From single-serve coffee machines up to commercial, larger output models, the choices can seem limitless. Fortunately, when it comes to finding a model for your office, small business, school, retail shop or other fine establishment, understanding your own needs can go a long way in honing in on your prefect coffee solution.
So, let’s take a look at some of the choices available and find out what works best for your specific needs.
Coffee Machines for Small Office Use
There are many options at your disposal for small business use. Higher-end models, which often feature durable construction for both machine and carafe, can cost approximately $200 and may include interactive displays, automatic timers and adjustable brew strength (among many other features). But very basic models, like those you see in homes, can go for as little as $40.
The model you choose should depend upon the amenities you’d like, your budget and coffee consumption (in terms of volume). Some of the more expensive models can take up more space than bare-bones models; but, some of these have side-mounted controls, allowing you to turn the machine so that it takes up less space if that’s an issue.
There are a wide variety of office coffee makers, including pod coffee makers, automatic drip machines, espresso machines, and percolators. Here are detailed descriptions of some of the more popular coffee machines for small offices.
Automatic Drip Coffee Makers
These are the standard, tried-and-true machines that you see in countless homes, offices and businesses across the country–approximately 14 million automatic drip machines are purchased each year!. You know the drill: fill a chamber with water, load your coffee grounds into a filter, hit the on switch and watch as your brew filters into the awaiting pot. Larger models can normally make 10 to 12 cups at a time; smaller ones as little as 2 to 4 cups.
Common problems with using these machines in the office have to do with maintenance: when the last cup of coffee is poured, a new pot needs to be prepared–monitoring consumption is key! Burned coffee is another issue that happens when a pot sits on the burner too long (though some models have an automatic turn-off after 2 hours).
Brew tip: As a general guideline, use a coffee-to-water ratio of one to two tablespoons of coffee (depending upon how strong you like it) to every six ounces of water.
Pod Coffee Makers
Rapidly growing in popularity in recent years, pod coffee makers take the measuring, grinding and most of the cleaning out of making that special morning brew for the office. Once the water reservoir is filled, you simply place your coffee mug in the designated spot, open the top of the machine. insert a pre-filled coffee packet (pod) and press the top down. Then, just tap a button to brew your beverage in short order. Voila: great tasting, easy-to-make coffee!
The drawbacks? These machines tend to be more expensive, and since they make just one cup of coffee at a time, they could be a hassle for a group of 15 or so employees waiting to get their morning jolt of caffeine. In addition, you’ll need to purchase special coffee packet refills and these purchases can add up quickly.
Brew tip: Many manufacturers–and coffee afficionados–recommend using either filtered or bottled water, and making sure that the water is cold to get the best-tasting brew.
For those looking to add a little variety to their hot beverages or if you have employees who won’t drink drip-brewed coffee, espresso machines are an option. You’ll get a quickly made shot of espresso (or cappuccino or latte, etc.) with bold flavor. Two common types of espresso machines are steam machines (steam pushes hot water through the coffee grounds) and electric pump versions, which range from manual (you control everything) to completely automatic (the machine grinds the beans, makes your espresso and does everything else for you). Prices run the gamut from approximately $50 for the most basic machine up to $3,000 for a top-of-the-line maker.
The cons of espresso machines is that the ones that are the quickest and require the least maintenance are more expensive. Similar to pod coffee makers, they also can only make one drink at a time.
Quick tip: Look for very finely ground beans–about the consistency of table salt–in order to create the best-tasting espresso.
Coffee Machines for Large Offices & Businesses
For larger offices and businesses with many employees who enjoy a cup (or cups) of coffee in the morning, there are commercial-oriented coffee maker options to help keep the java flowing. Such products include:
- Larger brewing capacity coffee makers, which include models attached to a plumbing line (you won’t need to add water during the brewing process) and pour-over brewers (you add water into the top as you would with a smaller automatic drip coffee maker).
- Fancier plumbed coffee machines (built-in, plumbed and almost fully automated).
- Coffee urns.
Commercial Coffee Makers
Like the coffee makers you often see in your local diner or large restaurant, pour-over and larger brewing capacity systems (some of which are hooked into your water system) can include multiple warmers and coffee pots to go along with their large brewing capacities. Many of these products can cost several hundred dollars ($200 to $600, on average) with a few top-tier makers moving past the $1,000 threshold.
Certain varieties can brew close to four gallons of coffee per hour, which amounts to a grand total of approximately eight pots of coffee per hour for employees and customers alike. If you use a 12-cup capacity pot, you’ll get about 96 cups of coffee per hour. A conservative estimate is that you can serve between 16 and 20 people per gallon of coffee depending upon the cup size (either 6 or 8 ounces). Therefore, with a commercial machine that can make four gallons per hour, you may be able to serve between 64 and 80 people per hour.
So, if you’re a business or office with a good deal of employees, incoming clients, daily meetings and beyond, these brewers may work best–if you’re willing to make the necessary financial investment. And, many of these models come in space-saving designs and offer fantastic ease-of-use options.
Plumbed/Built-In Coffee Machines
Fancier plumbed coffee systems (i.e., more expensive makers with fully automated features) are basically built-in systems that are hooked up by a plumber or handyman. You don’t need to add any water (as it’s hooked into your nearby water supply line) and only need to add the coffee, set the brewer and let it do the work. And, many models allow for dual spouts, which pour two cups of coffee at the same time.
But this automation comes at a hefty price: Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars for one of these high-output, impressive coffee makers.
Coffee urns are the exception to high-price solutions for larger offices as they range in price from $30 to $150 (and sometimes higher), even though urn sizes include 40-cup, 60-cup and 80-cup brewing capacities. Urns look like they sound–vertically elongated pots with a spout near the bottom and handles near the top–and are great for large gatherings because they can make coffee rapidly, keep it nice and warm and allow drinkers to serve themselves at their leisure. Coffee urns tend to make approximately 10 to 20 gallons per hour, depending upon the machine. Based on a six-ounce coffee cup (one per person), you’ll be able to serve approximately 200 to 400 people every hour.
The drawback of an urn is that, like an automatic drop machine, it requires some maintenance in terms of monitoring and preparing a new batch for brewing.
There are many choices when it comes to coffee makers. Figure out your space requirements, how many people you’ll be serving on a daily basis, how much you’d like to pay and what features you’d like to have before making a potentially hefty payment on a coffee machine.