Beverage Machines Buying Guide

Beverage Machine

No restaurant, café, pub or bar is complete without exceptional beverage machinery. These are integral pieces of equipment and it is important to choose something which will give you the right capacity, longevity and of course, quality beverages. There are a number of beverage machine options available from large manual filled water boilers to tea and coffee machines, commercial kettles and specialist beverage machines.

It’s important to remember that hot beverage machines give excellent profit margins as the ingredients are low cost so your selling price should generate good revenue. As the margins are impressive, invest in premium quality equipment as you want your customers to enjoy their hot beverage and return to your establishment. There are plenty of different systems to investigate.

Coffee Machines


Choose from various options depending on your needs. Cafetieres are relatively simple systems but deliver great tasting fresh coffee, they are inexpensive and easy to operate and used on a daily basis in restaurants, cafes and hotels.  Cafetieres come in two different finishes, polycarbonate and heat-resistant glass.  The edges are generally gold toned, chrome or black rigid plastic and cafetieres come in various different sizes which is useful.  Have a large range of different sizes available because customers will order different quantities according to their party.  Cafetieres are easy to keep clean but are best suited to hand washing.

Espresso Coffee Machines

Choose from fully automatic espresso machines or semi-automatic, the latter needs to be operated by well-trained staff to get the perfect result which includes adding “crema” - the swirl on the top of Espresso coffee.  The automatic versions don’t need as much manual involvement but both these types of espresso machines need someone using them with a good amount of understanding and experience so the end result is always a high quality cup of coffee delivered quickly.  Choose an espresso coffee machine which is suitable to your needs so think about how much espresso is sold at your restaurant.  There are various options available some with more than one tap which helps when making multiple cups of coffee.

Pour and Serve

Found in many restaurants, and cafes, these are bulbous shaped jugs held in an electric unit.  Underneath the unit there is usually a second jug which is filled with hot water which mixes with the coffee to prepare a fresh batch.  The first jug sits on top and is kept warm via a heat pad.  This is used back of bar, in kitchens and on buffets.  Generally inexpensive this method provides a tasty cup of coffee but one word of caution, you shouldn’t allow the coffee to stay on the heat pad for longer than an hour as then it will stew so will not taste as fresh.  Pour and serve is excellent for small restaurants, cafes and pubs or where demand is not too great.

Filter Coffee Machines

Soluble machines use freeze-dried coffee and are inexpensive and convenient.  The small versions are best suited to small establishments such as cafes and pubs or small restaurants.  The bigger the machine, the faster it works.  Very large machines are suitable for fast food restaurants, large restaurants, airports, and large catering facilities.  Easy to operate, these deliver coffee direct into a portable urn and have a hot water tap.   Remember to buy the accessories such as filter paper which is essential for use with these products.


Blenders are important when mixing drinks, hot and cold such as smoothies and milkshakes.  Choose something that works fast and with a low noise-level so as not to interfere with customers if you have an open bar or area.  Think about what you want your blender to do for you, for example, there are plenty of machines available which can crush ice, create soups, create ice cream and frozen coffees, chop, puree, mix, whip and grind so if you need a multi-function machine choose wisely and look at the different programmes/blend cycles.

Milk Dispenser

For establishments which need large capacity milk on tap, a milk dispenser is the ideal solution.  These have a built in compressor which chills the product prior to dispensing.  Choose something which is easy to maintain and clean.  Look for removable drip trays and regularly clean these to avoid bacteria building up.  Easy to load, they are essential for breakfast buffets and large-scale catering facilities.  There are various size options available from 3 to 5 gallons.

Water Cooler

This is a staple product which is found in many places such as offices, conferences, schools etc. and delivers water on-tap.  There are many different floor-standing versions, cooling water to +8/+10 Deg C.  Depending on your needs, choose something with a tap or with a plastic cup dispenser.  Some of the available water coolers come with filtration systems which improve water quality removing sediment and bettering the taste quality.

Water Boilers

In order to have tea made quickly, boiling water needs to be available on-demand so a water boiler is important when large quantities are needed, for example, conferences, large restaurants with buffet service, catering for a banquet or function etc.  A water boiler is also useful for other hot drinks and for chefs requiring boiling hot water fast.  Think about the capacity you need to ensure the water boiler you purchase is right for your business. There are also wall mounted versions and twin taps when you need even faster supply – up to 60 litres per hour for example.  There are small versions available when the demand is not as great, for example compact 5 litres or medium sized 31 litres per hour.

Bulk Brewers

These coffee makers are essential for a large catering facility which needs to have plenty of coffee available quickly so for example, a hotel with breakfast service is usually one place you will find bulk brewers.  They are also used at conferences or in banqueting situations.  A bulk brewer is a system which is plumbed in and coffee is brewed using fresh coffee grounds and then held inside ready for dispensing into traditional coffee pots.


Many of aforementioned machines come with accessories which are important to the day to day running.  You might need to keep stocks of the following available:

  • Filter cartridges for water coolers if required.
  • Filter heads for espresso/coffee machines.
  • Wall brackets to hold certain beverage machines.
  • Glass jug for filter coffee machines.
  • Water meter to measure water use and test kit to test the water in a filter system (this indicates when cartridge needs changing).
  • Hot Plate to keep prepared coffee in a jug at the right temperature throughout service time.
  • Filter papers for filter coffee.
  • Airpot to keep your hot beverage stored.

Maintaining your Beverage Machine

Water Boilers

There are certain actions that need to be undertaken to maintain your beverage system, to keep it clean, hygienic and fully functioning,  For example in water boilers you will get limescale build-up which can affect beverage quality so it’s important to check the holding tank, heating elements and other areas of the machine.  There are water treatment systems available which remove limescale and if your establishment is in a hard-water area then regular maintenance is essential. 

Bulk Brewers

Plumbed in systems should have a specially fitted water treatment system fitted which should work in conjunction with the type of water locally. Take advice from a water treatment company and check with your water supplier on the quality of the local water as to whether it is hard or soft.

Espresso Machines/Coffee Machines

The areas where milk is stored are especially susceptible to germs and the steam wands must be kept meticulously clean.  It’s recommended they are cleaned every 5 to 6 hours and manufacturer guidelines adhered to, you might find that your chosen espresso machine has a self-cleaning cycle which is more apparent these days.

Points to Remember:

  • Train your staff to use your beverage system.
  • Get a water treatment system with your chosen equipment.
  • Think about the size of your facility and what you need to cope with the demand.
  • Clean any area of the machine in contact with milk.
  • Clean the drip tray thoroughly.
  • Make sure the machinery is cleaned every day.
  • Make sure any sugary spills are cleaned up or you run the risk of attracting pests.
  • Don’t use hard tap water in unplumbed equipment.
  • Never wash cafetieres in the dishwasher.

For further information visit the preparation equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team

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