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What's the difference between an espresso machine and a bean to cup machine?

Beautiful espresso coffee machineWith a large range of coffee machines available, how do we decide which is best for us? Many people may look to purchasing a bean to cup machine for their business whereas others would opt for a traditional espresso machine. What are the advantages of each and which would be best for me?

An espresso machine is to be used by a barista and does not directly produce coffee, the drink is created by the skilled barista alongside a grinder and espresso machine. This means that we are grinding our coffee beans fresh, then tamping and extracting the shot through the machine. The milk is steamed alongside and then poured into the coffee allowing us to adorn our drink with beautiful latte art.

A bean to cup machine on the other hand, grinds the beans within the machine and extracts the shot, the milk is also prepared inside the machine and they are automatically poured into the cup and mixed.

It is evident a bean to cup machine cuts out the need for a skilled barista, at the push of a button we are presented with a drink. Although this may be a much easier method to produce a coffee, is this a better product and are we actually going to enjoy the resulting drink? A huge issue with these machines is the quality that is produced. Often the ingredients are sat for long periods and freshness can be an issue. Also, bean to cup machines can be expensive comparatively, not only to buy but also to maintain. There is a complicated computer on board and lots of tubes and wires. These mean that something is more likely to go wrong and again this may incur high costs of repair.

Another problem could be that we are not impressing our customers. How would you feel going into a coffee shop and the 'barista' presses a button and out comes a drink? The fact is we are not celebrating the art and beauty that is coffee in using a bean to cup machine. The more knowledgeable our customer base is becoming, the more they want to get involved and ask questions and see how their drink is produced. We want them to appreciate the skill required to produce a stunning coffee, it heightens their experience as a customer and they will remember that beautiful art that topped their drink.

In addition, an issue with bean to cup machines is that we are unable to customise the drink for our customer. The machine is pre-set to deliver a set amount of coffee and milk to make the drink required. If I were to order a half shot latte, or wanted a wet cappuccino, an espresso machine with a skilled barista would be able to meet my needs as a customer. A bean to cup would not allow for my personal preference, you wouldn't be giving me what I wanted.

Ultimately the customer is the most important factor in a coffee shop, we want them to have an experience they will remember, with a drink that has been customised to them. This means they will leave happy, spread the word about your shop and will come back to enjoy more wonderful coffee. Which of the machine types will allow us to do this to the best standard? We'll leave that for you to decide, or why not come to out training facility in Yorkshire and see how fun and exciting being a barista and using an espresso machine can be!

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