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The United Baristas Guide to Buying an Espresso Machine

With hundreds of espresso machines available, finding the right one can be a challenge. Follow these principles to get the right machine for your business.

Selecting your next espresso machine is tricky. It can be difficult to understand their features, know what’s hype, what’s on trend and what is necessary future proofing. Compounding the situation, it’s difficult to have a practical understanding of how baristas will use the machines in the hustle-and-bustle of service, how to get the best price, and what the ongoing service and maintenance requirements are.

The United Baristas guide to buying an espresso machine draws together firsthand experience, tips from the coffee shops getting it right, and insights from across the coffee industry. Use the guide to work out what’s important to you, and your business, so you can set up your coffee programme for success.

Getting the price right

Understand the supply chain

Let’s cut to the chase. Cost is a critical factor, and one that most equipment sales people don’t like to talk about. But getting the right machine at the right price is key for business success.  

If you are buying an espresso machine for use in a shop, café, restaurant, or bar, you are mostly likely to purchase this machine from a ‘reseller’. Resellers may be a roaster, engineer, or equipment business, that typically acts as a sales agent for a brands’ distributor in your country. 

When you order an espresso machine, the item is typically shipped from the distributor or manufacturer’s warehouse. Obvious exceptions include bespoke machines, which are made to order. 

The price that you pay will depend on the:

  • Total number of items being purchase 
  • Your relationship with the reseller 
  • The type of reseller 
  • Negotiation

For example, if you are purchasing from a coffee roaster the price might include advice on opening your coffee shop and barista training. Or if you purchase the item from an engineer, there might be service contact options.

As each brand has a distinct sales and distribution strategy, comparing packages for similar models from competing brands can be like comparing apples with pears – tricky but not impossible. 

To make this process manageable, we recommend identifying a shortlist of two or three espresso machines that meet your needs and reaching out to a range of resellers to best understand the specific options available for your desired items.

Many resellers have identified common packages of equipment and services to enable them to quote rapidly and easily. An advantage of identifying equipment ideal for your needs in advance of requesting a quotation is that you have opportunity to sense-check whether the proposed packages are suitable for your business.  

Consider the total package 

Once you have identified the items suitable for your coffee business, remember to consider the total package. If the package normally comes with training, support or services that you do not require, or will source from elsewhere, make sure you get a bespoke quote that reflects this. 

Conversely, you will never be in a stronger position to negotiate the package options, such as training, support, service contracts, and your coffee price, as when you are ordering your equipment. 

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