A Guide to Buying Coffee Machines for Restaurants and Catering

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A Guide to Buying Coffee Machines for Restaurants and Catering

Fresh, hot coffee is one of the most popular restaurant beverages, and indeed, one of the most popular hot drinks in general. Although tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water, two-thirds of Britons drink tea daily, and the number of cups of tea drunk daily in the UK is more than twice that of coffee. However, coffee is more popular in regions, such as North America (Canada, the United States, and Mexico), Scandinavian countries (Norway and Finland), and Certain Western European nations (Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands), So it is particularly important for any eatery in a building that serves an international clientele, such as a hotel or airport, to offer tasty coffee.

Needless to say, investing in a top-notch commercial coffee machine is a necessity for almost any business that serves full meals, snacks, or pastries. There are several factors that one should consider when selecting the right coffee machine for a business. One must decide which method of making coffee is best and then based on that choose a coffee machine with sufficient capacity and that can make enough coffee quickly. eBay has hundreds of listings for commercial coffee machines of all types.

The History of Coffee and Coffee Machines

The reports on the origin of coffee definitely conflict, so there is no one definitive origin story on how coffee was discovered and who popularised this revitalising brown liquid. Historians generally believe that coffee was first found and brewed in either Africa or the Middle East, and then was later introduced into Europe in the 16th century. Coffee quickly became a social beverage, likely due to its restorative and stimulating effects that came without the heedlessness caused by alcohol consumption. As cafés increased in popularity, it became important to be able to brew larger quantities of coffee. This was achieved by brewing coffee in large pots and pans, then straining the liquid.

In the 19th century, drip brewing was invented, and many other specialised types of coffee-brewing equipment followed, including vacuum brewers, percolators, and pour-over, water-displacement machines.

Coffee-Making Methods

Before discussing coffee makers, it is good to have a general understanding of the different ways in which coffee can be made. The most common types of coffee makers are French presses, percolators, drip coffee makers, and water displacement coffee machines.

French Presses

To use a French press, one adds coffee ground to the bottom of the pot, then adds a special strainer with a plunger. Hot water is added to the pot, and the coffee is allowed to brew for a few minutes. Then, the strainer is pressed against the grounds at the bottom so that the coffee can be poured out. While many coffee-lovers rave about French presses for home use, this method is too impractical for most commercial applications.


Styles of percolators vary, but the large ones that make massive quantities of java are usually large urns. The heated water circulates repeatedly through the coffee grounds until the coffee reaches the ideal strength of flavour. Percolators are economical because they require less ground coffee. Several passes of water through the same ground coffee means that less is required to make a pot.

Automatic Drip Brewers

Drip coffee makers usually require that the ground coffee be put into a basket over the empty coffee pot. Water is poured into a reservoir in the machine. The water is pumped upwards through a tube into a heating chamber. The hot water is then sprayed over the grounds so that the coffee grounds fall back down through the basket of coffee. The basket is lined with a filter to keep the grounds from floating down into the coffee pot.

Water-Displacement Brewers

The water-displacement method is similar to the drip method of preparing coffee. Water in the reservoir is heated and kept at that temperature. The coffee-making process is activated by pouring fresh (cold) water into the machine. The water that was in there initially gets moved out of the tank and into the sprayer. These machines can make coffee very quickly, because the water is already pre-heated, unlike in regular drip brewers where the water has to be heated from cold.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Coffee Machine

The method of brewing coffee determines the taste of the final product as well as the type of coffee that can be used in the coffee machine. However, with commercial coffee machines, there are two other factors that are important to consider: the size and the operating speed. It is critical to get these variables right in order to be able to provide plenty of fresh, hot coffee to customers.

The Size of the Coffee Machine

When choosing a coffee machine for a restaurant or catering business, it is essential that the machine has the capacity to serve enough people before another batch of coffee must be brewed. For instance, if there are 50 guests and 30 of them drink coffee, one should be able, in theory, to serve them all at the same time. It is important to use a bit of reasoning when determining a coffee maker's true capacity, because many cases an cup of coffee is considered to be only about 120 mm, which is not usually the average serving size. It may take a bit of number crunching to figure out the perfect-sized coffee machine for a particular business.

The Operating Speed

The speed with which a machine makes coffee is also an essential determining factor in a purchasing decision. When the coffee runs out, whether the next batch is going to be ready in one or five minutes can make a huge difference to one's customers. It never hurts to get the fastest model on the market, although this might be quite an expensive option and may not be necessary for a particular application. Speed also relates to capacity. A coffee machine that is capable of making 100 cups of coffee does not necessarily need to brew as fast as smaller, individual pots of coffee.

The following chart gives a brief summary on the size and speeds of the most popular types of coffee machines.

Coffee Maker Type


Maximum Output



Up to 100 cups

Automatic Drip Maker


Usually about 12 small cups

Pour Over Drip Maker


Usually about 12 small cups, although some have multiple burners

Most modern coffee machines are quite fast regardless of the method, but the capacity should also be taken into consideration. Again, keep in mind that the type of coffee differs depending on the machine. Percolators require more coarsely ground coffee. Since the water circulates through the grounds many times, a fine ground would produce coffee that is far too strong. On the other hand, drip makers require finely ground coffee, since the water passes through the grounds just once.

Where to Find Commercial Coffee Machines

You can buy commercial coffee machines from any number of catering supply companies. Sometimes, restaurants and caterers sell used machines in good condition when they upgrade their equipment or go out of business. Check classified adverts and auctions for used coffee machines. Online auctions often have the most variety of new and used items.

How to Find a Commercial Coffee Machine on eBay

You can find a variety of commercial coffee machines, both new and used, on eBay.. To get started with your shopping, begin at the homepage and find the search field. Type in a word or phrase, such as 'commercial coffee machine' or 'restaurant coffee maker'. If you wish to get more specific, you can add other descriptors, such as a desired brand name or colour. Next, click the Search button or press the Enter key on your keyboard. All active listings that are tagged with the terms you used show up on a results page. You can start browsing at this point, or you can further narrow down the choices by using various search filters to sort the listings.

If you find coffee machines listed in a commercial category, you may wish to search just that category. To do this, return to the homepage and follow the link to All Categories.. Locate the category that came up during the keyword search described above, and navigate to that category by clicking on the link. Continue to choose subcategories until you have drilled down to the commercial coffee machines you are looking for. You may wish to stop and browse other categories along the way, such as those for related items or accessories that go with coffee machines.


A restaurant without a coffee machine is almost like a restaurant without an oven. People go into an eatery expecting certain things to be available, and a warm, fragrant cup of coffee is usually on that list of expectations. Moreover, the smell of brewing coffee adds to a pleasant atmosphere, even for guests who do not drink it. Studies have even shown that coffee has numerous possible health benefits. Like tea, coffee contains antioxidants that combat free radicals, which are molecules that contribute to the aging process. Luckily, because most people drink either coffee or tea, most of the population reaps the rewards of these healthy brews. Offering both is a ticket to attracting and keeping customers.

Picking out a coffee machine is a matter of selecting the right brewing method, size, and operating speed. Coffee machines may use the most popular percolation, drip, or pour-over methods. One should also choose a coffee maker that produces enough coffee to keep drinkers satisfied and works fast enough to provide refills before cups are emptied. eBay has listings for commercial coffee machines of every configuration, and often at prices better than anyplace else.

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