machine and a used Rossi Grinder. Don't forget about the cost of the cart, pitchers, coolers for milk and ice (people do like their iced coffee in the summer) and something that provides shade if you're working outdoors.
Do your homework and take a look at the cost of setting up a cart operation, remembering that reliability, capacity and footprint are key factors in getting repeat business.
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