A Guide to Office Coffee Machines

Coffee has become an integral part of our livelihoods and with the explosion of independent coffee shop brands on the high-street, our interest in premium quality coffee has grown. Today, the office coffee machine qualifies for increasing staff productivity rates, motivation and happiness levels, while also decreasing workplace stress and is a worthy investment for any small- or large-scale business to make.

Long gone are the days of relying on the office kettle to provide you with a decent brew. New advancements in technology provide businesses that wish to serve better quality coffee at work to their employees with a whole host of choices from bean-to-cup machines to commercial coffee machines. Our step-by-step guide will help you to find the right coffee solutions for your business, from information on the various types of coffee machines available on the market, to tips on how to care for and fund your machine.

Why Coffee

We are firm believers that coffee is the driving force behind the success of every office. Coffee helps fuel us and give us the boost we need to meet deadlines, be vocal in team meetings and inspire others in the workplace. At Liquidline, we choose coffee to enhance employee experience and satisfaction rates. There are many different styles and forms of coffee, from lattes, to cappuccinos, mochas and traditional black coffee. A coffee machine can cater for all, no matter your taste preference.

1.    Company Size

The size of your office will be a determining factor when it comes to your new coffee machine purchase. If you have between 10-50 employees to cater for, then a bean-to-cup or filter coffee machine could be the right purchase for you. If you have over 200 employees, then a bean-to-cup machine should be top of your list. We can help you pick one that can realistically meet your consumption volume needs. We recommend that the higher your consumption and volume of employees to cater for, the more likely you will need a bean-to-cup machine over a filter, capsule or barista machine.

2.    Cost and Quality

Cost is a key factor when deciding what machine to buy and with cost, comes the quality of machine you decide to invest in. Many professional commercial coffee machines are available on lease which helps to cover overhead costs. The cost and quality of machine varies from brand to brand, so it is important to do your research and ask for expert advice. Our Cafetouch Bean-to-cup machines for example, range from £23 per week with a lease plan or for an outright purchase, a total payment of £4655. We will be covering the costs of all types of machines and purchase options in Chapter’s 1,2, 3 and 4.

3.    Convenience

Next, you will need to consider choosing a machine that requires minimal effort to clean and maintain, especially during the working day, when your employees will be expecting coffee on tap. Consider factors such as ease and speed of use when choosing a machine. Bean-to-cup machines are self-efficient, providing you with coffee at just the press of a button. You can find bean-to-cup machines that have automatic cleaning cycles notifying you of when it needs some TLC. Barista-style machines are relatively fast but require a professionally trained barista to operate and need to be clean after each use. It all depends on what your business needs are.

4.    Environmental Impact

It is important to consider how much of an environmental impact your chosen machine will have. Try to remain as eco-conscious as possible and consider which machine will have the most sustainable impact. Compile a list of factors to watch out for, including whether parts of the machine can be recycled or if they end up in landfill, how much water and electricity they require to operate and how much energy they use. Many bean-to-cup machines have smart energy systems and power off during periods of inactivity and on weekends when not in use.

Coffee machines which use capsules are the least sustainable, as the pods are generally non-biodegradable, whereas bean-to-cup machines can be switched off when not in use with parts of the machine recyclable, rather than having to be dumped in landfill. Bean-to-cup and barista-style machines are therefore at the top of the hierarchy when it comes to the most environmentally sustainable coffee machine, having the least environmental impact in comparison to instant, filter and capsule machines.

Bean-to-Cup Machines

The most popular demand of coffee machine for the office, is the bean-to-cup machine. A versatile, fast-working machine that can cater for up to sixty employees per day, offering up to 300 beverages and over six options of coffee, depending on the model of machine.

The goal of a bean-to-cup machine is to make fresh espresso beverages in a quick, convenient way. Bean-to-cup machines offer self-service coffee, without the need to be a professionally trained barista. Every machine has a control panel that allows you to adjust the settings and start/stop the coffee making process with an easy-to-navigate menu and touchscreen functionality. You can have one-touch espresso in the office and adjust the temperature, coffee strength and timing within seconds.

1.    Types of Machine

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  • Cafetouch 4600 – This machine has very impressive features and is top of our range, in terms of being a multi-functional bean-to-cup machine. It is stylish and offers a variable milk frothing system to ensure a superb and consistent coffee experience. It comes with up to 5 pre-selections and variables of coffee including mochas and lattes.
  • Cafetouch 3600 – This machine has a high-grade stainless-steel front and a self-service LCD display and one-touch system. It comes with 3 product canisters and the option of fresh milk and up to 12 different drinks options.
  • Cafetouch 4 Bean to Cup – A small, compact multimedia bean-to-cup machine offering up to 14 drinks selections. It comes with a hot-start heating system too with a visible bean hopper and 2 instant cannisters.
  • Hub 102  – A powerful machine with a customisable touchscreen, LED ingredient cannisters, a keyless operating system and provides up to 150+ drinks a day.

 

2.    Key Features to Consider

  • Milk Frothing System – Many bean-to-cup machines come with their own built-in milk frothing systems, for those a fan of milky drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes. This is ideal for those wanting to have their drink ready made for them, rather than having to be professionally trained to use a commercial barista machine.
  • Steam Wand – A steam wand can often be found on some older, more traditional models of bean-to-cup and barista machines. With a steam wand, you can froth your own milk using a separate jug and burst of steam, based on your own preferences.
  • Automatic Frothing – This system can be found on bean-to-cup and ground coffee machine by adding milk separately in a dedicated container, which then dispenses foamed milk directly into your cup.
  • Milk Frothing Accessory – A milk frothing accessory whisks and heats milk automatically and is often found on Nespresso and Lavazza pod machines or can be brought separately.
  • Milk Pods – These are found with capsule or pod machines, which are dispensed directly into your cup.

 

3.    Machine Functionality

  • Capacity – If you require a coffee machine that can serve a high volume of employees, then it is important you look for a model with a large water tank capacity of around 1.5 litres to prevent from having to refill constantly throughout the day.
  • Maintenance – Regular cleaning and descaling your machine will help to keep it working well for longer. Look for automatic cleaning programs with machines to make it easier to maintain in the long-term. If your machine needs to be cleaned manually, check whether the parts are easy to remove for cleaning and are dishwasher safe.
  • Smart Controls – Some coffee machines can be connected to your smartphone where you can monitor water levels, adjust temperature levels, create your own coffee recipes and access troubleshooting advice and maintenance alerts.
  • Automatic Grinding – Before coffee beans can be used to make espresso, they need to be finely ground. The benefits of a bean-to-cup machine is that it can grind coffee beans on demand whenever you want to make a coffee. You can also adjust the coarseness settings and grind new coffee for every cup.

 

Commercial Coffee Machines

Commercial coffee machines, also known as barista-style machines, have the capacity to manage well in fast-paced environments, such as cafes and restaurants, but can be used in the office too. Some employers prefer the option to use a commercial coffee machine, especially if they have someone that has the skills to operate the machine and can train their colleagues on how to use it, without needing to hire a barista. If you like the thought of grinding your coffee beforehand and being hands-on with the steam wand, to froth or steam your own milk, then a commercial coffee machine is top of the list.

Your office could soon be equipped with a brand new, commercial coffee machine that can provide you with the type of specialist beverages sold by cafes, hotels and niche coffee shops. Having a new coffee machine could help secure your businesses long-term reputation and improve productivity levels in the office and encouraging social interaction when it comes to making a speciality beverage. The size, scope and volume of your business is arguably the most important factor to consider, as it will determine the capacity of machine you need in your office. These types of machine are often available with either two, three or four groupheads which can produce up to eight drinks at a time. Machines with up to four groupheads will allow more staff to use the equipment at any given point, for example, if you have an urgent meeting and need a coffee boost or want to have your own barista competition in the office.

Two Groupheads

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A machine with two groupheads can create single or double shots of espresso and can be used to produce up to one beverage at a time, making it ideal for small office facilities, with fifty employees or less. Buyers can usually expect to pay between £1,200 and £1,500 for a high-quality commercial coffee machine with two groupheads. A Zircon 2 Group is a leading espresso machine that has two steam wands, a pre-infusion chamber and an auto back-flush group head. It is a small, compact espresso machine ideal for low volume use.

Three Groupheads

A machine with three groupheads like a La Spaziale S40 Selectron with a digital pressure sensor and STEM heating system, can produce between 150 and 250 cups each day, for medium to large volume use. Machines with three groupheads further offer additional benefits, while also including the standard features of a two grouphead machine. Additional features range from control and diagnostic features, to additional cleaning accessories, that allow you to fine tune your machine. 

Four Groupheads

A machine with four groupheads offer similar features to a machine with three groupheads. However, machines with four groupheads have an additional drink making capacity, serving up to 250 cups a day in high-volume environments. They are available for around £3,000 and can produce up to eight drinks simultaneously, while also featuring a large-capacity boiler, multiple steam tubes and electronic controls.  Many machines with four groupheads, is best suited to an office environment with over 100 employees to serve its full purpose.

Key Features to Consider:

  • Water Softener – Espresso coffee machines need a water softener to protect against limescale problems.
  • Automatic, Semi-Automatic or Fully-Automatic – Automatic espresso machines have pre-set buttons for dosage of water that goes through the coffee. Semi-automatic espresso machines have an on/off button to control the amount of water. Fully-automatic have functions that control cleaning, menu settings and are often in later models of machines.
  • Boiler Size – A bigger espresso machine usually has a bigger boiler system, which will give you steam power and a constant hot water supply for your coffee. A machine with one grouphead will have a boiler capacity of at least six litres, a two group around ten litres and a three group around fourteen litres.  
  • Steam Wands – Espresso machines with more than one grouphead will have the same amount of steam wands to match. A two group with have two steam wands for example, which is useful for making more than two beverages at a time. A steam wand with more than four holes will steam milk faster and is ideal if you are steaming a large jug of milk.
  • Twin Boiler or Heat Exchanger – Twin boilers and heat exchangers are practical when simultaneously extracting espresso and steaming milk at any one time. One boiler is dedicated to brewing while the other for steam production and helps keep brew temperatures stable. A heat exchanger has a single boiler for brewing water use, which is drawn through a tube inside the exchanger and channelled to the grouphead.
  • Cleaning System – Most espresso machines require a routine backflush procedure to prevent the build-up of residue in the groupheads. This is usually a manual process that requires you to remove the filter from the group handles and set these aside to soak in water. 

 

Funding Your Machine

Both bean-to-cup and commercial coffee machines can be purchased outright, or alternatively, you can set up your own individual lease plan to suit you and make monthly payments as you go. Opting to have a coffee machine in your workplace is like choosing a car, you can either test drive the coffee machine for a few months before deciding to own it outright, or you can make the purchase there and then. If you are thinking of a low-cost alternative for your business, then a bean-to-cup machine would be a better option in the short-term. 

There are additional costs involved with owning or leasing a commercial coffee machine, including buying specialist equipment for it, such as a fully-automated grinder to grind your coffee beans, milk jugs and cleaning products. Commercial coffee grinders can range in price depending on whether you are considering a lease plan or wanting to purchase it outright. When purchasing outright, the cost ranges from £300 to £1500. When leasing, you can spread your payments over 3 to 5 years, paying £7.50 or less a month depending on the type of grinder you choose. 

Leasing A Coffee Machine

Making monthly payments over a longer period allows you to budget your funds and is also a very tax efficient way of trying out a new coffee machine. The cost of leasing equipment is deductible from taxable income. A “Lease to Buy” or “Lease Rental” enables you to choose the best equipment for your needs without it affecting cash flow with an opportunity to own it outright at the end of the Lease period. In addition to this, you can also lease any specialist equipment needed and helps preserve your working capital. There are various budget options, with some machines costing less, and some costing more depending on the brand and model of machine, ranging between £2000 and £4000. 

Leasing a coffee machine means you will have less capital expenditure which will allow your money to go further and you will be able to spread the cost of your equipment over its useful working life. It gives you the chance, also, to invest in a higher quality coffee machine to handle the output of your business with manageable payments. There are various tax benefits too, with leasing rentals being 100% tax allowable and can be offset against your pre-tax profits during the lease period. If you are a VAT registered company, then you can reclaim the VAT monthly. 

Leasing is easy to budget for with each plan being a fixed agreement that will not be affected by changes in interest rate. This allows you to budget accordingly without worrying about cash flow. Our commercial coffee machines come with flexible lease terms and low-cost monthly payments to suit your business needs. You will have a quick payback period and the income generated from the coffee you can make quickly cover the lease amount. Coffee machines can also be rented through short-term agreements perfect for one-off events or conferences when buying equipment would be too expensive. Both renting and leasing can free up cash flow for other investments. 

Leasing Options

With a leasing plan, you can spread your payments over the course of between 3 to 5 years and at the end of your lease, if you decide you no longer want or need your coffee machine, you can give it back. Leasing plans are ideal for businesses that are financially stable and require a short-term solution to improving productivity in the workplace, without having to invest the total cost of owning the machine outright.

What A Lease Plan Includes:

  • Free installation
  • Full Account Management from day 1
  • Full training on operation and maintenance of the machine
  • Full maintenance and servicing when you buy your consumables with us
  • Free Delivery on Consumables Orders (over £100)
  • Next Day Technical Service

 

Buying A Coffee Machine 

There are many different advantages of buying a new coffee machine including that your product will be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll have the feeling of ownership over your brand-new machine and have no monthly fees to pay. The disadvantages incurred with buying a coffee machine is that once the warranty period is over, you will be left liable to pay repair fees and comes with expensive upfront costs. If you want a quick solution and can afford a coffee machine outright, then it makes sense to simply make the purchase there and then. 

In the long-term it is cheaper to purchase a coffee machine than it is to rent or lease them. We recommend that you draw up a budget scale beforehand, to ensure you have enough finances in the bank to purchase your chosen machine. If you feel your cash flow could be affected by purchasing outright, then consider setting up a lease plan so you can have your machine working instantly in the office to cater for your employees. 

Purchasing a coffee machine is a straightforward sale where your business can claim capital allowances against the purchase you make. The machine becomes yours and the sale is complete.

Outright Purchase Options

Purchasing a commercial coffee machine is simple and requires you to pay one lump sum to become the sole owner of the equipment. You will make an instant one-off payment and wait for an install date. With all new purchases you will be given full maintenance and servicing and at least one-year guaranteed warranty. The benefits of buying a coffee machine is that you are in complete control of what machine type and model you want to buy, it is a fast and straightforward process and you will have full ownership of the machine that will become your asset.

What A Purchase Plan Includes:

  • Free installation
  • Full Account Management from day 1
  • Full training on operation and maintenance of the machine
  • Full maintenance and servicing when you buy your consumables with us
  • Free Delivery on Consumables Orders (over £100)
  • Next Day Technical Service

 

Conclusion

Now you have weighed up all your options and explored the different ways of leasing or buying a commercial coffee machine for your business, it is time to start looking! We hope you have found this guide useful.