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JoeMorton
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Joined: 13 Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Orlando, FL
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Mar 13, 2014, 7:32pm
Subject: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

So I'm brand new and jumping in over my head. I've been researching espresso machines with the hope of finding one I could use at my church. It would get used once a week, and I can't imagine making any more than 30 shots at a time. 30 is the absolute max, there just wouldn't be enough time to make that many. I'm afraid I already know the answer to this, but is it unreasonable to think that a prosumer model could handle this kind of use? I was looking specifically at the Breville BES900XL. I'm ok with refilling the tank frequently (instead of having a plumbed line). I'd actually prefer it that way so the machine would be somewhat mobile. I'm wondering if the boiler could keep up, or if there's something else that I don't even know about.

What's the level of usage where it really makes sense to look at commercial equipment? Could I maybe get creative and buy two cheaper espresso machines to split the work load?

Thanks for your help!
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BarryR
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Joined: 21 Nov 2010
Posts: 281
Location: Wilbraham
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Clever...
Roaster: Hottop KN-8828B2-K
Posted Thu Mar 13, 2014, 8:48pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

I would imagine that 30 shots max daily and not much more than that weekly would be OK for a Prosumer machine duty-wise but if you're making 30 shorts back to back, waiting for the water to come back up to temperature could be tedious.

It's also important whether you'll be making mostly straight espresso or lattes; if lattes, then you probably need a machine that froths milk fast and I'm not sure the Breville would be fast enough (see what others, more knowledgeable than I say.
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thedotben
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thedotben
Joined: 8 Mar 2012
Posts: 48
Location: Holland
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 1:59pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

A Rancilio Silva may have a little more horse power but not be a budget breaker for you.
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ljguitar
Senior Member
ljguitar
Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 2,805
Location: Cheyenne
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Pulsar
Grinder: Mazzer SuperJolly • Baratza
Drip: Bunn • AeroPress
Roaster: Behmor•Variacs
Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 2:33pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

Hi Joe...

We have had an Expobar Pulser home unit in our kitchen (manual without electronics) for several years now, and for fun once I took it to a friend's place of work and we pulled 38 doubles in an hour with him grinding, me tamping and pulling shots, steaming milk (20oz at a shot), someone else building beverages out of them, and someone else running the water back to us. I had multiple portafilters (4 of them).

Your unit has to be able to steam shots and heat milk at the same time, and smaller machines are just not capable.

We thought we had pre-thought it, and set out an area with a full table (like Sunday School table) for grinding, and building the beverages, and I had 5 feet of counter space to pull shots. It was all we could do to keep up, and I was not pulling the quality of shots there that I do at home. It was a hectic process, but people only had 15 minute breaks to get their beverage and be back at their desks.

It let me know that there are times to look at commercial units, or even semi-auto. If everyone wanted to drink espresso that would be do-able, but people want 'other' beverages with espresso added. Lattes, Cappuccinos, Macchiato, Americanos etc. And some want Soy milk, or fat free milk etc. This is a fairly beefy little prosumer pour-over unit, with a quick recovery time, and that day was a 'race' (more like a rat race) to do that.

Zip ahead in time a couple years and we attended a wedding where they announced they'd be pulling espresso at a table for guests...when we got to their area, they had 3 Expobar Pulser machines going full tilt to handle 100 people and the lines were 10 deep. They were not even pretending to measure carefully, tamp properly or clean up very well.

If you are thinking of 30 shots once a week, over what time span are you looking to pull all of them? If it's the last 15-20 minutes before a meeting/service, it ain't happening with a machine the size of mine. And an area espresso service center upgraded my pstat for me, and upgraded it to make it a more efficient unit.

I think if you had a pair of prosumer level machines, and a crew to build the drinks, and one person who had the full-time responsibility to keep the water flowing and another to steam milk...you might have a chance. The real issue with serving tons of complex beverages in a fairly short-amount-of-time.

Just my thoughts...


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ljguitar
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ljguitar
Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 2,805
Location: Cheyenne
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Pulsar
Grinder: Mazzer SuperJolly • Baratza
Drip: Bunn • AeroPress
Roaster: Behmor•Variacs
Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 2:46pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

Hi Joe...

We have had an Expobar Pulser home unit in our kitchen (fully manual) for several years now, and for fun once I took it to a friend's place of work and we pulled 38 doubles in an hour with him grinding, me tamping and pulling shots, steaming (20oz at a shot), someone else building beverages out of them, and someone else running the water back to us. I had multiple portafilters (4 of them).

We thought we had pre-thought it, and set out an area with a full table (like Sunday School table) for grinding, and building the beverages, and I had 5 feet of counter space to pull shots. It was all we could do to keep up, and I was not pulling the quality of shots there that I do at home. It was a hectic process, but people only had 15 minute breaks to get their beverage and be back at their desks.

It let me know that there are times to look at commercial units, or even semi-auto. If everyone wanted to drink espresso that would be do-able, but people want 'other' beverages with espresso added. Lattes, Cappuccinos, Macchiato, Americanos etc. And some want Soy milk, or fat free milk etc. This is a fairly beefy little prosumer pour-over unit, with a quick recovery time, and that day was a 'race' (more like a rat race) to do that.

Zip ahead in time a couple years and we attended a wedding where they announced they'd be pulling espresso at a table for guests...when we got to their area, they had 3 Expobar Pulser machines going full tilt to handle 100 people and the lines were 10 deep. They were not even pretending to measure carefully, tamp properly or clean up very well.

If you are thinking of 30 shots once a week, over what time span are you looking to pull all of them? If it's the last 15-20 minutes before a meeting/service, it ain't happening with a machine the size of mine.

I think if you had a pair of prosumer level machines, and a crew to build the drinks, and one person who had the full-time responsibility to keep the water flowing and another to steam milk...you might have a chance.

Just my thoughts...


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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,481
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 4:36pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

thedotben Said:

A Rancilio Silva may have a little more horse power but not be a budget breaker for you.

Posted March 15, 2014 link

Hard to imagine a worse choice.

Rich
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,481
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 6:37pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

ljguitar Said:

We have had an Expobar Pulser home unit in our kitchen (fully manual) for several years now...

Posted March 15, 2014 link

Just as an FYI:

The Pulser is not fully manual, it's a semiautomatic, HX machine.  

"Manual" machines are almost always levers; what makes them "manual" is the lack of a powered pump.

"Semiautomatic" machines have a powered pump, but -- in contrast with an automatics -- require the user to turn off the pump when the shot is done, or else the pump will continue to run.  

"Automatic" aka "dosing" machines shut the pump off after either a certain amount of time (usually vibratory pump machines) or when they've pumped a given volume of water (most often machines with rotary type pumps) into the pf.

Hope this clarifies,
Rich
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,481
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 7:23pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

JoeMorton Said:

It would get used once a week, and I can't imagine making any more than 30 shots at a time. 30 is the absolute max, there just wouldn't be enough time to make that many. I'm afraid I already know the answer to this, but is it unreasonable to think that a prosumer model could handle this kind of use? I was looking specifically at the Breville BES900XL.

Posted March 13, 2014 link

Larry (ljguitar) is right.  The challenge isn't only in the equipment.  Skills are an even larger obstacle.  

A fast barista who doesn't have to worry about things like cleaning pitchers and refilling pitchers can pull a shot a minute. A fast amateur with some professional experience, using a commercial (plumbed in) machine, a very fast grinder, and with someone to take care of running cups, pitchers, etc., could produce something on the order of a drink/90sec -- as long as most of them were straight shots.  

It's a pretty easy guess that even with the fastest equipment, you can't do better than a pretty bad shot every three minutes or so.    

I'm not sure what the maximum throughput is on a BDB if the load includes a normal percentage of milk drinks.  At a guess, a drink/3min.  

Anything but the fastest grinder, presents another hurdle.  

And so it goes.

What's the level of usage where it really makes sense to look at commercial equipment? Could I maybe get creative and buy two cheaper espresso machines to split the work load?

In your case, "load" is a lot less important than "rate."  30 drinks per week isn't much of a load.

There are a few relatively inexpensive HXs with a fast enough recovery time to handle a fast barista (as long as there isn't too much milk, and as long as she has help with order taking, running cups, washing pitchers, other cleaning, etc., etc.); an NS Oscar for instance -- although its size and awkward layout would add a little time per drink.  

Professional coffee caterers (with heavy emphasis on the word coffee) can handle groups of a hundred -- at a wedding for instance -- with a two group commercial or even a couple of full-sized prosumers.  But the point of emphasizing "coffee," is that fast, experienced personnel is part of the package.  Without a good crew, you're bound to get the kind of cluster-f#%k Larry described.

Bottom Line
A casual espresso bar sounds like a good idea, but there's a lot involved and it's not easy to make it work.  Unless you have an experienced barista willing to donate her time, I'd give the project a serious rethink.      

There are some really wonderful coffee service choices for the type of use you're describing -- just not espresso.
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JoeMorton
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Joined: 13 Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Orlando, FL
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 8:07pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

Thanks all for your insight. I was clearly making some false assumptions (since I've never pulled a shot before in my life.) I thought since a shot is pulled in about 30 seconds, I could make drinks (with practice) in about a minute. I wasnt considering all the time it takes to clean and grind properly. The real limitation wouldn't be the equipment (it would be me, like you're saying). Maybe some pour over coffee would be more appropriate? Off to do more research. ( I dont know what pour over coffee is yet..)
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,481
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sat Mar 15, 2014, 8:35pm
Subject: Re: Choosing an Espresso machine for church use?
 

JoeMorton Said:

Maybe some pour over coffee would be more appropriate? Off to do more research. ( I dont know what pour over coffee is yet..)

Posted March 15, 2014 link

"Pour over" is another name for "manual drip."  Chemex is a familiar example.  It's almost always done in small quantities.  Pour over could be doable for a group, but it would require several brewers and attention from a barista.  

A commercial automatic drip, the kind you see in coffee shops -- a Bunn for instance -- along with an appropriate grinder -- like a Bunn LPG -- would be a lot more efficient and easier to use than trying to do pour-over for a crowd.  There's so much turn over in the restaurant industry that this sort of commercial equipment is usually available used and in good condition at reasonable prices throughout the country.  As a church, you might even be able to arrange a donation or partial donation in exchange for a tax credit.

Another really good (and economical!) choice is putting out carafes of cold-brew concentrate (Toddy for instance) and allowing your congregants to build their own hot or cold drinks by presenting a bar which includes ice, cold water, hot water and the appropriate variety of dairy, sweeteners, etc.  I like this sort of service a great deal because it's so easy to pair with a tea service.  

The sine qua non of coffee excellence is good beans, very freshly ground by a really good grinder.  The brew system itself is way down the ladder.

Rich
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