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Commercial Buying Guide

A good espresso machine and grinder will set you apart from your competition and will contribute hugely to the profitability of your business; it’s the centre piece of what you do.  Regardless of the skill of the barista, poor quality, outdated equipment has a detrimental effect on the flavour of your coffee and your reputation. There’s a huge amount of choice. We can help you choose the right equipment.

Machine Size - Big Decisions

If you’re already operating this is an easy question to answer; How much coffee will you sell per day? For new businesses this is can only be
determined by an educated forecast — we can help you with this.


The size of a Commercial Coffee Machine is described by how many group heads it has.  Manufacturers produce machines ranging from 1 to 4 group heads.  However a manufacturer may choose to produce a model with only 2 and 3 group variants (these being the most popular options).  


  • 1 Group Espresso Machines.  If space is particularly tight a 1 group machine maybe the only option.  Obviously a 1 group has big limitations to cope with busy times and offers no growing room for your business.  We don't sell many single group machines for that reason.  The resale value of 1 group machines are commonly low, even for clean examples.

  • 2 Group COMPACT Espresso Machines.  I'd advise (space permitting) buying a 2 group compact over a 1 group espresso machine.  A 2 group compact is not that much bigger but it gives you great capacity when you need it improving speed of service and has a better resale potential.  

  • 2 Group Espresso Machines.  A two group machine is by far the most popular option because they can cope with the demands of the majority of service environments.  The 2 group offers growing space for smaller environments and so add reassurance that you won't out grow the equipment too quickly.  

  • 3 Group Espresso Machines.  In our experience 80% of three group machines we sell are to existing businesses who have upgraded from a 2 group machine following a period of growth as the business matures.  On the other hand 20% of 3 group machines we sell are to new sites that are large (65+ seats) and make the decision to go with a 3 group to avoid having to upgrade.

  • 4 Group Espresso Machines.  Rare, we've never sold one.  I would suggest a site should purchase two 2 Group machines instead.  Resale on 4 group machines is difficult - they are not in demand.

Here are some size related tips!

  • 1 Group machines - if you can get a 2 group compact.

  • If you need a 4 group machine - get 2x 2 group machines.


  • You'll need to plan in a separate hot water boiler - don't plan on the espresso machine being your only source of hot water from your teapots.  Espresso machines are not designed to be a consistent and plenty full source of hot water.  So you should plan in a water boiler within your space.

Grinder Choices

Choosing a grinder is as important as choosing the Espresso Machine. Sub standard or inadequate grinders make poor espressos regardless of the Baristas skill level.  Here's the lowdown on grinders:

  • There are two distinct families of grinders; On-Demand and Manual Dose.  

  • On-Demand Grinders grind the beans on a programmable timed basis so an accurate dose of coffee is ground per espresso every time. This ensures consistency in terms of the volume of beans that are ground per shot (very important) and quality of taste as beans are only ever ground when a customer places and order (also very important).

  • Manual Dose Grinders grind beans into a dispenser on the front of the unit. A rotational lever has to be pulled to dispense grounds into your portafilter. Whilst fast to use these grinders are less accurate in terms of dosing volume, as you need to guess how much ground coffee to dispense.  In addition, it is virtually impossible to grind the correct volume of coffee for the shot you are about to prepare - you are forced to grind more than you need leaving ground coffee to loose it's peak of flavour and aroma.  Therefore quality is compromised.  

  • Burr Types: Flat vs Conical . All commercial grinders are burr grinders.  There are two types flat burrs and conical burrs, both have pro's and con's:

  • Flat burrs use centrifugal force to force the beans towards the burr teeth. You can simply adjust the grind settings by moving the disks closer together (for finer grounds) or further apart (for coarser grounds). Flat burrs are generally cheaper than Conical Burrs, however conical burrs offer greater precision because they can be adjusted by degrees.  Conical burrs, in our experience last longer than flat burrs, so yes there are more to buy but will grind more before replacing is required.  All grinding burrs will need to replaced at some point, regardless of grinder type and price point.  The important point for comparison centres on which makes a better cup of coffee and to be honest there isn't much difference.

  • When to change your Grinding Burrs?  This depends on the material the blades are made from.  Steel blades generally require changing annually (for the average coffee shop consuming 9kg of coffee per week).  The cost of replacement blades is typically £40-60.  If you have titanium blades they will last 3-4 times longer that steel but will cost £140-170 to replace.  I can't emphasise how important it is to change the blades on your grinder, dull blades affect the consistency of your espresso. 

  • Buy the best grinder you can possibly afford, even if that means lowering your spend on your espresso machine choice.  Go for an on demand grinder too, you won't regret it.

La Marzocco Espresso Machines

  • The Bambi brothers manufactured their first coffee machine "Fiorenza" by special commission, after this the brothers began manufacturing in 1927 creating hand-crafted espresso machines, and named them after the "Marzocco" – Florence's symbol of victory and conquest.

  • Coffee consumption in Italy started to rocket and La Marzocco in tune with this introduced technological innovations and began to cement themselves as global innovators.

  • As far back as the late 1930's, La Marzocco patented the first horizontal boiler machine, which, compared to the conventional vertical boiler  allowed engineers to arrange the brew groups in a horizontally too.  This was more efficient for the barista and allowed them to chat  with customers.

  • In 1990, Piero Bambi designed his first machine, the "Linea Classic", which proved to be very technician-friendly and loved by quality led coffee businesses worldwide.

  • In 1997, the FB/70 coffee machine (FB for Fratelli Bambi) is launched to celebrate La Marzocco's 70th anniversary.

  • In 2005, the GB/5 machine (named after Piero's wife, Giovanna Bambi) is introduced, equipped with a CPU board and improved thermo-stability in light of the introduction of "PID" technology.

  • The FB/80 was manufactured for the 2006 World Barista Championship in Bern to mark the company's 80th anniversary.

  • The Strada EE (semi-automatic) is introduced in January 2014.

  • In 2013, the Linea PB, named after the machine's designer Piero Bambi model is introduced at the Boston SCAA conference. The Linea PB re-engineers the Linea Classic. 

  • The Strada AV prototype is introduced in 2015 and launched in 2016.

  • In 2019, the KB90 is launch with it's unique straight in portafilter loading innovation.

La Spaziale Espresso Machines

  • La Spaziale have long been established in the UK.  The popularity of La Spaziale ​is due to their strong build quality and mid range price level.  Couple this with plentiful, reasonably priced spare parts and aftersales technical support and it's easy to understand why la Spaziale are so popular.

  • The range kicks off with the S2, a no-nonsense traditional espresso machine available from 1 group to 4 groups.

  • Next up the S5 is probably the best selling machine in the UK (that's a guess - but I'd be surprised if it wasn't).  Like all La Spaziale's the S5 is hugely reliable is good value.  The 2 group compact version is a great machine and deserves special mention.

  • Then we have the S9 with a more refined look and functionality.

CONTI Espresso Machines

  • Tucked away in the heart of Monaco, CONTI has been creating coffee machines since 1957.  Today CONTI are a growing presence in UK coffee shops and it's easy to understand why.  Their entry level machines offer fantastic value for money and at the top end they have a fabulous machine in the Monte Carlo. 

  • Starting with the CC100 features exceptional build quality, consistent espresso extraction, compact size and incredible value for money. Available in numerous colours and configurations from small and compact 1 group through to a 3 grp for higher volume location.

  • Next the X-ONE has been designed for the aspiring barista and high volume operator.  It's been built upon the features pioneered within the CC100 model by incorporating advanced electronics, the X-ONE allows the user to monitor coffee quality, machine performance and provides audit trails to help keep any business in touch with their sales.

  • Sharing the same chassis and design basis as the X-ONE, the TCI model incorporates a unique temperature control system to allow the barista to easily adjust boiler & coffee water temperature replicating the ideals achieved within a multi boiler machine. The ideal machine for a high volume environment that refuses to compromise on quality.

  • The Monte Carlo, the Multi boiler flagship, incorporates years of design and research into one beautifully designed espresso machine. We started with individual coffee group boilers, we have taken temperature stability to the next level by pre-heating the coffee boiler water feed and also inserting a PID controlled heating cartridge within the group itself to perfectly 'polish' our coffee temperature.

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