Buying a new espresso machine is rarely an easy decision. It’s an important investment, and you want the best possible equipment for you and your coffee shop.
To help you with this decision, we reached out to Fabrizio Sención for his advice. Fabrizio came second in the World Barista Championship 2012 – so who better to tell us how to buy a new espresso machine?
Fabrizio is one of the owners of Palreal in Guadalajara, Mexico, and pulls his espresso shots on a Dalla Corte Mina. Here’s his advice for things you should look for in a new espresso machine.
Fabrizio Sención was the first runner-up in the World Barista Championship 2012. Credit: Dalla Corte
As coffee professionals, we strive for the perfect cup of coffee every single time. This means consistency is key – and the temperature stability of the water inside the espresso machine is an important part of that.
After all, if you’re making coffee with water of varying temperatures, the extraction is going to vary too.
This is one of the first things Fabrizio tells me. “I look for stable and consistent temperatures in the espresso machines. Due to the constant weather change here, and the different coffees we serve – 11 regions from Mexico – stable temperatures help us to serve consistent coffee.”
Temperature stability helps ensure consistent espresso extraction. Credit: Contraste Coffee Lab
Materials & Design
Fabrizio pays attention to the aesthetics of an espresso machine, but not just because he wants it to look good in the coffee shop. Some espresso machines have a more ergonomic design than others.
“The barista needs to feel comfortable when using the machine,” he says, “and also the steamer should be at the right angle for the milk steaming process.”
The quality of the materials matters too. Not only do you not want your espresso machine to look cheap, but you don’t want to have to replace parts or repair it too often either.
The Dalla Corte Evo2. Credit: Jorge Sotomayor
Measurement & Control
Fabrizio tells me that the espresso machine features should help the barista to use their time well, so that they can focus on communicating with the consumer.
He highlights the importance of espresso machines that can measure temperature, water flow, volume, espresso weight, and more. He tells me that, on his machine, he uses these measurements to better control extraction and consistency.
The more your espresso machine can control, the more control you’ll have over the final shot – without sacrificing customer service.
Fabrizio tells me that pre-infusion is one of his favourite features. Pre-infusing the puck can lead to less agitation when the water hits it with a full 9 bars of pressure.
Fabrizio finds that it also helps him create more consistent shots, especially with freshly roasted coffee. “Sometimes, I need to try coffees right after they are roasted,” he says, “and the pre-infusion helps me to get a consistent and good extraction even though the coffee is too fresh.” He also tells me it enhances different qualities in some of the darker roasts he’s served.
What’s more, he’s experimenting with longer espresso shot times – ones that are 34–35 seconds rather than the standard 25. There are differing thoughts on how pre-infusion should affect brew time for espressos. However, the ability to experiment and find the method that works best for you is a valuable tool.
The Dalla Corte Mina. Credit: Fabrizio Sención
Fabrizio tells me that your choice here is important, but that there is no right answer. It depends on the café’s needs.
A one-group machine, for example, gives small coffee shops more options when choosing where to place their espresso machine. A good workflow can increase efficiency and help avoid accidents.
However, a two-group or three-group machine will allow baristas to serve more customers at a time. And even if, for now, you think a one-group machine might be enough, what happens when your business grows?
A two-group espresso machine allows twice as many espressos to be made. Credit: Dalla Corte
Investing in great equipment is key for your coffee shop’s success. As coffee professionals, the right espresso machine will help us serve the best, most consistent espressos. And while it’s hard to know which espresso machine is best for our coffee shop, this guide will help us avoid a bad decision.
Please note: Dalla Corte is a sponsor of Perfect Daily Grind and was consulted in the creation of this article. They have received a courtesy copy of the article prior to publication but have exerted no editorial control over the final copy.
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