What is the best commercial espresso machine? If you’re reading this you are most likely looking to set up a café or need to replace your existing coffee and espresso units. I’ve worked in coffee shops for a number of years and have tried various commercial espresso machines (or commercial coffee makers) in my time. In this post I’ve written reviews for all of the machines I have tried and concluded with the best commercial espresso machine (hint: you don’t need to spend $15,000 to get a great machine!)
I’ll be looking at three of the big Italian contenders that any coffee shop would be proud of and a semi-commercial contender that a small café might consider as an alternative to a full-on commercial espresso machine. So where shall I start with the commercial espresso machine reviews? Let’s start the search for the best commercial espresso machine with the big daddy of the Italian manufacturers… La Pavoni…
La Pavoni BAR-STAR 2V-R Review
La Pavoni is a leading Italian espresso machine manufacturer and this machine is their 2 group espresso maker in startling red, sure to catch the attention of your customers not just for the color but for the espresso you can make with it!
- 2 group machine with digital control pad
- Fully programmable
- 14 liter copper boiler with auto shut off
- 2 steam wands and built in cup warmer
What Makes It Different?
La Pavoni isn’t just a leading Italian espresso machine maker in Italy! They’re world renowned and have a bit reputation over in Europe, and this is, in my opinion, one of the best NSF/CSA-certified 2 group espresso machines available. A digital control pad and microprocessor controls 4 dosing settings, thermal stability ensures consistent temperature of each group. Also the machines 14 litre copper boiler is THE biggest (for its class) in the espresso machine industry!
There’s one main drawback to any multiple group machine… If the boiler goes or the electronics pack up then the whole machine goes down, which means you won’t be able to serve your customers until it’s fixed. Having said that, La Pavoni make this machine, so as long as it is well maintained and serviced correctly it shouldn’t really give you many problems.
If you’re looking for a truly authentic, head turning machine then look no further than the La Pavoni Bar-Star 2-VR. A great machine and a competitive price make this a good all-rounder and its Italian build and heritage make it a truly authentic espresso machine. Just be sure to take out an extended warranty and service the machine correctly if you are worried about a rare mechanical failure.
Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Review
Want a machine with a decent pedigree? The Aurelia II was the 2012-2014 World Barista Championship official espresso machine. How’s that for pedigree? This machine is a work of art and boasts features you might dream of. But is it the best commercial espresso machine?
- 3 group machine made of stainless steal
- Fully programmable digital machine
- Individually adjustable and real-time water supply to each group
What Makes It Different?
The Aurelia II was the 2012-2014 World Barista Championship official espresso machine. Partly because the Aurelia II grants an unprecedented degree of temperature control, regardless of any mitigating factors such as simultaneous usage of the groups. This is one of the best features of this machine, in that the temperature of the water supplied to each group can be controlled individually and in real time. The work surface is well illuminated, while LED lighting by the steam wands are capable of illuminating the interior of the milk jug.
It’s a bit of a complex beast of a machine, certainly not one for the fainthearted or trainee baristas to be let loose on. Also like the La Pavoni, there would always be the concern that should any internals fail, the whole machine might go down leading to lack of service to customers. However, like the Bar-Star 2-VR the Aurelia II didn’t forge a reputation great enough to be the WBC official espresso machine on the basis of breaking down, quite the opposite!
This machine is possibly too brilliant for its own good, some of the features would attract highly specialised attention and I cannot see it being required in many cafés. Whilst its 4 group attributes make it a useful machine, I question the value in fully independent adjustable water supply temperature for the average coffee shop.
Vibiemme DS1GMA2BSWIN Review
So we’ve seen that the downside of a multi-group machine is that if it goes down, you might kiss your customers goodbye until it is fixed. So how about a sensible commercial alternative? In steps the Vibiemme DS1GMA2SWIN.
- 1.8-liter copper boiler
- Can be connected to mains water or left as a stand-alone machine
- Professional brass portafilters
- Faema E61 grouphead (heaviest in its class)
What Makes It Different?
Commercial espresso machine reviews don’t come easier than this.. What makes the Vibiemme different? Flexibility, flexibility and flexibility! That’s what these machines are all about, stack them side by side in any quantity of groups you need, add an extra machine when you need one, and benefit from being able to continue serving customers even if one of the groups goes down.
On a per group basis it isn’t the cheapest of options, but what it does give you is flexibility. You can start with even just one machine and build up as your customer base grows, and once you get to two or three machines, then even if one machine goes down, you will still be able to keep serving your customers.
The Vibiemme DS1GMA2BSWIN is possibly the best commercial espresso machine I have looked at for this comparison article. It offers flexibility and continuity of service, ensuring that if it ever did break down, remember you still need to properly service all of these machines, then it wouldn’t bring down all of your groups. That means that you can keep your customers happily served and not lose out on takings.
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Review
Now to look at the small café alternative, this Breville commercial espresso machine, the BES870XL Barista Express, is the best commercial espresso machine with grinder. This isn’t quite as commercial as the others, but with it being a super automatic machine (i.e. with in-built coffee bean grinder) it take the hassle out of things for the small café or restaurant.
- 15 Bar pump super automatic espresso machine
- 2-liter removable water tank
- ½ lb bean hopper
- 1600W boiler
What Makes It Different?
Compared to the others this machine is by far the easiest and simplest to use because it is the best commercial espresso maker fully automatic, which means it does pretty much all of the work for you. Also like the Vibiemme it is a single unit, so two or more machines will ensure continuity of service if one goes down. Also it is by far the cheapest option out of all the machines I have reviewed in this article.
A super automatic machine might not be as impressive to customers as a proper commercial espresso machine. However for a small café of restaurant setting it may be just the machine you need to serve better quality coffee to your customers. If it is your only machine though then I would suggest the heavier duty Vibiemme, as although it is more pricey, one might be inclined to question the reliability of the Breville, which to all intents and purposes is a smart home or office machine, under the stresses and strains of constant use.
Certainly a good all-rounder but question marks remain over its reliability under a coffee shop or restaurant workload. There are certainly better machines in this review, but at the price (you could have almost 5 of these for a Vibiemme) it is hard to complain about this machine. The question remains though: would you neccesarily want to buy a machine that might result in a lack of ability to serve customers coffee?
Cecilware Venezia II ESP3-220V Review
The Cecilware Venezia II ESP3-220V 3 Group Espresso Machine is the ideal machine for low volume environments. With its LED display, touch pad controls, exclusive microprocessor technology and auto cleaning function; this machine is child’s play to use.
This espresso machine has a heavy duty 260W motor, 19 quart stainless steel dual boiler with hot water dispense valve which can produce 720 cups per hour. This alone is enough to keep your most impatient customers happy.
One can choose between its fully automatic dispense system for 1,2, or 3 cups at a time, or use the manual continuous flow option.
- Fully automatic for single or double espresso, or continues flow function
- Touch pad controls
- Exclusive microprocessor technology
- Auto-cleaning function flushes line to the brew head
- LED Display
- Dual Pressure Gauge display readouts for the dispensing water pressure & boiler steam pressure
- Sight glass to monitor water tank level instantly
- 260W heavy duty motor
- Stainless steel dual boiler with hot water dispensing valve
- Requires water hookup
- Requires 240v/6.5KW/27A electrical connection and is ETL and NSF listed
- Dimensions: 37 7/8″W x 21 9/16″D x 21 1/2″H.
- Ship Weight: 185 lbs
- Standard 2 year manufacturer’s warranty on parts & labor unless otherwise specified.
- In line filter (not included) must be installed for the warranty to be in effect.
This unit is a must for any commercial kitchen. Your kitchen and staff will be at a loss without it.
Strong Classic Lever 2 Group Espresso Machine Review
The Strong Classic Lever 2 Group Espresso Machine is handmade and not mass produced. It boasts with 2 solid Italian walnut handles and coffee group handles. The 14 liter stainless steel boiler and polished chrome heads and valves will satisfy the busiest coffee shop. Using the finest Italian components and workmanship this machine was designed with high volume and low maintenance in mind.
The machine itself is easy to use and your staff will have no problem producing consistent espressos, every time. This alone will keep your customers coming back for more of that memorable feeling every cup produce.
- Traditional lever 2 group espresso
- Handmade steam handles and coffee group handles
- 14 Liter stainless steel boiler body panels and polished chrome heads and valves
- LED light cup illumination and rear LED light panel to give a modern touch
- Hand stitched Italian leather-wrapped lever pull handles
- Dimensions: 30”W x 20”D x 20”H
- Weight: 190 lbs
- Propane and natural gas versions available at an additional cost
If it is that nostalgic feeling of time honored traditional hand pulled method combined with durability and quality you’re after, this machine is definitely the one for you.
The Best Commercial Espresso Machine 2020?
The Breville is fine for a small café, but as mentioned I would question reliability under constant use. The La Pavoni is a solidly built machine, as is the Aurellia II which has a pedigree to suggest it is more than a match for even the busiest of coffee bars. But for my money the best commercial espresso machine has to be the Vibiemme DS1GMA2BSWIN, it’s got the pedigree to be reliable, the flexibility to be expandable, and its single unit make up means you will not see customers leaving if one of your units (as long as you have more than one) goes down. The best place to buy it is Amazon (I would recommend the 3-year protection plan, too).