Home espresso machine for somewhat high volume scenario - Page 2

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
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Postby randomorbit » Dec 02, 2018, 5:07 pm

My initial reason for clicking on this thread was because I'm interested in the general question. I, as I suspect a lot of us here, want to be able to play barista to a crowd when we entertain, and definitely struggled to produce milk drinks to order AND visit with my guest at the same time with my Gaggia classic. With the new setup, it was significantly easier and not at all stressful as long as not everyone asked for coffee at the same time. The question I'm interested in is what more can be done to improve it.

For me my grinder is a weak point, and I'd need to change the steam tip on the Brewtus in order to speed up steaming, but other than that I think I'm the weak link. I now have 2 machines, but I can't really use them like a 2 group, because the lever wants a significantly different grind from the Brewtus. Even if I DID have 2 groups though, my speed would be limited by my routine and how well I have it down pat. We have a cafe at the bookstore where i work, and I have filled in in the cafe. I'm a better barista than most of the people who work there, but I'm also a SLOWER barista. So much of what we do as home baristas in our quest to make the best drinks is not sustainable in the busy cafe.

Anyway, all that said I do dream of having a kitchen with a bar with ample room for a 2 group. I'm fond of the Faema E-61 Legend, but I think it looks a little weird as a 1 group. As a 2 group, on a bar between the kitchen and dining room, I can see it serving quite marvelously in dinner party duty, and I might actually be able to get efficient enough to take advantage of it in that role, which is good, because every other day of the year it would be ridiculously overkill for our 2-4 daily morning coffees. Until I get faster, and 2 group might not be much faster than 1, but then again if I've got 15 people waiting for coffee, I'm probably not the only pair of available hands in the room. If you have one person pulling and one person steaming, you can go MUCH faster.

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Postby MB » Dec 02, 2018, 6:15 pm

I had a Spades party with 16 people. At one point there was a break, and I wanted to serve lattes or cappuccinos, but I knew ahead of the party that there wouldn't be enough time. So, I found these (actually at a dollar store, $4 for 16), and practiced splitting one drink in four. Everyone that wanted to try "Matt's special coffee" got a shot. I was able to do four flights in rapid succession, and it worked out great.

LMWDP #472


Postby baldheadracing » Dec 02, 2018, 6:33 pm

Funny, I have an old 3-group Nuova Simonelli and MDX grinder that I picked up from a shop that was converting to a super-automatic. You can pull a lot of coffee with a 3-group and steam huge amounts of milk ... but I could do it only if I used the grinder - more correctly, the grinder's doser - as the Italians intended it to be used: pre-grind, fill the doser, and dose two thwacks of the doser in a double basket, tamp, and pull. No scales, no WDT, no single dosing, no bottomless portafilter, and I needed a lot of frankly anti-social concentration.

But, a funny thing happened when I got my Strega - a lever machine. Guests were attracted to the theatre of pulling espresso with a lever - something almost all of them had never seen - and were willing to wait their turn, standing around and socializing, finishing their dinner wine (probably a key point), etc. I was using an Hg-One hand grinder at the time with the Strega (pre-weighed doses). There was time to talk to guests while pulling, everything was just more relaxed. Some guests would jump in and grind. Of course, there would also be a pot of brewed coffee and a huge Espro press going for those who wanted caffeine right then and there.

Since then, the 3-group has been banished to the workshop to be raided for parts, and the dinner-party-loving ex is, well, an ex, but the Strega remains 8).
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann


Postby chipman » Dec 02, 2018, 6:42 pm


Postby Lacoffee » Dec 02, 2018, 11:14 pm

That guy is awesome. And that is what you need. A four group.

Alan Frew

Postby Alan Frew » Dec 03, 2018, 4:51 am

The limitation is the grinder: if you're grinding per shot it can't be done. However, with a decent doser grinder, small (150ml) cups or glasses, a 2 litre milk jug and a machine that steam and brews simultaneously it's easy. Pull 3 double shots into 6 glasses (3 minutes) while steaming about 800ml of milk, top up glasses with milk then repeat. Each cycle takes about 5 minutes start-to-finish. As long as no one is asking for variations other than straight espresso or macchiato you can churn out a dozen drinks every 10 minutes as long as your concentration holds.

And yes, I've done it commercially in Real Life and also using a single boiler, brew then steam machine, see http://www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/challenge.html .



Postby emason » Dec 04, 2018, 3:38 pm

Interesting challenge! A couple of features that will help a bit if you're trying to go as quickly as possible:

- double boiler, volumetric machine
- an automatic grinder with a built in portafilter rest (e.g. nuova simonelli MDX automatic)

These type of features will reduce waiting as much as possible, and reduce the amount of time you will spend standing and waiting to turn on or off the grinder or the brew group, or for temperatures to recover.

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Postby rimblas » Dec 05, 2018, 1:25 am

This is a great topic!
In addition to splitting drinks into smaller cups, I've also started experimenting with multiple ridgeless baskets. You prep the baskets, maybe while chatting with guests, and then you pull the shots in rapid succession. I bang the pucks out, but delay the cleaning. The ridgeless baskets allow me to maintain the basket prep intact.


Postby nuketopia » Dec 05, 2018, 3:27 am

The LMLM has the steam capacity to make a lot of milk drinks and to steam a large pitcher easily.

You can do this Starbucks style and steam up a big pitcher of milk and pull double shots into shot glasses.

Then you're down to how fast you can pull shots. 1.5/minute is doable, but you'll be busy without some help. With two portafilters and some help, you should be able to knock it out like a pro.


Postby lagoon » Dec 06, 2018, 12:01 am

So in summary, here's the things you can do for the fastest possible throughput for your dinner party scenario:

1. Only offer one cup size - italian cappuccino size.
2. Two portafilters, both double spouted.
3. Split the shots.
4. Fill your bean hopper and use a fast, on-demand grinder with a portafilter rest.
5. Use a machine with big steam power and endurance like the LMLM, Speedster, etc.
6. Steam larger jugs of milk, probably enough for 4 cappuccino sized drinks at once.

Also ask if anyone wants a short or long black - you may be surprised and get some takers. These are very fast to prepare, and short blacks are often popular after dinner as people may not feel like a heavy milky drink.