Bean to Cup vs Espresso Machine

Posted by Catherine Gray on 31-May-2022 14:53:31
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Are you looking to invest in a new coffee machine for your workplace? Trying to decide whether to go for a bean to cup machine or a traditional espresso machine?

It’s a tough decision. Both machine types have their pros and cons and their strengths and weaknesses.

Fortunately, we are experts in coffee and have helped hundreds of businesses make this decision. We would be happy to help you with your decision too.

First, let’s provide a little background on each type of coffee machine.


What is a bean to cup coffee machine?

A bean to cup coffee machine provides a complete solution, from grinding roasted beans to dispensing a hot steaming cup of delicious coffee.

A bean to cup coffee machine has a canister on the top where you add the roasted beans. Those beans are then measured to provide the right strength coffee and ground within the machine, an expresso is then made under pressure and finally the milk is prepared and added depending on your drink selection.  Some bean to cup machines can also add syrups for flavoured coffee and even create cold milk speciality coffees.

The process is fast, efficient and delivers the freshest coffee possible from a machine.

Partner a bean to cup coffee machine with the right beans and you could genuinely deliver a barista-quality coffee. From a machine.

What is an espresso machine?

An espresso coffee machine works differently and more closely resembles the coffee shop experience - at least in terms of noise and theatre. 

You need a Barista to make the coffee. They will grind the beans separately and then use the traditional machine to make the espresso. The compressed ground beans  are called a puck or cake. The puck is placed within the coffee machine and hot water is run through it at high pressure.

The machine does not add milk, that needs to be done separately too.  

So preparing a coffee through a traditional machine really is a labour of love, although nowadays there are parts of the process that can be automated such as controlling the volume of coffee and even the milk foaming. 

As we mentioned in the introduction, there are pros and cons to all types of coffee machines, including bean to cup.

Let’s discuss them now.

Double espresso - Oct 17Pros of a bean to cup coffee machine

Pros of a bean to cup coffee machine include:

Very easy to use and requires very little training. Add the beans, select the type of coffee and the bean-to-cup machine does all the hard work for you.

Range of drink options. A bean to cup coffee machine will deliver the full range of coffees that you can expect in a coffee shop, from espresso to flat white, macchiato and everything in between. Some can include syrup dispensers, milk wands and frothers and can even deliver cold milk to cater for a wide variety of tastes.

Can deliver a range of coffee beans. Some bean to cup coffee machines offer two and even three grinder options which means  you can offer different beans. 

Can deliver a range of milk foam types. There are machines that offer different kinds of milk foam from regular foam, to a dense creamy foam, and you can adjust just how dense and creamy that foam is!

Consistent results every time. A bean to cup coffee machine weighs beans precisely, always uses the same pressure and always delivers exactly the same quality all day, every day.

Accessibility. A bean to cup coffee machine can deliver drinks at the press of a button. Ideal for environments where you don't want staff and customers to be handling hot water.

Almost hands-free. A bean to cup coffee machine can be grinding and making your coffee while you’re doing something else like answering a call or chatting to colleagues.

Cons of a bean to cup coffee machine

Cons of a bean to cup coffee machine include:

Often more expensive than an espresso machine. As bean to cup machines are more complex, they are often more expensive.

Requires more space, notably in terms of height. A bean to cup coffee machine often requires more height clearance than an espresso machine as access is needed to the hoppers. This can prove a challenge in kitchens where cupboards are put overhead. Top Tip - if you’re planning to have a coffee machine in a kitchen, leave the space above the machine clear. 

Can be noisy. The grinding process can be noisy in smaller spaces. Albeit usually less noisy than a traditional set up.

csr-hero-03The pros and cons of an espresso machine

Espresso machines also have their strengths and weaknesses which should be borne in mind when making a decision.

Pros of an espresso machine

Pros of an espresso machine include:

Authentic barista experience. An espresso machine is the traditional solution for making espresso-based drinks.

You’re in control. An espresso machine is not automatic, so you can control the strength, depth of flavour and intensity of your espresso on an individual basis.

Cheaper than bean to cup machines. Espresso machines, on average, are cheaper than bean to cup machines.

Simpler and easier to maintain. As espresso machines aren’t automatic, there are typically fewer moving parts.

Cons of an espresso machine

Cons of an espresso machine include:

Requires a Barista to operate. There is technique required to get the best out of an espresso machine and to make them work in a commercial environment you need a trained Barista to work them.

Not as consistent as bean to cup. As you’re making espresso by hand, it won’t be quite as consistent as an automatic machine. Your coffee is only as good as your Barista.

Takes more time to deliver coffee. An espresso machine will take slightly longer to deliver a cup of coffee as you have to add the grounds, tamp them down in the puck, empty the puck afterwards and prepare it for the next cup.

A manual process. While making a coffee by hand at home can be a pleasure, making it by hand at work is something else. It costs in terms of time, productivity and effort, which doesn’t always resonate well with staff.

Waiter making cup of coffee at counter in kitchen at cafx92xA9Bean to cup vs Espresso machine – The verdict

It isn’t our intention to tell you what to buy, but there is a definite winner in the bean to cup vs espresso coffee machine battle.

The bean to cup machine.

An espresso machine would work perfectly in the home where you have the time to make coffee manually as part of a morning ritual.

In a workplace, the bean to cup delivers a more efficient experience while delivering the same quality flavour.

Bean to cup machines are also more flexible, easier to use and provide many more drinks options. All while being faster and easier for staff to use.

Contact Roast & Ground today for expert advice on choosing the perfect office coffee machine.

Topics: Office Coffee Machines, Bean to Cup Office Coffee Machine, bean to cup, Rex Royal Coffee Machines

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