Specifying considerations for Espresso and Cappuccino Machines

Due to major technological enhancements of automatic espresso/cappuccino machines, beverage quality and foaming techniques no longer require skilled labor. As a result, a growing number of foodservice operations continue to take advantage of the revenue-producing opportunity these units offer.

Ken Schwartz, president of SSA in Tampa, Fla., provides details on what operators need to know to properly specify this equipment.

  • The main considerations to weigh when purchasing one of these machines include budget, type of equipment and the employees’ skill set. These units can be extremely manual, partially automatic and fully automatic. The more automated the machine, the greater the cost and the consistency. This is important, no matter if the beverage is espresso or espresso based. The guest experience can be negatively impacted if consistency is an issue. Also, there can be incremental cost increases if too much coffee or milk is added, which can add up over time and negatively affect the business.
  • One of the biggest issues is the water quality, which impacts the taste of the product. Water filtration is typically necessary to protect the integrity of the beverage and service life of the machine.
  • Depending on the unit type and model, electrical requirements can be a factor. Operators need to verify that the operation has the necessary amp capacity. If not, an electrician needs to run a separate utility line to hook up the machine. In some cases, these lines may be located behind dry wall or plaster, so accessibility and hookup costs need to be taken into account.
  • Location is another consideration. If operators look to place machines over the server stand or in the main dining area, the cost to run an electrical line may be prohibitive.
  • Take into account the employees’ skill levels when it comes to speed of service. If a less experienced staff member prepares these beverages, the production time will take away from face-to-face guest interaction. Servers using these machines may be off the floor for as much as 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
  • The availability of parts and service are key considerations, since most operations purchase one machine due to the expense. These are big revenue generators, so an operation cannot afford downtime caused by a delay in repairs. It pays to ask manufacturers about the availability of parts.
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