The Ultimate Guide to Choosing an Office Coffee Machine in 2021

Over the past 40 years, coffee has become an essential part of everyday life, and with the explosion of independent and chain coffee shops on the high street, our preference for premium quality coffee has only grown. Today, the office coffee machine does more than just provide hot drinks. It can help increase staff productivity rates, motivation and happiness levels, while also decreasing workplace stress, and is a worthy investment for any small- or large-scale business.

Long gone are the days of relying on a kettle and a jar of instant to provide you with a regular caffeine hit. New advancements in technology provide businesses that wish to serve better quality coffee with a whole host of choices. From bean-to-cup machines to traditional espresso machines, it can be difficult to know where to start 

That’s why our coffee experts have put together this step-by-step guide that will help you find the best coffee solutions for your business. With information on the various types of coffee machines available, the features you should consider, plus funding options and tips on how to care for your new machine, this guide includes everything you need when choosing an office coffee machine.

why coffee

Why Coffee?

The team at Liquidline 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. There are many different styles and forms of coffee and everyone’s personal preference is unique, but a modern commercial coffee machine can cater for all.

Things to Consider

Company Size

The size of your office will be a huge determining factor when it comes to selecting your new coffee machine. If you have less than 20 employees then a filter coffee machine would be sufficient – providing quality black coffee that can then be personalised with sugar and milk. For 20-50 employees we have a range of compact low-volume bean to cup machines that provide great coffee that’s also fantastic value. If you have over 200 employees, then a high-volume bean-to-cup machine with a quick dispense time should be right at the top of your list.

With a broad range of over 60 coffee machines it can be a bit daunting to choose the one that’s best for you, but don’t worry, because our team will provide recommendations for machines that can realistically meet the consumption and volume needs of your business.

Cost & Quality

Cost is also a key factor when deciding which machine to buy. Like many things in life, a higher price often means better quality, but this isn’t always the case. Many of our machines provide fantastic value for money. The Coffetek Vitro S1 for example is one of our best-selling bean to cup coffee machines. It provides up to 60 cups of premium coffee per day, with users able to choose from 8 different speciality drinks selections, and costs from just £10.50 per week.

Convenience

Next, you will need to consider ease of use and dispense time. For larger offices especially it’s essential you have a machine that is easy to use and dispenses coffee quickly, to avoid any queues building up at peak times such as first thing in the morning and lunchtime. 

Bean-to-cup machines are ideal for self-service, providing you with coffee at just the press of a button. You can also find bean-to-cup machines that have automatic cleaning cycles notifying you of when it needs some TLC, meaning cleaning and maintenance time is kept to a minimum. 

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

Environmental Impact

It is best business practice 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 is most sustainable. 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.

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

bean to cup coffee machine

Bean-to-Cup Machines

The most popular type of coffee machine for the office is undeniably the bean-to-cup machine. A versatile, fast-working coffee machine that can cater for hundreds of employees per day, offering up to 300 beverages and countless beverage options, 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.

Our Favourite Bean to Cup Models

Best for Value – Coffetek Vitro S1

Designed to impress, the small but mighty Vitro S1 serves a variety of high-quality espresso-based drinks. This compact machine can fit in the tightest of spaces and is easy to use, maintain and clean.

Best for Millk Foam – Schaerer Soul

The exquisite Schaerer Soul offers your favourite coffee shop speciality coffees without the need for a trained barista. With 200 drink configurations and a Best Foam milk system that creates creamy milk foam with a smooth, silky white finish you’re sure to please everyone with this machine.

Best for Small Offices – Jura WE6

The Jura WE6 is designed for speciality coffee lovers in a smaller, low-volume commercial setting. The state-of-the-art pulse extraction process optimises the extraction time for the ultimate aroma, whilst an innovative fine foam frother produces beautiful peaks of smooth white milk foam. 

Best for Big Offices – Scherer Club

A slim, stylish bean to cup coffee machine that’s perfect for busy teams. This highly efficient machine is easy to use and maintain, providing high quality, freshly ground espresso-based beverages that your team and visitors will love.

Other Features to Consider

Milk Frothing System

Many bean-to-cup machines come with their own built-in milk frothing systems for those who are 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.

LED Screen

Many bean-to-cup machines come with their own integrated LED touchscreen for self-service use. They are easy to navigate your way around, choose what type of coffee you prefer and what size you would like.

Bean to Cup Coffee 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 or more 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 within 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 benefit of a bean-to-cup machine is that it can grind fresh coffee beans on demand whenever you want a coffee, preserving the flavour and aroma. You can also adjust the coarseness settings and grind new coffee for every cup.

Traditional coffee machine

Traditional Espresso Machines

Traditional espresso machines, also known as barista-style machines, have the capacity to manage well in fast-paced environments, such as cafés and restaurants, but can be used in the office too. Some employers prefer the option to use a traditional espresso machine, especially if they have someone in-house 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 traditional espresso machine is for you.

Your office could soon be equipped with a brand new, barista-style coffee machine that can provide you with the type of specialist beverages sold by cafés, hotels and niche coffee shops. Having a new coffee machine could help secure your businesses long-term reputation, improve productivity levels in the office and encourage 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 the machine you need in your office. These types of machines are often available with either two, three or four group heads which can produce up to eight drinks at a time. Machines with up to four group heads 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 Group Heads

A machine with two group heads can create single or double shots of espresso and can be used to produce 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 group heads. An Exobar Zircon 2 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 Group Heads

A machine with three group heads 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 group heads offer further additional benefits, while also including the standard features of a two group head machine. Additional features range from control and diagnostic to additional cleaning accessories that allow you to fine-tune your machine. 

Four Group heads

A machine with four group heads offers similar features to a machine with three group heads. However, machines with four group heads have 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. Espresso machines with four group heads are 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.

Automation

Automatic espresso machines have pre-set buttons for the 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 machines have functions that control cleaning, menu settings and are often in later models of machines.

Boiler Size

Bigger espresso machines usually have bigger boiler systems, which will give you steam power and a constant hot water supply for your coffee. A machine with one group head 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 group head will have the same amount of steam wands to match. A two-group will have two steam wands for example, which is useful for making two or more 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 group head.

Cleaning System

Most espresso machines require a routine backflush procedure to prevent the build-up of residue in the group heads. 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.

how to finance your coffee machine

Funding Your Machine

Both bean-to-cup and professional espresso machines can be purchased outright, or alternatively, you can set up your own individual lease plan to suit 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 traditional espresso 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 £1,500. 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 dramatically 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, which 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 the 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 as leasing rentals are 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 as well.

Leasing is easy to budget for with each plan including a fixed agreement that will not be affected by changes in interest rates. 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.

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 Liquidline 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 disadvantage incurred with buying a coffee machine is that once the warranty period is over, you will be left liable to pay repair fees that come 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 purchase you will be given full maintenance and servicing and at least a one-year guaranteed warranty. The benefits of buying a coffee machine are 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 Liqudiline Purchase 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! Use our handy machine finder tool that provides recommendations based on a few simple questions or speak to our team today for a free, no-obligation consultation.