How do you select the correct automatic coffee machine?

Buying a coffee machine is a big investment and deciding which machine to select can be quite a daunting task.

The number of brands available is overwhelming, the price differences can be quite big and in the end it can be very confusing.

What factors should you consider when making a selection.

1. Where will the machine be used?

    • Is the machine for home, office or for use in a restaurant?
    • If the machine will be used in an office or restaurant environment it is a good idea to get advice from a retailer that has experience in this type of application. 
    • Selecting the wrong machine for commercial applications can be a very costly excercise.

2. How many cups will you be making per day? -

    • Automatic Coffee machines are designed for specific volumes. The quality and durability of components as well as the water tank size, bean hopper size and waste basket size are all items that should be adapted based on the daily cup usage of the machine.
    • Selecting a machine that that is bigger than necessary is a waste of money.
    • Selecting a machine which is too small will result in having to refill and clean machine continuously and in the longer term unnecessary breakdowns.
    • Some Chinese brands (and perhaps others) overstate the capacity of their machines. In this case if a machine at a similar price to competitors claims to have a much larger capacity it is probably a classic case of exaggeration. 

3. After sales service and long term parts availability.

    • Ask the retailer who will be servicing and repairing the machine when required.
    • Some brands are represented in South-Africa by local importers that do not have proper servicing departments and trained technical staff. They rely on third party service outlets to repair the machines. Automatic coffee machines are complex pieces of equipment and require specialised servicing staff.
    • Parts availability is very important.Ask your retailer for how long after a models is discontinued will parts be available. You don't want your expensive coffee machine to break down in a year or two only to find out there are no spares available.
    • Also ask the retailer what is the typical turn around time for repairs. Some of the major retailers take six weeks to process repairs!
    • Coffee machines sourced from China are notorious for poor parts availability and hence poor after sales service.

4. When you spend a large amount of money on something like a coffee machine you would like to know that you are buying the best product for your money, right?

    • Most coffee machine brands are made by big brands that manufacture a myriad of different products from washing machines, irons, power tools, dishwashers and all sorts of non-coffee items.
    • We would recommend buying a specialist brand from a company that makes nothing but coffee machines. It makes sense that if your company's existence depends on how you make coffee machines chances are that you are more specialised in that product than your competitors. Specialisation in most fields, normally has a better result than a generalised approach. 
    • Enquire about the warranty period on the brand. Most coffee machines, like other electrical appliances only have a 12 month warranty. There are however brands that give longer warranties.
    • A good indicator of the longevity of a brand and its products would be the age of the company. The best European brands have been around for many decades.

5. You would probably not buy a car without test driving it, why buy a coffee machine if you have not seen how it works and tasted the product?

    • Ask your retailer for a demonstration of the machine. Let them show you how to reprogram and maintain the machine and assess how easy it will be for you to do this.
    • Taste the coffee
    • Assess the milk foam quality - Is it nice and silky or does it have nasty big bubbles!
    • How noisy is the machine? Consider where it will be located in your house and if the noise level will be disturbing.

6. What technical assistance will be available if you run into a problem setting up the machine or if you are unsure about something?

    • Ask the retailer if they have a customer support person that knows the product and that can provide telephonic assistance.
    • Ask the retailer if they will come and setup the machine at your home or office. Quality retailers will provide this service free of charge.

If you are still unsure about anything please feel free to contact us.

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