Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cafe / Coffee Shop Building Construction Requirements for Espresso Machines

The most critical element in cafe/coffee shop design is the set up for the espresso machine. Based on the differences between espresso machines , it would be wise to select an espresso machine sooner rather than later. 

As far as building requirements, the most important construction related aspect has to do with the espresso machine(s). There are some general guidelines you should take into account, but very specific requirements can’t be provided as Espresso Outlet has numerous different models from numerous different manufacturers. Specifications from the manufacturer tend to change frequently.

One of the requirement of every espresso machine is an electrical connection. In fact, each machine should have its own dedicated circuit. Without a dedicated circuit, you may cause breakers to blow or otherwise have interrupted operation. The type of connection depends on the machine selected. For a 110 volt/15 amp machine, a standard 110/120 volt power supply is sufficient. The plug should be 110 volt, 20 amp rating, three prongs, including a ground. For a 110 volt/20 amp machine, a standard 125 volt power supply is sufficient. The plug should be 125 volt/20 amp rating, three prongs, including a ground, on a cord that is NEMA configuration L5-20P. The plug should have three terminals, one of which should be horizontal. For the more likely, 220 volt machines, the electrical connection should generally be as follows:
  • Two group head machines need to have single phase power with a NEMA configuration L6-20 plug/20 amp dedicated circuit.
  • Three group head machines need to have single phase power with a NEMA configuration L6-30 type plug /30 amp dedicated circuit.

Another critical building requirement is a cold water supply line. This should within 48 inches of the machine, or directly below it. It is highly recommended that the water line going to the machine have a shut off valve. This will aid in maintenance, emergency, or serving situations. Depending on building codes in your area, the water line should also have a backflow preventer. To reduce excess pressure on machine components, a pressure reducer should be installed and set to a maximum of 40 LBs. The water connection for almost all commercial espresso machines is a 3/8 inch diameter water line. Consult with a plumber for state laws, etc.

Last but not least, is a drain – whenever possible, a floor drain. Each espresso machine usually has a drip tray that drains into a catch basin, which drains into a vinyl tube. The tube from the catch basin runs to the floor drain. This tube needs to be kept as steep as possible to prevent clogging – for every foot of hose that goes horizontal; the drain hose needs to drop one inch in the direction of the drain. Based on this configuration, the floor drain needs to be close enough to the machine to accommodate the steepness required.

Something that can benefit construction teams is specifications in technical manuals. Many of our machines have technical manuals linked to in the product descriptions, if the don't please contact us and we'll send one to you. 

What is a Automatic Espresso Machine?

The functionality and operation of an automatic espresso machine is similar to an semi-automatic espresso machine, with the main difference being the addition of programmable settings for the extraction process and the automation of the extraction process. After settings have been programmed, the extraction process starts with a press of a button and runs for a predefined time frame before stopping on it’s own. The programmable settings of the temperature, amount of water used, and extraction time allow the machine to create consistent shots each time the machine is run. 

What is a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine?

Semi-automatic espresso machines are the most popular type used by home users. They are easy to use, and with the right brand they can deliver outstanding espresso.

A semi-automatic espresso machine uses an electric pump to force heated water through finely ground espresso that has been compressed in a portafilter. The semi-automatic espresso machine was invented to reduce some of the physical effort and skill needed to operate a traditional hand lever operated machine. The machine is operated by first placing finely ground coffee in a portafilter and then compressing the coffee with a tamper to ensure that it is compact enough to create resistance when water is forced through the grounds, creating the pressure needed to properly extract espresso. After the portafilter has been mounted on the machine, the user can simply push a button or flip a switch to start the pump that will force preheated water through the grounds.

Most semi-automatic machines also have steam wands for frothing or steaming milk used in making cappuccinos, lattes and mochas. For people who like tea and other hot beverages, some models even have a built in hot water dispenser.

What is a Manual Piston Lever Espresso Machine?

The manual lever espresso machine is a traditional espresso machine that has a hand operated piston that is used to extract espresso. Lever operated espresso machines tend to have elegant designs and are popular with homeowners or businesses that appreciate design aesthetics and European tradition. Many fans of this type of machine also feel that they are unmatched in their ability to pull a perfect shot, although it can take some practice to reach this perfection. To produce the needed pressure for extraction, it can also require a decent amount of arm strength.

To operate the machine, the user must first allow the boiler to heat water to the proper temperature. Once the proper temperature has been reached, the user pulls the lever (usually in a downward motion) causing a piston in the machine to push the heated water through finely ground coffee that has been compressed in a filter. After the water has been pushed through the grounds, the user lifts the lever to complete the process. To pull a shot correctly, it takes practice to learn how much pressure to apply when pulling the lever. Once this has been learned, customer satisfaction with this type of machine tends to be very high.

Lever espresso machines, and especially the machines on this site tend to be very reliable and can last for many years with proper maintenance and minor repairs. 

I can't solve all your problems but I can promise to make you feel better. - Coffee