Best Commercial Espresso Machine

Who doesn't love a perfect cup of espresso? It is one of the most popular beverages anywhere around the world.

In Italian Coffee Shops, you won't believe the number of espresso that are prepared on a daily basis.

And what makes customers coming returning is the quality of the espresso.

So if you are in the coffee business or planning to start up your own coffee shop, espresso is something you can't miss to offer to your clients. And to have them come back you need to serve the best you can. 

This starts with picking a commercial espresso machine that can live up with the expectation.

You could go for one of the most sought after commercial espresso machines, such as:

How to Choose the Best Commercial Espresso Machine

Go and ask any barista and they’ll tell you that making espresso is actually art.

Some may consider espresso as a simple wake-up shot, but there really is much more to it than that.

If you don't really want to break the bank, you can always go for one of the super automatic or semi-automatic machines.

But they are mostly home espresso machines and you won't really get anywhere close to a barista-made cup of espresso, especially if you are considering one of these machines to start up your coffee shop.

So first you need to define your exact needs. If the espresso is going to be a distinctive part of your business, then you need to be serious in your choice and that's why you're here.

The Financial Side and Stats

According to a study conducted by Zagat in 2015, 82% of coffee lovers in the US drink coffee on a daily basis.

Latte art is becoming more popular with every passing year, so people are willing to pay $5.07 on average for a cup of Joe prepared by a professional barista.

Roughly speaking, that means that investing in a commercial espresso machine for your coffee shop makes sense.

Needs and Volume

Choosing the best commercial espresso machine calls for a lot of research and decision making.

First of all, you need to decide whether it fits your cafe in terms of dimensions. Also, you need to carefully calculate whether you'll be able to make enough custom drinks on it to suit the volume and needs of your future customers.

Of course, budget is one of the most important variables in your calculations.

Keep in mind that every cafe has its peak hours.

This means that you won't have the same number of orders at all times. If you're planning on opening a fairly high-volume cafe, be prepared to dish out up to 250 orders and more in one single hour, which means four beverages per minute.

For that, you will need a very powerful machine, capable of keeping the water heated for more than one hour, and it needs to brew countless espressos for hours at times.

Also, it needs to be able to handle such tasks on a regular basis, for many months and years.

There are simple automatic espresso machines which can handle most needs, but you don't really have much control over the brewing processes, and that won't bring you that many customers.

We've gathered six semi-automatic commercial machines which need to be operated by trained baristas.

These provide you with the utmost control over all the processes involved. You can control the quality of the drinks, the water temperature, the pressure, and many others.

These are highly important as they offer you the possibility of creating custom drinks.

This is how you'll be able to create a cup of espresso that will keep your customers coming back for their daily shot of hot brew.

Before we delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of the six best commercial espresso machines we've gathered here, check out this video to give you an even better idea of what you're supposed to look for.


Let's start off with a pair of 2-group models – the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Volumetric and La Pavoni Bar-Star 2V-R.

2 Group Commercial Espresso Machines

Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Volumetric 2 Group

In case you didn’t know, Nuova Simonelli is one of the most famous espresso machine makers, with a very strong heritage.

It is an Italian company that started making sophisticated espresso machines back in 1936.

We’d also like to mention that their machines have won the Compass d’Oro for highly innovative designs and they’ve also won the World Barista Championship.

Once you’re aware of these facts, you can’t really expect anything but sheer perfection from Nuova Simonelli commercial espresso machines.

The 2-Group version from the Aurelia II Volumetric line of products is a magnificent piece of machinery that comes with a 3M water filter system, along with an espresso starter kit.

It’s a rather bulky piece of equipment that features a 14L boiler, so it can make a lot of shots continuously.

Another highly convenient feature is that it comes with a direct water connection, so you don’t have to refill it manually.

Let’s break it down into a simple list of pros and cons, so you can better understand its features and options.

PROS

  • Raised group heads: These are particularly handy for making drinks that require larger cups, such as lattes
  • Commercial steam wand: Unlike the Pannarello steam wand, this one is a rather hard one to master, but once you manage, it will reward you with amazingly rich milk froth. This is very important if you want to make other types of espresso-based beverages. Also, having two steam wands makes it possible to froth milk twice as fast.
  • Rotary vane pump: This is quite common in high-end espresso machines and it makes for a really quiet operation when compared to the cheaper ones equipped with vibratory pumps
  • Double heat exchanger: This means you don’t have to wait for the temperature adjustments between brewing coffee and steaming milk
  • Pressure gauge: If you want to make the perfect espresso, you simply need a pressure gauge in order to have the best control over the extraction quality.

CONS

  • Comes with only 2 group heads, so you can only prepare two beverages at the same time
  • Not very competitively priced
  • Its weight needs to be considered during transportation and installation

La Pavoni Bar-Star 2V-R

In case you hadn’t noticed, Italians are very passionate about everything, especially the visual appeal of things.

Their espresso machines are another great example of this.

Like some sort of race car, the Bar-Star 2V-R comes in bright red and simply commands your attention.

La Pavoni is a well-respected company that dates back to 1905 and takes great pride in producing top-of-the-line commercial espresso machines.

The first thing you’ll notice once you get over the color is its very appealing retro design.

This machine will look good no matter the interior style of your cafe.

Once again, let’s break it down to a few of the most important pros and cons.

PROS

  • Rustic styling: Can’t really imagine it not looking good in any interior space
  • Copper boiler: It comes equipped with a 14L boiler, so it doesn’t call for refills that often. Keep in mind that it can deliver somewhere around 600 beverages in a day, which isn’t a small feat
  • Simplicity: This espresso machine doesn’t come with a million little buttons. It only has a few paired with a digital control pad, so it’s really very user-friendly and easy to operate
  • Water softener: This is a feature any professional-grade espresso machine should have. If you want to make espresso the whole city talks about, you need softened water which doesn’t have any minerals
  • Programmable dosing: The Bar-Star 2V-R can store up to four different types of dosing. This means that you can eliminate dosing mistakes often made by humans and you can always deliver the exact same taste of your beverage
  • Smart engineering: The thermostat comes with a manual reset function and there is also the Auto Shut Off feature, so the risk of any unwanted accidents is pared down to the very minimum. The energy saving power switch is also a handy one as it can really save you quite a lot on your utility bills

CONS

  • Only comes with 2 group heads, so if you want to produce massive amounts of espressos per day, you may want to check the 3 or 4 group options we listed later in this article.
  • May take some time to clean on the inside due to the curvaceous design

3 Group Commercial Espresso Machines

So far, you’re probably wondering whether a 2-group machine is really the best commercial espresso machine.

Let’s step up the game and take a closer look at our 3-group contenders which can serve even more beverages due to an additional group.

La Pavoni Bar T 3L-B Lever Espresso Machine

Just like the previous gem from the Italian masters La Pavoni, this is an exquisite piece of coffee-making machinery.

The main difference is that it has 3 groups and so it can deliver 50 percent more beverages than our previous contender from the same manufacturer.

In order to understand why it’s included on our list of best commercial espresso machine reviews, we strongly suggest you take a quick peek at the list of pros and cons.

PROS

  • Traditional design: You simply won’t find an espresso machine that looks better than this. It will fit any cafe interior and you can also choose between red and black finish
  • Chromed brass groups: The groups are top-notch and they’re made using press-forged brass. Aside from the obvious superior shine, these groups provide the ultimate durability, strength and temperature stability
  • Hot water control: The Bar T 3L-B comes equipped with a device which makes it possible to keep the brewing pressure in all 3 groups at an exact same level. This is highly important for proper extraction of the coffee and temperature stability
  • Manual levers: Here we’re getting to the very essence of this espresso machine. The levers make it possible to have complete control of the process of extraction. If you want to serve the best espressos in your neighborhood, you’ll definitely need the manual levers on your espresso machine. The lever comes with a spring-loaded piston which helps you apply pressure in a very precise and controlled manner. Also, every lever returns to its original position automatically
  • 23-liter boiler: It’s a HUGE boiler, and it really doesn’t need to be refilled too often. The machine also features a boiler pressure gauge, so you can easily monitor and control the pressure
  • ​Water lever control: Speaking of water, the machine comes with an automated lever and it also features a sight glass, so you can monitor it easily
  • Safety reset thermostat: Considering the fact that this machine isn’t a small investment, it’s highly convenient that it features a safety reset thermostat which keeps it safe from overheating
  • Hot water tap: This is very handy if you want to make hot tea or other similar hot water-based beverages. Its spout is flexible for greater movement
  • Anti-vacuum valve: The valve is designed to prevent the steam wands from sucking the milk back in during the process of steaming
  • Energy saving: It’s a great thing that you can choose from four different power settings for saving energy. You won’t always have the highest number of customers in your cafe, so the machine can operate at lower power settings when there aren’t many of them to serve

CONS

  • As is the case with the previous beautifully designed commercial espresso machine from La Pavoni, due to its curvaceous shapes it can take time to clean on the inside
  • Keep in mind that delivery times may vary, and sometimes you’ll just need to be patient till your machine arrives

Nuova Simonelli Appia Volumetric 3

When compared to the magnificent visual appeal of the La Pavoni espresso machines, this one doesn’t look that promising – but don’t let that fool you.

Let’s take a brief look at its features by means of a good old pros and cons list.

PROS

  • Compact design: Even though it isn’t that beautiful to look at, it’s compact and can fit your cafe rather nicely without affecting the overall visual appeal.
  • Excellent espresso: This is what it’s all about, right? The quality of all espresso drinks brewed on this machine is at the pinnacle. Installing this espresso machine in your cafe will soon generate wondrous stories among your customers and bring you lots of new ones
  • Color options: You can choose between three different finishes - black, red, and silver.
  • Raised group heads: Handy for making beverages that require larger cups
  • Three different steam wands: 3 groups, 3 separate steam wands and another one just for hot water. How’s that for versatility?
  • Easy to clean: Every machine requires maintenance, and this one is really well designed when it comes to cleaning it. Remember, this isn’t really the case with the eye candy machines from La Pavoni
  • Even easier to use: If your barista has never used one of these, it shouldn’t worry you at all. It takes virtually no time to get a hold of all its functions as its super easy to use. On top of that, simplified controls eliminate the possibility of human error. You will always deliver the same espresso quality to your customers

CONS

  • Aside from the somewhat generic design, it’s really hard to pinpoint anything we didn’t like.

4 Group Commercial Espresso Machines

Have you found that 2-group and 3-group espresso machines simply won’t cut it?

That’s quite OK, you have big plans for your cafe and you need to make four beverages at once.

No problem at all, let’s take a quick look at some of the best 4-group espresso machines out there.

Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Digital 4

Are you ready to enter the world of digital controls for your espresso machine?

The best commercial espresso machine surely comes loaded with numerous breathtaking features, and digital controls are commonly among those.

Baristas everywhere around the world simply love these machines as they are made to provide customers with the ultimate beverages.

Let’s take a closer look at its features, once again using the list of pros and cons.

PROS

  • Display control: In any conditions and during any workload, this machine will provide you with the most accurate temperature control. The display makes it easy for a barista to control the water temperature of each group separately
  • Illumination: In terms of ergonomics, this is a tough one to beat. Its work surface is lit evenly and its back is angled perfectly so you can always see the espresso as it comes out of the portafilter. The steam wand comes with an LED lighting so even the milk in the pitcher gets illuminated
  • Versatility: You can adjust the temperature for each group separately, so it suits different blends of beverages. The group height can also be adjusted for all kinds of beverages
  • Soft Infusion System: This clever system is in charge of controlling pre-infusion that takes place at low pressure. This is important for pulling consistent espresso shots
  • Automatic Flushing: All groups come equipped with a fully automated system for flushing

CONS

  • Aside from the fact that it doesn’t really come cheap, we can’t find any flaws associated with this magnificent espresso machine.

La Pavoni Bar-Star 4V-B

Last but not least, let’s take a look at what La Pavoni has to offer in 4-group commercial espresso machines.

As you’ve probably noticed so far, their espresso machines simply look the best.

Aside from the wonderfully curved exterior design, you can’t help but notice the deep golden black finish.

Let’s take a closer look at some of its features by means of a pros and cons list.

PROS

  • Brass and chrome: All four groups are chrome-plated, and underneath all that chrome is premium quality press-forged brass
  • Large boiler: The machine comes with a 26.5-liter boiler. It also features a manual water discharge button
  • Anti-vacuum valve: This little gadget is in charge of preventing the steam wands from sucking the milk back in during the process of steaming
  • Automated controls: The water levels are controlled automatically and thanks to a sight glass you can monitor them visually
  • Independent thermal stability: Each group has a fully independent radiator hydraulic system
  • Reset safety thermostat: Comes with this cool safety feature, so your investment won’t be jeopardized by overheating issues

CONS

  • The only thing to note about the Bar-Star 4V-B is that its curvaceous lines can make it not easy when you want to clean the inside of the machine.

CONCLUSIONS

Ok, you’ve done your own research on commercial espresso machines, but now that you understand the fundamentals behind several cutting-edge products, it’s time to make the final decision.

You’ve also carefully calculated how many beverages you need to serve in your cafe on a regular daily basis.

The main question now is whether you need a 2-group, 3-group or 4-group espresso machine.

We believe that a 3-group machine will handle most situations, but if you really have big plans for your cafe, go for a 4-group espresso machine.

In light of this, our recommendation goes to the La Pavoni Bar T 3L-B as the machine which will well answer all your espresso - flavored clients.

It isn’t the most expensive out of the bunch, but it simply gets the job done the way it’s supposed to. Your espressos will be the talk of the town.

That being said, you can’t really go wrong with any of the machines featured here.