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  • Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

    Originally from Adelaide I have been a coffee fanatic for 6 years. I started on a Gaggia factory lever machine and upgraded to  La Scala Butterfly HX.

    I moved to Phuket Thailand 15 months ago and it has been a great place to live. I came here with a job as a lawyer..something I have done for the past 17 years. I have long had a dream to have a café and when I quit my job a month ago and met a guy who wants to open a café my dream started to become a reality. It looks like we will open a new place in around late March. We are also considering roasting.

    I realize I have a lot to learn. I have undergone a couple of training sessions on commercial machines and done a lot of research. Phuket does not have any decent cafes and little by way of coffee culture. There are no roasters here and I source my beans from Bangkok. I believe there is great potential here with many expats and tourists complaining that good coffee is no where to be seen.

    I apologise for the long winded background, but this is the reason I am seeking some help with choosing a 2 group commercial coffee machine. Phuket has only one serious distributor that I am aware of. They stock and sell La Marzocco Linea 2 group. I received a quote on the auto model for just under 10,000 Aust dollars…not sure what the prices would be down under. I have asked whether they stock the semi auto and paddle versions and would like to hear the pros and cons of each of these.

    I am aware that la Marzocco is one of the premier brands available. I am prepared to spend the money if the quality justifies it ahead of other brands. The other machines sold by this company are Saeco and Brasilia. Although there is no where near the choice and range available in Australia, there are other distributors in Bangkok (but not in Phuket) selling machines which may also be of interest to me. They include:

    Expobar - Elegance
    Wega - Atlas, Nova and Polaris
    Rancillio - Epoca, 6S,6E, 8S, 8DE,10E
    Bezzera - Ellisse
    Reneka - (a number of 2 group models sold by friend and roaster in Bangkok. She swears by quality and great temp control stability but again problem that she is in Bangkok)
    La Scala - Eroica

    I understand that service and parts is an important issue. The dealer in Phuket seems to service all machines locally, but I suppose they would have more expertise and familiarity with machines sold by them as opposed to other brands that I might acquire from Bangkok. If so this also weighs in favor of the LM Linea.

    Any opinions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

    Originally posted by 3F3A353522335B0 link=1259804855/0#0 date=1259804855
    Originally from Adelaide I have been a coffee fanatic for 6 years. I started on a Gaggia factory lever machine and upgraded to  La Scala Butterfly HX.

    I moved to Phuket Thailand 15 months ago and it has been a great place to live. I came here with a job as a lawyer..something I have done for the past 17 years. I have long had a dream to have a café and when I quit my job a month ago and met a guy who wants to open a café my dream started to become a reality. It looks like we will open a new place in around late March. We are also considering roasting.

    I realize I have a lot to learn. I have undergone a couple of training sessions on commercial machines and done a lot of research. Phuket does not have any decent cafes and little by way of coffee culture. There are no roasters here and I source my beans from Bangkok. I believe there is great potential here with many expats and tourists complaining that good coffee is no where to be seen.

    I apologise for the long winded background, but this is the reason I am seeking some help with choosing a 2 group commercial coffee machine. Phuket has only one serious distributor that I am aware of. They stock and sell La Marzocco Linea 2 group. I received a quote on the auto model for just under 10,000 Aust dollars…not sure what the prices would be down under. I have asked whether they stock the semi auto and paddle versions and would like to hear the pros and cons of each of these.

    I am aware that la Marzocco is one of the premier brands available. I am prepared to spend the money if the quality justifies it ahead of other brands. The other machines sold by this company are Saeco and Brasilia. Although there is no where near the choice and range available in Australia, there are other distributors in Bangkok (but not in Phuket) selling machines which may also be of interest to me. They include:

    Expobar - Elegance
    Wega - Atlas, Nova and Polaris
    Rancillio - Epoca, 6S,6E, 8S, 8DE,10E
    Bezzera - Ellisse
    Reneka - (a number of 2 group models sold by friend and roaster in Bangkok. She swears by quality and great temp control stability but again problem that she is in Bangkok)
    La Scala - Eroica

    I understand that service and parts is an important issue. The dealer in Phuket seems to service all machines locally, but I suppose they would have more expertise and familiarity with machines sold by them as opposed to other brands that I might acquire from Bangkok. If so this also weighs in favor of the LM Linea.

    Any opinions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Good to see people in a position to move outside of their so called comfort zone..

    1: None of us ever stops learning...

    2: Dont apologise... The background is very usefull to any of those that might be in a position to assist..

    3: Service / Support... Ya that and ya Green beans and ya roaster will all be a steep learning curve and have an impact on ya product and delivery of said product.. Next you will start growing

    I would email some of teh sponsors directly.... There are any number that would have had some experience / exposure OS either privately or from a commercial venture.. Not to say that offers from the left or right dont end up on the table at some stage..

    The reason for the direct e-mail is that not all monitor or read the CS forums... But they will be the ones that are better able to assist..

    My 2cents worth..

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

      Have you thought about looking at the local auctions(if there is such a thing) for repod machines?

      Im thinking your not so worried about price as you are parts and backup service but you may find a La Maz for half the price giving you 5k to put towards a roaster?

      Just a thought

      OH! and ill gladly fly over there and train you in the art of professional coffee preperation for the nominal fee ;D

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

        Hi Danny,

        As a CS sponsor, my recommendation would be that you buy new and locally. You need service backup if and when its required. Its rare that a 2nd hand LM will come up and if so, its probably had a tough life in a cafe. You may be buying a box of problems. Australian prices are identical for paddle group LM and volumetric and its a no brainer for me- paddle all the way. The LM is way superior to any of the others in your short list.

        As for a roaster, once comissioned, theyre pretty simple and you may have to import one. Motors and fans are easy to replace. Important though is good and compliant gas and power. If there is not a local dealer of good roasters, site sponsor Coffee Roasters Australia do excellent gas and electrical work on their range of Garanti roasters. We are their Melbourne agent and I know that Mark could arrange a roaster for you in Phuket.

        Its fantastic that there might finally be good coffee in Phuket. It would make me want to visit! Also happy to provide training if you require it. Would be a great business trip...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

          Originally posted by 52676A6D59456960606363060 link=1259804855/3#3 date=1259910789
          Hi Danny,

          As a CS sponsor, my recommendation would be that you buy new and locally. You need service backup if and when its required. Its rare that a 2nd hand LM will come up and if so, its probably had a tough life in a cafe. You may be buying a box of problems. Australian prices are identical for paddle group LM and volumetric and its a no brainer for me- paddle all the way. The LM is way superior to any of the others in your short list.

          As for a roaster, once comissioned, theyre pretty simple and you may have to import one. Motors and fans are easy to replace. Important though is good and compliant gas and power. If there is not a local dealer of good roasters, site sponsor Coffee Roasters Australia do excellent gas and electrical work on their range of Garanti roasters. We are their Melbourne agent and I know that Mark could arrange a roaster for you in Phuket.

          Its fantastic that there might finally be good coffee in Phuket. It would make me want to visit! Also happy to provide training if you require it. Would be a great business trip...
          Thanks for the responses. I have had a quote for LM Linea which machines and the dealer says with a significant discount. Importantly this dealer has a branch in Phuket and seems to be the only local serious coffee machine dealer in Phuket.

          2 group Linea: $7418
          3 group Linea: $8417
          GB/5:$10,580

          The importer has said thay do not import paddle...I will ask whether they can but first I would need to understand the respective advantages of Auto, Semi Auto and Paddle as well as Linea V GB5...would be greatful for more advice there  .

          Regarding the roaster unfortunately my knowledge is even less and I certainly intend doing a course in both roasting and cupping. There is one local manufacturer of roasting machines but I am unable to find any reviews by other users. Their quote for a machine with 12 kg batch ccapacity is $10,000. I dont know how that compares with overseas prices. My guess is that the quality would not be as good as overseas, so I do need to check the cost of importing and local taxes. If that is the way to go I will definitely be in touch with Aust CS sponsors.

          CS members are always welcome to contact me if coming to Phuket...its a great place to visit. I dont have many people to talk coffee with here!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

            Originally posted by 5E5B545443523A0 link=1259804855/4#4 date=1259928391
            The importer has said thay do not import paddle...I will ask whether they can but first I would need to understand the respective advantages of Auto, Semi Auto and Paddle as well as Linea V GB5...would be greatful for more advice there  .
            The Linea is available in three configurations; EE, AV and paddle.  The GB5 is available in EE and AV, though it wouldnt surprise me if there were a paddle version in the works.  The AV version is the volumetric version and the volumetric setup usually costs a few thousand dollars more than the EE.  (Volumetric means the buttons that deliver a set volume of water - sorry if Im stating the obvious!)  The EE version is the on/off button version.

            The saturated group/boiler design of the linea is really important for maintaining repeatable brew temperatures.  The standard AV defeats this to some extent because the water has to travel outside the saturated group, through a copper tube, through a flowmeter and back into the group via another copper tube.  This means that the machine will deliver less consistent brew temperatures under different usage patterns.  One of the big innovations of the GB5 was the "Pierro" group cap, which has the flowmeter and solenoid set into it to deal with this problem.  If you need volumetrics, the GB5 is much better than a stock linea for this reason.  All of that said, the main reason for wanting volumetric controls is so that you can deal with busy periods.  In fact, some cafe owners will tell you that a volumetric machine is the only way to get through busy periods.  Thanks to the GB5, you dont really lose anything by having a volumetric version now, but I think that the necessity of a volumetric machine is a bit overrated.  Many of the top cafes in Australia do not use volumetric machines.

            The EE switch version of the linea just has a single rocker switch to start and stop the flow.  Thats it.  The EE version of the GB5 has a big oval button.  The EE GB5 has the little LCD display panel which is quite nice because you can turn on the "chronos" function, which is a built-in stopwatch for timing your shots.  You can also program the boiler temp via the LCD display panel.  In contrast, the EE Linea doesnt have a "chronos" function and the PID tends to sit underneath the machine, where it is difficult to reach.  If you order a linea, you should be careful to make sure that your machine comes with a PID fitted at the factory; the linea was originally designed to have a mechanical thermostat and it is entirely possible that this is what your contacts are importing.  The mechanical thermostat is apparently quite good, but the PID will be much easier to work with.

            The lever is essentially a three position switch that allows you to select from off, line pressure or pump pressure.  If you have relatively high water pressure and a pressure limiting valve coming into your machine, you get basically the same pressure profiling functionality that you get on the original e61, the GS1 and 2 series, the Synessos and now the Slayer.  Frankly, Im not all that convinced that this is actually useful in terms of the results that it produces in the cup.  Most people with paddle group machines use them as switches; ie, straight to full on/pump pressure.  The gicleur in the machine takes care of the preinfusion.  A better and more practical area for experimentation is probably in experimenting with different pump pressures.  All of that said, the lever does have the big plus that it is big, chunky and pleasant to use and you arent really losing anything over having a switch.  I do know that the paddle group lineas have different backflushing and cleaning instructions that you will want to take note of.

            You might also want to check with the vendor to make sure that you are getting the latest/australian version steam valves with the vacuum breakers built in and to see which, if any, gicleurs your machine has in the groups to regulate preinfusion.  There are factory extras that I you can find out about like teflon steam wands, teflon or stainless steel portafilters and multiple brew boilers; not sure if all of them are out yet.

            LMs are great machines and Im sure youll be very happy with whatever you get.

            Cheers,
            Luca

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

              Thanks for the detailed advice Luca. Now looking back at the quote, you are correct as the price on the semi auto is cheaper. Am I correct in understanding that you dont see any great advantage with the preinfusion in the paddle version? I am still trying to find out whether the dealer can import this version. I will certainly ask them to arrange with PID as advised.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                I really want to believe that paddle machines are going to be amazingly better than a non-paddle machine because they look great and paddles are heaps more fun than switches, but I would be lying if I said that I thought that there was any really good reason to buy a paddle group machine over a switch machine. Some people seem to have a preference for shots with massive preinfusion and if you want to experiment with that, you would be better off with a paddle group. That said, I am not aware that anyone has seriously investigated preinfusion vs simply brewing with a lower pressure and it might well be that brewing at 7 bar or so yields some interesting results. In terms of preinfusion, you will want to check which gicleur is in the machine, as this slows the pressure rampup. The 0.6mm gicleur seems to be the standard that most people love. Personally, I would like to experiment with a LM with no gicleurs in it; I have only done so briefly and the shots seemed to be better with less preinfusion. LM gicleurs are available in a number of different materials, so you should also check which materials the gicleurs are made from. The metal ones have the drawback of allowing scale to build up and clog them. The teflon ones are a good answer to scale, but it seems that they can flex around a bit, which leads to inconsistent volumes of water coming out. The synthetic ruby ones are hopefully the solution; scale-proof and rigid, but as far as I know they are only available in the popular 0.6mm diameter. You need to check before the machine arrives because they are not interchangeable. As for pressure ramp down, I am yet to see any shot on any machine benefit from going from brew pressure back to preinfusion pressure.

                The paddle group seems to add a bit of complexity for maintenance. The EE is probably a bit easier to maintain; its certainly a bit less complex.

                Cheers,
                Luca

                PS. I dont know what your local water is like, but you definitely want to check that out before getting a machine installed. Chances are that you will need some sort of filter set up, which you really want up and running before the machine goes in so that the machine never has poor quality water put in it. Thats also soemething to discuss with the vendors - its not much good to you to go to all the effort of setting up great filtered water only to find out that they bench test the machine with crappy water ... unless you drain all the boilers, I guess.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                  Originally posted by 20392F2D4C0 link=1259804855/7#7 date=1260073226
                  I dont know what your local water is like, but you definitely want to check that out before getting a machine installed.Chances are that you will need some sort of filter set up, which you really want up and running before the machine goes in so that the machine never has poor quality water put in it.Thats also soemething to discuss with the vendors - its not much good to you to go to all the effort of setting up great filtered water only to find out that they bench test the machine with crappy water ... unless you drain all the boilers, I guess.  
                  Thanks again Luca for the very helpful advice.

                  Water in Phuket will kill with one sip...lol

                  I have marked this as one of my important required areas of research...ie. how to supply filtered water to the machine.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                    Have sent you a PM

                    Regardz,
                    Attilio
                    very first CS site sponsor

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                      Just curious - is this cafe up yet? Going to be in Phuket the end of the week, wouldnt mind paying it a visit if it is.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                        cafe not up and running yet...but snobbers always welcome for a coffee at my place...PM sent!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                          Were coming over in early july, Im really really hopeing your open by then

                          hows the setup coming along? Tell us a story! ;D

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                            Originally posted by 6561475E5E5B44535C320 link=1259804855/12#12 date=1268210282
                            Were coming over in early july, Im really really hopeing your open by then

                            hows the setup coming along? Tell us a story!  ;D
                            The guy who I planned to go in with has procrastinated alot. I am not 100% if it will go ahead with him. If not I will go it alone but that will mean having to find another location and invest more capital by myself. Hopefully I will know in the next few weeks.

                            In the meantime I am trying to learn as much as possible. I did a great cupping course in Bangkok where the coffee industry is really taking off. Chartree, the guy who does the course is the first accredited coffee grader in Thailand. He told me that the recent Thai barista championships were a big success and apparently Feify from Adelaide (my old home) finished second. He is soon to be the first importer of Synesso machines in Thailand and is dangling that carrot in front of me! He also sells Compak and I have chosen the k10 as my grinder of choice.

                            Another colleague in the industry has agreed to sell me his 5kg Toper roaster at a good price as he now needs a larger one to start small scale roasting which I know will take time to master. So my plan is to eventually develop my own roast and sell beans in the cafe and also hopefully penetrate the market as a micro roaster in an environment dominated by one multinational company selling stale old beans ;-).

                            I am a bit slow with all of this but I am the slow cautious type. I will get this off the ground eventually and in the meantime I am enjoying life on a paradise island with surf season approaching .

                            You are welcome to contact me if you are coming here. If the café is not happening any CS members are welcome to come over for a coffee at my house. I will no doubt enjoy the critique on my beans and skills and talking coffee! If not the next best may well be starbucks lol.



                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Commercial machine for new cafe in Phuket

                              Originally posted by 585D525245543C0 link=1259804855/13#13 date=1268388810
                              The guy who I planned to go in with has procrastinated alot.
                              Originally posted by 585D525245543C0 link=1259804855/13#13 date=1268388810
                              I am a bit slow with all of this but I am the slow cautious type.
                              Sorry, but apart from this being more than a tad funny, do you think there may be a problem with this? I really dont mean to offend, but setting up and running a business is always going to be a risk.

                              If you believe in the concept and in yourself, have a crack and enjoy the ride!

                              Den (warning: Im a risk taker!)

                              Comment

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