Here are a few things to ask about or look for with a used commercial espresso coffee machine:
1. Does it have a current safety certificate stating that it is in good serviced condition and safe to use? Any service history? a "written scheme" should be in place for pressurised vessels in the workplace. Espresso coffee machines are nearly always subject to the laws of the "Pressure Vessels Act".
No? - don't use a machine in your cafe or restaurant if it doesn't! If you are confident that the machine could be repaired or serviced easily and a new certificate obtained then adjust your offer accordingly. Be warned though, servicing and boiler inspections can be expensive. One advantage with new machines is that they come with all the required documentation - at least they should!
2. Is there an importer or machine supplier that can provide you with spare parts? Any local engineers?
Hundreds of manufacturers making several models all changing specifications regularly - you have been warned!
3. Can you see the machine working?
Always try to see the machine set-up and ready to use, give the machine a good trial, does the water pump provide 9bar (a common setting for the majority of modern machines) of pressure when operating the group/s? pumps often seize up after machines have been unused for a while, listen for any squeaks or squeals when the pump runs.
4. Make a coffee, ensure that you can get a decent "crema" on an espresso.
5. Do all the buttons work? Touchpads can be expensive!
6. Check the wattage of the machine, these types of machine can be powerful and often require larger power or three phase supplies to be installed - check with a qualified electrician.
7. Listen to the machine when in use, any hissing noises usually mean a steam leak - not good, similarly any puddles underneath are an obvious water leak. Don't forget that these machines are a potent mix of water, electricity and pressure - ask any engineer and they will say the same - be careful!
8. Do you have an engineer who could install your machine and set it up for you? From experience we know that there are plenty of people who could get a machine running, but few who can set one up properly!
9. How do you programme the buttons if the machine is automatic? is there a key or an instruction book?
These often get lost.
10. If in doubt, back away from the deal! Espresso coffee machines can be very profitable for your business - buy a good one!