Affordable Espresso Machine to Train On

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by Timro71 »

Eventually my daughter and I want to open a small cafe.

Any suggestions on a good home espresso machine that we could use to train on for the real thing?



#2: Post by dreadnatty08 »

Welcome! What's your budget?
This is a tricky question as answers can be all over the place. There's a lot of similarities with process and basics between home/prosumer espresso machines and a commercial setup, but quite a few differences. A La Marzocco Linea is pretty standard fare for a commercial cafe setup and they do make a home version (Linea Mini). However, it's still priced around $5-6k plus or minus. I think it's likely to give you the closest setup at home to how a commercial setup would be. It would also offer good resale value when you go to open.

Edit: I just want to add that I'm a baker by trade. Baking bread at home using either just a bowl and your hands or a Kitchen Aid and baking in a pot in a home oven is worlds apart from baking in a bakery. You'll learn the basics of fermentation, dough handling/shaping and scaling. But, when it comes to interacting with machinery like a large spiral mixer and a steam injected deck oven, you have to learn these things all over again. This would be similar to learning how to use an E61 brewhead or temperature surfing a Gaggia when you'll eventually be on a Linea or Synesso or whatever commercial machine; again, a lot more relearning will be involved.
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#3: Post by Jefe »

I would strongly consider checking out Decent. The Decent programming will absolutely help you pull better shots and show you what you're doing wrong/right in the process. You can buy one now and you both can train on it and then when you're ready to do bigger and better things you can buy more machines from Decent. Buying two or three machines from Decent is still cheaper than most any 2-3 group professional machine. If you check out the Marketplace forum here on HB you will find a lot of information from the owner of Decent on how his machines are being used in cafe's and it really seems that is their focus at this time, making bigger and better machines for use in professional settings.

Good luck on your journey I really hope you and your daughter find what you're looking for.

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#4: Post by SteveRhinehart »

You're right across the river from Prima Coffee Equipment. I'd encourage you to give them a call and see if they have any recommendations that you might be able to check out in person. In my experience a basic midrange home machine, something like a heat exchanger capable of making drinks for a small social gathering, would suffice for learning the ropes. In many cases a commercial machine is designed simply to provide repeatable results (with varying degrees of reliability and consistency), so a home machine with few frills matches the eventual use case you'll have.

You'll very likely be able to sell whatever you do purchase down the road when you don't need it anymore, but you might also want to consider something which can do dual duty for you. A light duty commercial machine like the Linea Mini or other NSF certified machine can also be taken to pop-up events or catering (whenever that stuff is viable again) and will perform similarly enough to your commercial machine that your staff won't need any special training to get it right. In the event of a critical repair taking out your big machine, it could also sub in to do light volume in the shop so you can still maintain a bit of revenue.

Coffee Wrench is also in Louisville. I'm not sure if they would have a beater machine in need of a home, but they also might know of something that could be purchased used for a solid discount.

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#5: Post by Nunas »

I believe in reasonably answering this question, I'd need to know at least a couple of things. First, how much experience do you have already, and on what machines...? Second, what kind of cafe do you intend to run? For example, a volume-oriented cafe with espresso as a side feature would often have volumetric, button-operated machines (think *bucks). On the other hand, a boutique espresso-oriented cafe might instead have spring lever machines. These are not mutually exclusive machines in terms of volume; in both cases, multi-group machines can be used, or several single-group machines. I suggest, if you've not already done so, go to all the cafes in your area and have a look around; take note of what machines they have and how they use them.


#6: Post by Andrewp »

What ever machine you buy be happy with it for a while. How long is a while..?? are the only one who can answer that. The only suggestion I would like to contribute is be advised here before pulling the trigger on a/any machine. Selling a pre loved machine can be quite the mission and your pocket can hurt majorly!! The other road is buying a good quality pre loved machine...there are plenty available.
Theres a great community here that will be able to advise you either .

All the best from New Zealand.

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#7: Post by russel »

Assuming you can afford it...get a 1 group Nuova Simonelli Appia, about $3500 new, less if you can hook up with a local/regional roaster who might be able to get you a better price as a wholesale account. Plumb it in and out at home. If you're on a budget get a Super Jolly-E or Major-E or similar Compak grinder (new or carefully purchased used), otherwise jump right up to a K30 or Mythos One (the wholesale price on these is a lot less than the street price, or was the last time I sourced one).

The Appia will give you solid commercial behavior and work flow without breaking the bank on something that probably won't be able to support you cafe anyway (GS3, 1 group Slayer), but could still step in as a backup if your cafe's primary machine goes down.

Another approach is to get a GS3 if you think you might start out doing some pop-up or catering work.

If you think you might want to use Decent machines in your cafe, then that's a good reason to start out with one...I'd spring for the "commercial" model if it's in budget so that it could be ready to leap right to the cafe/farmer's market/pop up venue.
russel at anacidicandbitterbeverage dot com

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#8: Post by mmntip »

He said affordable, and you people start recommending 3k+ machines, hilarious.


#9: Post by dreadnatty08 »

mmntip wrote:He said affordable, and you people start recommending 3k+ machines, hilarious.
Without a stated budget, the term affordable is meaningless. There are espresso machines for $50 and some that are $10k+. What's affordable to one person is a 2 month salary to another person. Anyway, to add further context (in case our OP will not return), this was his quote from another thread:
My daughter owns a vintage/antique store with 2 floors and we are thinking of turning the upstairs into a little cafe.

So yeah, we are looking for good equipment at of course good prices.

Our budget for the 2 group espresso machine and grinder is around $4000-$4500


#10: Post by walr00s »

He said affordable, and you people start recommending 3k+ machines, hilarious.
It's based on this statement from OP.
Eventually my daughter and I want to open a small cafe.