Best pod systems/all-in-one office espresso machine

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
tony p

Postby tony p » Feb 17, 2012, 2:28 am

At home I'm a purist with a Silvia and a stepless flat-burr grinder. But my workplace has requested my assistance in purchasing a robust and hassle-free system for their new branch, so I'm lowering my standards temporarily to open a discussion on such systems.

They want an espresso machine, which is why I'm posting on this forum. Fairly low-volume, perhaps up to 30 cups a day max. Seems to me the choice boils down to:

1. A pod system (Nespresso etc)
2. All-in-one unit with a water tank, a built-in grinder/doser and (optional) a milk tank.

Of course, we know that such machines produce only mediocre coffee, that's a given. The critical question is therefore to do with cost and hassle. Pod machines are hassle-free, and it's easy to swap between caffeinated and decaf by the cup, but supplies are expensive. All-in-ones have a high up-front cost but low ongoing supply costs; then there's cleaning, servicing and breakdowns to consider.

On the whole I think they will be better served with a straightforward pod unit. So: which system has the best-value pods? Nespresso seems to be the clear market leader (and even then, they appear to offer at least two distinct pod types), so I would expect their pods to come loaded with a price premium. Are there better-value systems out there?

All comments welcome. Feel free to flame me too, if you so wish!

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Postby jbviau » Feb 17, 2012, 8:30 am

Are the Caffitaly systems available over there? If so, you might check them out. About Nespresso, do you have a boutique store nearby?
"It's not anecdotal evidence, it's artisanal data." -Matt Yglesias

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Postby mariobarba » Feb 17, 2012, 8:52 am

We have a Lavazza espresso point machine at work that we lease from our coffee supplier. He lets us have the machine for free as long as we order so much coffee per month. I have tried several of the different blends available and the aroma club is my favourite. The machine stays on 24hrs a day and we have had it for ~ 3 yrs now without any issues. The coffee comes in little plastic pods which are ejected into a drawer when used up. There are tea capsules available as well. Hot water and steam on demand.

tony p

Postby tony p » Feb 20, 2012, 2:23 am

Thanks all. Despite their advantages, I really think pod machines end up costing a lot more money in a high-volume setting (anything more than 10 cups per day).

Can anyone recommend a good integrated machine with a grinder and (optionally) an automated steamer? I know they can be expensive. What are the pitfalls with these machines?



Postby jaholliday » Feb 20, 2012, 9:04 am

I'm curious about this as well. I don't have a sink in my office so a semi-auto would be difficult to clean up after. I have a hard time believing the Nespresso produces a drinkable cup, given that it is produced by Nestle.

I would get the Quickmill superauto if I could afford it. Are there other options in the sub 1k range that anyone can recommend? I know there have been many threads on this topic but they always devolve into a debate about the merits (or lack thereof) of semi-autos. Given that, is there a model that anyone can recommend that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? Many of the coffee's I bought in my recent trip to Switzerland were made on a superauto, and were very drinkable, so I know it's possible, but perhaps only on a 10k commercial machine?

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Postby mariobarba » Feb 20, 2012, 12:05 pm

I have never owned a Super Auto but apparently they are prone to failure, which is why if you are using it in a high volume area I would suggest leasing the machine so that if anything goes wrong you are covered. The lavazza capsules cost anywhere between .50$ and .75$. We round it up to 1$ and use the extra cash to buy milk, cream etc.