Commercial vs. Prosumer... what are the classifications?

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increasingdelight

#1: Post by increasingdelight »

Maybe this has been talked about in a previous discussion? I couldn't find anything, well... sorry if I missed it :(

I've been really thinking about the differences between commercial and prosumer machines lately, but I'm a little uncertain as to what those differences really "boil" down to.

For example, the Izzo Duettos and Vibiemmes are *some* of the top home (prosumer) machines on the market, while something like the La Marzocco GS/3 is one (of many) popular commercial machines. I've been researching machines for a while now (on my personal hunt + time saving), and they have really got me pondering what technically classifies as a "prosumer" machine VS a "commercial" machine - as well as why you would choose one over the other. So what IS the difference, exactly? Wouldn't you be able to run a small restaurant/coffee shop with a Duetto or Vibiemme if you really wanted to? Or is there something about them that makes them a poor choice in that aspect? (obviously I'm comparing only 1group machines, or it would be an easy answer)

...If that where the case, does that make a La Marzocco a better choice (even for the home) or is it simply over-kill for personal use? If so, why would someone purchase a commercial machine for personal use then? I mean, I don't know if commercial machines are better than prosumer ones or just different... but I imagine they are just meant for two different types of use.

..I hope none of that comes across sarcastically, I am genuinely curious as to the differences and why one would choose one over the other (other than $$$ of course)...
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I'd rather just have coffee than food.
www.strawberrykoi.com

DJF

#2: Post by DJF »

This line of thought is so blurry there is no real definitive answer. Vibe pumps, rotaries, space, budget, looks etc etc, put it all together and pick one. Want more? Add the romance of vintage levers and pumpers.

I use an Elektra A3 as an every day machine with a MCAL for afternoon delights. Total overkill but that's me with a partner with endless patience. I have a two group '65 E61 waiting in the wings. This borders on insanity some might say.

Read up and enjoy whatever you decide. It doesn't have to be forever.
"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I don't think so."

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allon

#3: Post by allon »

increasingdelight wrote:If so, why would someone purchase a commercial machine for personal use then? I mean, I don't know if commercial machines are better than prosumer ones or just different... but I imagine they are just meant for two different types of use.

...

I am genuinely curious as to the differences and why one would choose one over the other (other than $$$ of course)...
Well, I will invoke price here.
For many of us a commercial machine is cheaper.
If you don't care about chrome, but only performance, a used, roughly treated commercial machine can often be had for a song. Then fixed up and customized. Clearly there are compromises, and you have to be technical, but the rewards are great.
LMWDP #331

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HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

increasingdelight wrote:I've been really thinking about the differences between commercial and prosumer machines lately, but I'm a little uncertain as to what those differences really "boil" down to.
As part of streamlining the site's reviews, I've been thinking about the OP's question, i.e., what are the key criteria that separate one class of espresso machine from another? Below is my first take on an answer, excerpted from the Quick Mill Silvano Review research thread:
HB wrote:What initially distinguishes the class of an espresso machine is its basic capability, namely can it brew espresso and steam milk at the same time. Entry-level espresso machines typically have a single boiler that serves as both brew and steam boiler (the so-called "single boiler, dual use" espresso machine); such espresso machines have a switch that controls whether the boiler is brewing (approx. 200°F) or steaming (approx. 255°F). The next class of espresso machines, prosumer or semi-commercial, can brew and steam at the same time for small groups, say 4 to 6 people. Commercial equipment represent the third class of espresso machines; they have the capacity to brew and steam rapidly enough to serve a line of latte/cappuccino/espresso lovers.
The WBC Procedure for Measurement of Brewing Water Temperature further clarifies what I had in mind by "brew and steam rapidly":
Scace et al wrote:5.3 Testing pattern:
Specification: The length of the idle interval for item A of the Test Procedure shall be:

Image
A top-performing prosumer espresso machine can serve cappuccinos/lattes for a group of friends with short 30 second recovery intervals between drinks for the group temperature to stabilize. A top-performing commercial espresso machine would need 10 seconds or less recovery time between drinks. On the other end of the spectrum, entry-level espresso machines typically need more than 90 seconds between drinks, otherwise steam production falters and the group temperature destabilizes (i.e., it will usually trend lower and lower). Another way of saying the same thing: Commercial espresso equipment handles full-out "party mode" for 6+ people rapidly with no worries about brew temperature management.
increasingdelight wrote:...why would someone purchase a commercial machine for personal use then? I mean, I don't know if commercial machines are better than prosumer ones or just different... but I imagine they are just meant for two different types of use.
I eluded to this point in the previous paragraph: Top-performing commercial espresso machines, generally speaking, perform their jobs rapidly and consistently with minimal fuss. Of the five C's this site discusses in reviews (capability, consistency, convenience, capacity, construction), consistency and capacity under load are where commercial equipment separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
Dan Kehn

joatmon

#5: Post by joatmon »

I always thought that certifications such as NFS, CE, etc. distinguished a machine as commercial.

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HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB »

In my limited understanding, the NSF/ETL designations are testing standards for safety and sanitation; they're required as part of a commercial food license. The NSF/ETL doesn't test the sort of performance criteria we're interested in (e.g., how stable the group temperature is shot-to-shot). For what it's worth, not all espresso manufacturers apply for NSF/ETL certification because the testing is costly, even if technically a piece of equipment would meet the test criteria.
Dan Kehn

joatmon

#7: Post by joatmon »

But, doesn't commercial truly mean suitability for use in a commercial setting?

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increasingdelight

#8: Post by increasingdelight »

Thank you so much everyone! This definitely gives me food for thought... although I feel like maybe it's just about as confusing for those with more knowledge and experience, as it is for myself....
DJF wrote:This line of thought is so blurry there is no real definitive answer. Vibe pumps, rotaries, space, budget, looks etc etc, put it all together and pick one. Want more? Add the romance of vintage levers and pumpers.

I use an Elektra A3 as an every day machine with a MCAL for afternoon delights. Total overkill but that's me with a partner with endless patience. I have a two group '65 E61 waiting in the wings. This borders on insanity some might say.

Read up and enjoy whatever you decide. It doesn't have to be forever.
Oh, it's not so much about my personal choice. Of course comparing these machines is what got me thinking about it, but this post is about my curiosity of the classifications for commercial machines against a prosumer... Because to me, I can't see a difference until it becomes more than a 1-group machine - and until that point, they all seem all amazing enough for home AND commercial use... So I wonder how, say, sites like SeattleCoffeeGear or CliveCoffee decides even going about categorizing these machines in their inventory.
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I'd rather just have coffee than food.
www.strawberrykoi.com

finntexn

#9: Post by finntexn »

I'm pretty sure that the boiler size plays a big part in deciding what's what. It's all about production volumes.
HB wrote:A top-performing prosumer espresso machine can serve cappuccinos/lattes for a group of friends with short 30 second recovery intervals between drinks for the group temperature to stabilize. A top-performing commercial espresso machine would need 10 seconds or less recovery time between drinks. On the other end of the spectrum, entry-level espresso machines typically need more than 90 seconds between drinks, otherwise steam production falters and the group temperature destabilizes (i.e., it will usually trend lower and lower). Another way of saying the same thing: Commercial espresso equipment handles full-out "party mode" for 6+ people rapidly with no worries about brew temperature management.
That I think is the clue right there.
comparing machines like for example the ns musica and ns Appia single group with one another helps to tell what's what, the ns musica plumbed in or with 3l tank has a 2l boiler, on the other hand the Appia comes only plumbed in, and has a 5l boiler., that by itself screams production capability.
My two cents!! 8)

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JmanEspresso

#10: Post by JmanEspresso »

Capacity. Can it keep up? Plenty of single group full commercial machines couldn't keep up with a busy bar in the morning rush. Two and Three group machines are the most popular choices these days. New third wave cafes are generally using a machine from a handful of brands.. La Marzocco, Synesso, maybe a Slayer, maybe a Kees Van Der Westen, and probably also an Aurelia II if they're training for competition. These machines in 2 group or above can pretty much run constantly, 3 and 4 group models especially. There is a Video on Slayer's website of the machine in use in a Cafe in Australia, and its like 7 minutes long, and 90% of the video is showing a Barista's workflow, and he is just pulling shot shot shot shot, stopping only to fill the portafilter again and quickly flush the group.


Most of the semi-commercial machines that are owned by many here are built with similar parts. Geimme and Gicar brain boxes and PIDs, Solenoids, Pumps, Pstats.. The main difference is capacity. What makes something like the GS/3 a home machine more than a commercial machine? Really nothing except that maybe it has an internal pump and reservoir, and runs efficiently on 110v/15amp. And that LM calls it a home machine.

I love watching this video..