Not all automatic espresso machines are created equal. As a Vancouver business owner turning out espressos in the land of milk and *coffee* – you probably know your way around a semi-automatic or fully automatic espresso machine – or perhaps you’re setting up the big-time for the first time. Either way, it’s good to know all the ins and outs. There are so many options out there these days – the technology keeps getting better and better. Just keep in mind the various logistics, such as NSF certification, plumbing requirements, as well as placement and location.
You might be considering your options and wondering whether you’d benefit more from a fully automatic or a semi-automatic espresso machine. Which is best for quality and control, and which is best for convenience? The truth is, they both have their advantages.
Semi-Automatic vs Fully Automatic – What’s the Difference?
Semi-automatic espresso machines have been around since the 1940s and remain the most widely used in the coffee industry today. This is because although they require more effort and brainpower (you will have to grind your own beans and steam/froth your own milk), semi-automatic espresso machines are simply the best with respect to brew control and precision. If you’re running a business built on artisanal quality espresso-based beverages, and your target customer is the espresso aficionado, you may want to go with old reliable. Semi-automatics offer much more customization than automatics, and as expected, require more barista skill. For this reason, many amateur and professional baristas prefer them.
You can probably guess the main difference when it comes to fully automatic machines. Generally, they are much more convenient and user-friendly, and less hands-on, making them a popular choice for businesses where coffee isn’t their main gig. You simply push a button and voila – espresso awaits. The main drawback is the lack of control that you’re able to achieve with a semi-automatic machine. Although, do keep in mind that unless you opt for a super automatic machine – which basically does it all – with an automatic espresso machine, you are still required to grind the beans and tamp the portafilter, so it’s not entirely hands-free.
With all that said, there are some incredibly high-quality automatic and super automatic machines on the market today – even those with expertly-trained espresso pallets may fail to recognize the difference. So if you’re still leaning towards something that requires less fuss, that doesn’t necessarily mean lesser quality.
Things To Consider
What are your requirements in terms of brewing capacity? What level of robustness would best suit your business needs? Will your machine be fitted into a professional kitchen? These are all things that would influence your decision.
Don’t forget that with any commercial espresso machine hooked up to your building plumbing, mineral deposits are your worst enemy – there’s no question that you will extend the life of that investment and see many benefits by implementing the use of a water softener.
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