As a venue owner, coffee is one of the best attractions which you can invest in.
Tread carefully, however, since while a great cup of coffee can attract many a loyal customer, a mediocre cup can give your business a bad reputation which can be tough to shake.
The most important factor in developing a great cup of coffee is investing in a high-quality coffee machine.
With so many makes and models available, however, in can be a little overwhelming trying to make such a crucial decision without the right info. Is simply buying a very expensive machine enough to indicate how well it makes coffee, for example?
Accordingly we have come up with a cheat sheet for how to go about choosing the right coffee machine:
For starters, decide which type of coffee you want to offer. Whereas in most industries (beauty, construction, transportation, for example) you buy the machine first, and the service comes afterward, it is actually more like the other way around in the case of coffee: it’s more like you start with the service, or the type of coffee you want to offer, and then choose the machine based on that.
So you are going to have to decide what quality (and price range) of coffee is going to best suit your venue, i.e., will top end, middle range, or cheap coffee for the masses best fit your clientele? For example is your venue more of a busy commercial establishment knocking out hundreds of coffees every morning, or is it more of laid back, arty kind of place where fewer but higher-quality coffees will better fit your customer’s taste?
So what sort of clientele are you predicting? Those with discerning tastes and palettes, or something quick and cheap for the everyman? This is going to be the most crucial factor in beginning to choose a machine.
Find the right roaster
Once you’ve narrowed down what general type of coffee you want to produce, the next step is to choose a coffee roaster. Perhaps, being a coffee connoisseur, you will have made this choice already, but if you are a coffee newbie and don’t have a clue about different roasters, it’s best to take the time and to visit a variety of local roasters to get a better look at your options.
These roasters will also be able to offer advice about how to produce the the type of coffee you want to, about what kind of beans and machines will be able to best bring this about. These people are bound to be coffee experts and will be able to give you a lot of advice as well as general coffee education for those who are not already well versed in coffee lore.
The right combo of bean and machine
Variations in pressure, water, storage, grind, and the length of the pour will all significantly alter what a coffee, even given the same beans and machine – will taste like. In fact, there are as many as 25,000 flavour profiles for each blend of coffee. Accordingly, it is in the best interest of your roaster – as their name is involved in your enterprise as well – to make sure you are equipped with the right machine to bring out the best in their beans.
Think of it as finding the right marriage of bean and machine, as each blend is best suited to a different kind or brand of coffee machine. The roaster you choose will have their favorite machines, which they will of course recommend to you. And it is a good idea to heed their preferences, since they will then be able to give you very accurate advice on just how to grind and extract each blend for use with your specific machine.
Cost vs. value
Because you can get many recommendations from your local coffee roasters, you won’t need to jump blindly into the process of selecting the right machine. And while it is true that commercial coffee machines can be enormously expensive – even soaring up as high as $50,000 or more – the purpose of the machine should be what determines your decision more so than the price tag.
This is why it is important to focus on value rather than cost. Most roasters will be able to recommend you a wide range of machines with respect to quality, so you will have lots to choose from depending on your expected sales volumes.
That being said, does a more expensive machine necessarily produce a better coffee? No. There are plenty of ways for human error to muck up a cup of coffee no matter how high-end the machine. Moreover the most expensive machines are not always usually so because of features even related to the quality of the coffee, for example with below-counter machines.
Does the brand matter?
Yes, it definitely does. The roaster you choose will more than likely have selected an ideal brand or two for their beans after extensive testing, and will often feel confident that a particular brand of machine produces the best results.
Your roaster and the machine you choose should satisfy a few basic requirements. First of all, it is reasonable to expect some training for you as well as your staff in order to become familiar with the machine. Second, they should offer ongoing support for the duration of the machine’s life. Because there are bound to be a lot of hiccups along the way, you want to choose someone who will stick around to help you out of hairy situations.
Your roaster should work together with both you and the machine brand, supplying you with recipe books, updates about the best grinds or pours for their newest blends, and also be there to respond to any coffee or machine related issues you might be having.
Design, shape, size, colour.
Many business owners will be particularly concerned with how the appearance of their machine complements their venue. But how important, really, is the aesthetic aspect of the machine you end up choosing.
To be expected, your roaster will have already taken the aesthetic aspect into consideration when recommending coffee machines to you. Boutique roasters are more likely to recommend a machine that is more aesthetically appealing, making a statement in its own right in addition to whatever kind of coffee it produces, whereas a more commercial roaster, being more price oriented, will more likely recommend a machine that is reliable and sturdy instead of eye-catching.
Though not directly related to the coffee, it can still be important for you and your customers to enjoy the appearance of the machine. For one, even though most of the interior parts of the machine will need to be replaced within only 4 years, you will more than likely be stuck with the same exterior for the entire life of the machine.
Your chosen roaster should always be your go-to when choosing the best machine. It is in their interest just as much as yours to make sure you find the best machine to produce exceptional coffee. So first, take some time to contemplate the persona you want for your business, and accordingly what sort of cup it should offer. Once this has been decided finding a coffee roaster that you feel suits your needs will be the best method for helping the selection process along: from this point on, choosing the right coffee machine is easy!