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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Help!  
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obmcccafe
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Apr 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Ohio
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 1:02pm
Subject: Help!
 

Hello, my church is fairly large and operates a cafe where we sell coffee and espresso. I technically oversee the operations of it, but know nothing about espresso or machines. There was someone who was knowledgeable who headed it up but due to circumstances had to step down. Anyways, we have a Strong primary 2 group machine at the moment, but are having issues and are looking into buying another machine. I've looked at a lot of replacement machines thus far and am not sure what would be best to buy. My budget is around $5,000 and I was wondering if I could get some suggestions with that price point what the best buy would be? Would it be worth getting 2 1 group machines instead of a 2 group machine?
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 1:35pm
Subject: Re: Help!
 

Dear Obmccafe,
Let me recap:
You have an espresso machine but you lost your (for the want of a better word) barista.
You, yourself, are no barista and you have no other barista.
Let me ask questions:
What are the issues?  To continue or to fold?  Or is the machine having issues?  Is that why you want to replace it?
I am not impressed by the Strong website, which seems not to work correctly.
How long have you had your machine?  Who has been servicing your machine?  How much coffee and espresso do you sell when you are open?
Are you open only on weekends and meeting nights, or only on Sunday?

Just off the top of my head:
If you want to continue the cafe, you are going to have to train or find someone with barista skills.
It is usually much cheaper to repair a machine than to buy a new one.  Cheaper still if a volunteer will drive it to a repair shop in the church van rather than ship it.
Two one group machines will do the work of one two group machine but will cost you 50%-75% more.
If the person who stepped down is on speaking terms with you, they might give you the best advice about the capabilities of the machine and whether or not it can continue to be used or should be replaced, and with what.
There is a lot more you ought to tell us if we are to help you.

While your cafe and previous operator were going strong was the set-up, including the machine, sufficient to supply the volume of coffee necessary in a timely manner (ie, no long lines)?

Since you have a machine, my first reaction is to get it working.  In my opinion, but I am not experienced, a machine that sits around for a period of time very slowly moves toward being a pile of junk.  This is entirely reversible and doing preventative maintenance on it now may be less costly than doing PM in the future.

Once the machine is working, you might canvass the congregation for volunteers to operate it.  A church may be able to ask local coffee shop owners to volunteer a little time to train a few willing volunteers.  People like to show off their skills.  Look at me: I am 'showing off' now and I don't even have any skills.

Once the machine is being operated, the operator may suggest if a different machine is necessary.  If it is a reliability issue, a second machine, perhaps smaller may get you over the rough spots.

Answering some of these questions will help the next person to respond to your post.

Buckley

Note to moderator: can we start a 'Church Coffee Service' subheading in this forum?  Just kidding.  We seem to get a lot of these.  We will try to help, with the proper info.
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chex
Senior Member
chex
Joined: 27 Mar 2008
Posts: 68
Location: Fairview TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Q M Silvano, Gaggia Espresso
Grinder: 2xMazzer SJs, Major, WW2 era...
Drip: Hario pourover, presses,...
Roaster: Behmor, stovetop...
Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 2:11pm
Subject: Re
 

What problems is your current machine having? Many common problems are associated with maintenance issues. How often is your machine descalled and backflushed? Are associated shower screens, gaskets, etc. inspected on a weekly basis? Instead of just buying a new machine, that might be a better place to start. I'm a hobbist myself, but I was able to buy a less than a year old Mazzer super jolly grinder for $200! Basically the cafe owner had no idea what was wrong with it, assumed it was broken, and wanted it out of their place. Upon inspecting, it became clear the barista or someone washed the hopper, replaced it on the collar when wet, tried to remove the adjustment ring but screwed it in further to seize the burrs and jam the collar since it was almost glued on. After 10 minutes of work i had a brand new grinder.  Even if you spend $5000 on a new machine, in a couple months of use it could turn into a lemon without proper care.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Wed Apr 9, 2014, 6:42am
Subject: Re: Help!
 

Hi and welcome to the board.

We indeed have seen several similar posts.

If you want to buy a machine by all means do so but it may be a simple issue to resolve with the old machine. I bought a used (very well used and abused) machine from a school that was run by a church. The machine was sold for parts as it was leaking badly. It truly was ugly and had a hard life and was replaced. I took the top off, looked at it while it was heating up, saw that the vacuum breaker valve was stuck. As the machine was building pressure, or attempting to as the valve was open, I gave the stem of the valve a few good twists, this cleared the crud that was causing it to stay open and it sealed. The machine has been working for me now for 3 years without an issue, it cost me nothing to repair it other than a few minutes of time. It did suffer from a severe lack of being maintained and that is all on the last operator.

The point is you may have a small problem or it may be a big one but you need someone to take a look at what the problem is. If you tell us what you do know, we may be able to point you in the right direction. You WILL need someone who knows how to run the machine and how to make coffee,  a barista, (or coffee bartender).

 
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!
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obmcccafe
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Apr 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Ohio
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Apr 9, 2014, 10:13am
Subject: Re: Help!
 

Thanks for the responses, to answer a few questions:
We have people who know how to operate and run the machine and are pretty experienced, also I am in talking terms to the "barista" who once oversaw everything its just she is very busy now and has wanted to seperate herself from making decisions, being involved with operations, etc.
We sell a lot in my eyes, I'm not sure exact numbers but I do know that with a one group we are not able to keep up fast enough. And we are open twice a week, with sometimes being more than that.

Now about the machine: One side of the machine had stopped working completely and we had a guy who had done maintenance and work on it prior to come look at it. He was in contact with the company of the machine and it turned out the company was not 100% definite as to what had caused the issue and suggested trying something that could possibly fix it or possibly not help at all which wouldve costed over $1,200. So we decided not to go that route and have been using the one side for the last few months with the intention of looking to buy another machine in the future. Now we are having issues where the side that was working as normal is now running water non stop since yesterday and we are in need of a solution.
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chex
Senior Member
chex
Joined: 27 Mar 2008
Posts: 68
Location: Fairview TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Q M Silvano, Gaggia Espresso
Grinder: 2xMazzer SJs, Major, WW2 era...
Drip: Hario pourover, presses,...
Roaster: Behmor, stovetop...
Posted Wed Apr 9, 2014, 1:46pm
Subject: Re: Help!
 

Wayne has a valid point. Baristas should have an end of day regiment of backflushing /descaling the machine. The extreme volume used is much harder than home use, even then i try to bachflush every other day or so for my home machine. Even with maintenance, gaskets do dry out and will need to be replaced. If a repair tech just tells you its going to be over $1200 to possibly "fix" the machine I would be curious to what exactly is wrong before spending the cash. It still may just be a bad valve for the leak and maybe a clogged screen for the other group. However, if you decide to purchase a new machine, look into the maintenance aspects required and be certain your baristas are following the procedures.

Any ideas Wayne?
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Wed Apr 9, 2014, 2:18pm
Subject: Re: Help!
 

Constant running could be one of several things. Starting with the least expensive,

The valve has scale lodged in it and it needs to be cleaned. As the machine is connected to city water pressure, it can be possible that there is pressure to the 3 way valve and that the pump is not needed for the valve to see pressure. This can happen when the machine has not had proper servicing. If it is scale, a full descale should be done also.

The valve has failed and needs to be replaced.

The vend button has failed and the control panel needs to be replaced or if you are very lucky, serviced. If this were the issue, I would expect the pump to be running too as if the button failed in the on position the machine "thinks" it needs to vend constantly.

The computer has failed, scrap the machine as a replacement board is VERY expensive and you are having other issues anyway.

The group that has failed could be a wire bundle, control panel, 3 way valve or computer issues, much the same kind of problems you are having on the other group.

When looking for a replacement machine, much more important than who made it is who will service it. We advise anyone looking for a commercial service duty machine to buy from a local vendor who services what they sell. When you get to multi group commercial machines, for the most part, they are all built like tanks.

It sounds like you do have a service company so see what they can offer you for your machine (likely for parts) and see what they have to fill your needs. They should work with you on a solid machine. The best value comes with used equipment but if you would rather buy new that is fine too. A lot of people want the warranty and the good feeling that comes with new. It truly is a personal decision with no right or wrong way.

From a ease of use standpoint, IE, no or little training or barista skills, a Double Boiler machine will produce constant temps with minimal user skill.

A HX will require a more skilled operator but the drinks produced will be the same quality. Neither machine is better or worse than the other, just different for different needs. The vast bulk of installed commercial machines is HX, DB machines are starting to be seen more frequently but they are very much more expensive.

A good water filtration system should be in place as well as a scheduled servicing plan to prevent unwanted and unexpected break downs.

 
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!
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marosmith
Senior Member
marosmith
Joined: 15 Dec 2013
Posts: 86
Location: Lafayette, Oregon
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: NS Oscar, Silvia V2
Grinder: NS MCF, Baratza Encore
Posted Wed Apr 9, 2014, 8:40pm
Subject: Re: Help!
 

I was in almost the exact same situation with our church.

I got a used Aurelia machine for $2,000 with a grinder, and had it maintainanced and installed. The older machine we had needed a host of repairs and parts were difficult to come by.

If you can find a good deal on a used machine and have a local guy who can set it up that may be a good deal. You will have to do some shopping and research. Get a machine that is common where parts are easy to come by.

Paying $1200 to maybe fix something in my opinion is absurd.

Be careful around here. It's a very uppity bunch here and they assume most people are pretty dumb.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Apr 10, 2014, 7:03am
Subject: Re: Help!
 

marosmith Said:



Be careful around here. It's a very uppity bunch here and they assume most people are pretty dumb.

Posted April 9, 2014 link

This is an intresting comment.

I took the time to re read EVERY post and every thread you have made and in full context with the threads they were in. EVERY TIME, it was you that started with the snarkey comments that elisited comments back to you, much the same as you have done with this comment in this thread.

You have recived a LOT of good advice and help yet you disregarded a lot of it.

You made a lot of comments that showed just how little you do know and that was the reason you got a lot of advice that you seem to not want. IDK..... YMMV!

 
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!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,218
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Apr 10, 2014, 8:54am
Subject: Re: Help!
 

Used machines are as you find them.  If you have a preferred tech, check and make sure that the machines which interest you are on his (or her) list.

If you're considering a new machine, there aren't a lot of quality 2 groups under $5K.  A few machines to think about are the Astoria Perla, Faema Enova, La Cimbali M24, La Spaziale S5, and the  Nuova Simonelli Appia.  

A La Marzocco Linea would be very nice, but would require significant budget stretch.

Rich
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