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Help me select my gear

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  • Help me select my gear

    Hi All. I am setting up a coffee shop and am selecting my equipment. I expect to go through 2 kg to 3 kg / day. I'm no expert barista (yet), so need a bit of help.

    My choice for the espresso machine is the Expobar Ruggero mainly because it gets good reviews, is fairly well priced and looks bloody fantastic. Are there other machines in thes same kind of price range that I should consider ($5k to $10k)? Next, based on 2 kg to 3 kg / day, should I get the 2 GR or 3 GR? Finally, there are 2 versions of the Ruggero, heat-exchanger or multi-boiler. The multi-boiler is a grand or two more. Is it worth the extra expense? I want to offer my customers excellent espresso, but will only pay the extra money if it will make a significant enough difference that my customers will notice it.

    Next, for the grinder. I'm liking the Mazzer Kony Automatic. Based on 2 kg to 3 kg / day would you expect that to be the grinder I need or should I look at the Robur?


  • #2
    Always a touchy issue when someone comes along wanting to set up shop and who doesn't have much, if any, experience.

    On what do you base your expected output? 3kg/day is actually 50% more coffee than 2kg/day ..... a fairly wide range.

    It's rare for coffee machines to get bad reviews published.... if you were given a machine to review, would you dis it, publicly, then expect someone else to give you a machine
    to review? = Short career in machine reviewing.

    For the most part coffee output peaks at one two or three times a day depending on your opening hours.
    Will you be open for breakfast when people want their coffee now, not in ten minutes while you wait for the steam boiler to recover temp?

    Do you expect to be slammed mid-morning? Will you be serving lunch? 5/6/7 days a week? do you expect growth in coffee sales? >5kgs day?

    Choosing a suitable machine doesn't depend on looks, some of the best look retro 60's ( LM Linea ), some look avant-garde and retro at the same time ( Kees ).

    Choose a machine that will cope with your peak demand and not have you standing around waiting..... then 3kgs/day will quickly become 2kgs/day.

    There are more questions posed by your post than can be answered.

    If you were paying me for advice I would suggest either a 'built like a tank" 20 amp single boiler HX.

    Or a "built like a tank" 20 amp dual boiler. I know of two Ruggeros locally.....

    One, a multi boiler, had to be reconfigured from 15 amp to the 20 amp element 'cos it couldn't cope with demand 3 months after opening.... and still can't,
    the other ticks over a small country town cafe. They are a decent machine but there are others to consider. More than one cafe has chosen a machine then had to replace it
    within months 'cos of demand. Expensive, but you've got to start somewhere and there are plenty of ways to skin a cat?

    Choosing a grinder ....... try your coffee on a couple of grinders, Major, Kony, Robur, Mahlkoenig, then choose your grinder according to the taste that best represents
    what you want in the cup. Or you could narrow it down to Major or Robur..... flat vs. conical.

    Don't take anything I've said as gospel but just as part of the conversation, others will chip in their bit.


    • #3
      I'm all for successful private enterprise, so I wish you good luck with your new venture. What caught my attention was your remark "I'm no expert barista (yet)", which raised several questions that I ask with good intentions and hopefully without causing offence:

      1. Not an expert barista - Are you sure you will be able to make coffee in a high-pressure situation? I make a nice cup of coffee at home but I don't seriously think I could sustain production in a fast-paced setting 5-7 days per week, notwithstanding the boutique nature of my equipment.
      2. How do you know that a coffee shop is for you? Have you worked in a similar business before?
      3. How do you propose to acquire the skills?
      4. Given that coffee shops are not exactly novel or rare, how will your coffee shop be differentiated from the vast number of coffee shops that already exist or will exist in future?
      5. Why would a guest return to your shop or recommend it to a friend?

      I suspect that if you can honestly answer to yourself questions like these then you could be on a path to success.


      • #4
        I think Chokkidog has written an excellent post particularly his reference to peak periods....., but really........don't you think you should be talking with your coffee supplier about what he (she) might recommend for equipment? Also no point in selecting gear that may not have a service agent with the usual spare parts close by with same day service.

        In a "level playing field" type scenario (volume spread relatively evenly through the day), 3 kg a day doesn't need any more than a two group machine but.....

        Talk to your coffee need his help.


        • #5
          Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
          Don't take anything I've said as gospel but just as part of the conversation, others will chip in their bit.

          Thanks for all that, VERY helpful. Due to the particularities of my chosen trading location, I expect a pretty flat curve with a continuous stream of customers and few extreme peaks, if any at all. I could be wrong however, and based on your comments, think the 3GR multi-boiler with upgraded heating elements is the way to go. Better to spend a couple K more now that have to buy a complete new machine after 6 months because the machine's just not up to the task.

          Originally posted by ax72 View Post
          I suspect that if you can honestly answer to yourself questions like these then you could be on a path to success.

          Thanks, and appreciate the concerns. I am however approaching this as a business opportunity and not as a hobby barista wanting to make a living from something I enjoy. I spotted a very special location with a huge captive audience and no other options for food or beverage anywhere. I then did some thorough market research that tells me the coffee shop will be profitable even using overly conservative figures. Finally, I have negotiated an exclusivity deal and I will not have to worry about direct competition for as long as I am operating.

          It's the opportunity that has created this project, not the other way around.

          As for making good coffee under pressure, not a concern. I already make what I consider to be an excellent espresso at home and I will be doing all the training to hone those skills. Only practice can teach you to do that same thing under pressure. I also have no intention of spending my life behind the espresso machine either and will have at least one or two other baristas sharing the duties. I'll just have to make sure I have good staff.

          Originally posted by TOK View Post
          Also no point in selecting gear that may not have a service agent with the usual spare parts close by with same day service.

          Thanks, that is a very important point that I had overlooked. I'll call around to day and make sure there is a local service agent for Expobar. If there isn't, I will look at other brands. I definitely don't want anything that can't be fixed right away when it's broken.


          • #6
            The best cafés I have been to have more than one grinder because they choose beans according to what the customer wants. Beans good for black coffees often have their flavour swamped by the milk added to lattés or capps, so that would be 2 grinders dialled in to the choice of bean.

            A vastly underserviced market is decaf drinkers - most places will not spend the small amounts required to waste a few beans while they build the customer base and so decaf drinkers tend to get pre-ground, stale beans that give an undrinkable stew - grind your decaf fresh and you could capture a market share right there. So that's a 3rd (albeit smaller) grinder as well.

            If you have plans that could get you market share in your location (as above, why would people buy from you instead of the other cafés around?) then buy larger than what you think you will be doing. Again, as above, you need to plan for peak load, not average load. Fail to make coffees at reasonable pace and people will not come back - many customers have maybe 5 minutes to get a coffee, so if you make them wait 10 they will go somewhere to get it faster. They want quality (and yes, many of them have zero concept of what quality is ) but they have other expectations as well.


            • #7
              Looks like you at least have some perspective on your undertaking..... I hope you can translate that into success!

              In what state/region are you located? Do you have a coffee supplier yet?

              98% ( +/- ) of your output will be milk based. Do you intend to be a 'specialty' coffee shop? Be wary of trying to be something you're not.....
              customers have the knack of seeing through that type of facade.

              I have yet to be asked for decaf from any of my clients, (after 2&1/2 years) ....tying up capital and bench space with idle gear could cost you way more than
              a couple of lost sales.

              Business 101 is the rule of turnover, cash-flow and the cost of wastage; run a tight ship and you might make it.

              It also might allow you to expand your operation later.

              p.s. In relation to your machine choice............. don't settle on any one machine until you have seen, tried, talked about and compared more than one.

              If you are set on your choice at least compare it to an LM Linea.

              Seek advice!! TOK is right!!


              • #8
                Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                I have yet to be asked for decaf from any of my clients, (after 2&1/2 years) ....tying up capital and bench space with idle gear could cost you way more than a couple of lost sales.
                Could be chicken and egg - which came first, the lack of decent decaf or decaf drinkers not bothering to ask? There's obviously plenty of decaf drinkers around or roasters wouldn't roast it, so maybe the first café in an area to invest and stick up a "Fresh Ground Decaf" gets the market?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                  In what state/region are you located? Do you have a coffee supplier yet?
                  I'm in south west WA. I will not be commencing operations until September so have not spoken to the coffee supplier yet. I am pretty confident of which one I will be using though simply because I love their product as do many others.

                  Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                  If you are set on your choice at least compare it to an LM Linea.
                  The Linea seems to be very popular... I just can't get over the very "plain" styling. I want the machine to be a show piece that gets people talking. Many may say that it is unwise to look at it from that angle, but I have to disagree. From a purely business aspect, getting noticed is half the battle won. And the way my cafe is designed, everyone walking past will see the machine. I would get a KvdW Spirit Triplette, but I'm finding it difficult to convince myself to gamble that much cash before knowing my market research was sound and my cafe will be a success... The Ruggero is my current choice because it has striking looks and at the same time, only costs half the price of a hatchback. I'm also yet to find a negative review about it.


                  • #10
                    If you can find a genuine, negative review about any of the popular machines post it or pm me,
                    They are say the least!


                    LM GB5? KvdW Mirage? Ruggero.... striking???? ;-D

                    The Linea might be 'plain' but has it's design roots firmly in the 60's. So it's retro rather than plain?

                    Looks are one thing but good, consistent coffee will bring repeat customers and build your reputation more than some bright red plastic.
                    I won't say anymore about machines except to encourage you to make a considered choice.

                    The decaf question is interesting. From an 'other side of the counter' perspective it's hardly a drop in the ocean.
                    Many 'high end' coffeeshops don't provide Dc on the basis that good ones are rare and having so-so coffee is a compromise not taken.

                    One roaster I know in Melbourne who does about 3-400 kgs a week roasts 1 x 5kg batch of decaf...<2%.

                    But it's something I'll ask more about and see what sort of figures show up and I'll let you a matter of

                    As for me.... when I get asked..... I'll roast it. ;-D


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chokkidog View Post
                      Actually, Fiori.


                      • #12
                        At least 75% of my commercial customers buy and serve decaf and it even happens to be one of my biggest retail sellers as well.


                        • #13
                          Triplettes look nice but it's the coffee I care about.

                          I've seen plenty of fancy machines driven by wanna be staristas that fail to deliver.

                          I've had excellent coffee from an aging Boema in a country town back street.

                          Quality food and drink bring customers back not fancy fittings.


                          • #14
                            Cool Vinitasse, thanks for posting that.

                            Only one of the three green importers/wholesalers that I use even have a decaf.

                            A couple of my clients have talked about a second grinder....... but not for decaf, SO's instead.

                            I also do 3 markets, I have been asked for decaf once. I ordered it in, roasted 2.5 kgs, sold 500gms, used a bit myself to check it out
                            (thumbs up) ...... threw the rest out after 2 weeks. :- ( ..... ;-)

                            I guess my view, in terms of the OP, is that unless a market is apparent overcapitalising may eventuate.

                            I'm not anti decaf at all and don't mean to throw a bucket of cold water over the idea!


                            • #15
                              We do a little decaf (to order).

                              My opinion is that coffee companies should refuse to supply cafes with pre-ground rubbish which passes for decaf and should actually be labelled as compost.

                              Running a grinder for decaf is not an option, it's a given and in my opinion, this should happen before any origin offer, not after. If cafes are not prepared to do it, they can purchase a convenience store, use a superauto and sell $1 coffee instead.