Top 5 Commercial Espresso Machines

Barista using a commercial espresso machine.

New technology and trends continually impact the world of specialty coffee, including the espresso machines that help baristas create many popular beverages.

This article, written by coffee professionals, compiles a list of the top five commercial espresso machines on the market today. It includes details on each machine’s key features, ease of use, and price.


What to Consider

Before we share our top five recommendations, let’s review what makes a great espresso machine:

  • Steam Wands – A steam wand’s range of motion is important because it not only increases a barista’s work efficiency, but also makes it easier to steam milk and milk alternatives on a wand that can pivot.
  • Group Heads – The number of group heads on modern espresso machines can vary. If you plan to open your cafe in a high-traffic area, consider buying a machine with three group heads rather than two to support a higher customer volume.
  • Boilers – Double boilers are essential in commercial espresso machines so baristas can steam milk and pull shots simultaneously. For an added bonus, machines with auto-fill boilers allow you to pull a higher volume of shots by constantly filling with temperature-ready water.
  • Aesthetics – We’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the visual appeal of a modern espresso machine. Looks definitely are important due to the size of these machines as well as their central location within a cafe.
  • Usability – An espresso machine’s efficiency and ease of use also are key factors to consider, particularly for cafes in high-traffic areas.
  • Solenoids – These coils inside an espresso machine help maintain pressure and play an essential role in the process of pulling quality shots of espresso.

Our Top 5

Because every specialty coffee shop is different, selecting the right espresso machine for your business depends largely on the particulars of your establishment. To help you narrow your search, here’s an overview of our five favorite brands and their top commercial machines.

1. La Marzocco

Widely considered the standard for specialty coffee shops, La Marzocco leads the market in terms of innovation and quality. For example, its introduction of double boilers and saturated group heads to commercial espresso machines helped elevate coffee preparation industry-wide. La Marzocco continues to offer market-leading machines with its Strada and Linea models.

Here are a few key features its machines offer:

  • Insulated boilers
  • Temperature control
  • Adjustability for every step in the process to give baristas complete control
  • Customization

Recommended Commercial Machine:

We recommend La Marzocco’s Strada espresso machine for specialty coffee shop owners because of its design as a elevated classic. Combining features from classic, trusted La Marzocco machines, the Strada also includes a preheating system, lever steam actuation, an LCD display with timers, and exposed group heads to enhance visibility. All included features aid in the skillful extraction of a perfect shot of espresso while enabling baristas to maintain control over their coffee preparation.

To learn more about La Marzocco’s commercial espresso machine options, check out our full guide.

2. Nuova Simonelli®

Known for its easy-to-use machines, this manufacturer includes more automated features than other brands. However, each feature on a Nuova Simonelli espresso machine serves a purpose to help baristas simplify coffee preparation.

Here are a few key features its machines offer:

  • Designed to support high customer volumes
  • Soft-infusion technology to help produce quality espresso every time
  • Low price points

Recommended Commercial Machine:

We recommend Nuova Simonelli’s Aurelia II espresso machine for specialty coffee shop owners because its included features help simplify coffee preparation for baristas of all skill levels. For example, it features automatic backflushing and includes LED lights on the steam wand as well as the front of the machine. This machine is a great option for medium- to high-volume cafes that want a powerful, yet low-profile machine.

To learn more about Nuova Simonelli’s commercial espresso machine options, check out our full guide.

3. Victoria Arduino

Now owned by Nuova Simonelli, Victoria Arduino retains its original appeal by continuing to create espresso machines that pay homage to traditional coffee preparation. With their lever-operated group heads and hand-hammered metal, these beautiful machines look like they come from another time while holding their own in modern coffee shops.

Here are a few key features its machines offer:

  • Beautiful, distinct designs
  • Soft-infusion technology
  • Easy to use

Recommended Commercial Machine:
We recommend Victoria Arduino’s Adonis espresso machine for specialty coffee shop owners because of its ease of use and classic look. This manufacturer’s espresso machines always combine innovation with tradition, and the Adonis exemplifies this approach. Key features include a soft-infusion system, built-in timers, and automatic cleaning cycles to help make a barista’s job fun and easy.

To learn more about Victoria Arduino’s commercial espresso machine options, check out our full guide.

4. Rancilio

Founded in 1927, Rancilio produces high-quality espresso machines with a focus on the barista experience. It’s a top choice for specialty coffee shops due to the brand’s easy-to-use features that simplify espresso preparation for baristas of all skill levels.

Here are a few key features its machines offer:

  • Low price points
  • Ability to perform in high-volume cafes
  • Intuitive user interface

Recommended Commercial Machine:

We recommend Rancilio’s Classe 9 S espresso machine for specialty coffee shop owners because of its innovative design and affordability. It exemplifies the company’s reputation for producing less-expensive, high-quality machines. With options for up to four group heads as well as quick-recovery boilers, this machine is perfect for high-volume cafes seeking to minimize their expenses.

To learn more about Rancilio’s commercial espresso machine options, check out our full guide.

5. Rocket® Espresso

Dedicated to efficiency and usability over aesthetics, Rocket Espresso has a reputation for easy-to-use, cost-efficient machines that don’t sacrifice quality. These machines work particularly well in busy cafes with new baristas.

Here are a few key features its machines offer:

  • Well-made machines
  • Low price points
  • Easy maintenance

Recommended Commercial Machine: 

We recommend Rocket’s BOXER espresso machine for specialty coffee shop owners because of its classic and simple approach to espresso preparation. Made for baristas and coffee shop owners seeking a low-profile, easy-to-use machine, the BOXER is a great example of a solid espresso machine at a low price.

To learn more about Rocket’s commercial espresso machine options, check out our full guide.

Additional Considerations

Beyond the aspects noted above, you also should consider these factors when shopping for an espresso machine:

  • Employee Skill Level – This should play a big role in helping you decide on the right machine for your coffee shop. Most specialty coffee shops use semi-automatic machines, which require skilled baristas to operate well. However, some semi-automatic machines can help make the process easier for less-experienced staff with features like automatic shot-stopping and built-in timers.
  • Beverage Volume Depending on your location and foot traffic, you may need a machine built to support heavier customer volumes. This could mean more group heads, more space for drink preparation, or even boiler features that ensure you can retain optimal pressure and temperature during rush periods.
  • Personal Preference Ultimately, you’re the best judge of which espresso machine will work well for your shop. Choosing a model with features you value, a price point that suits your budget, and proven ease of use will help boost your overall satisfaction with your new machine.
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Launching a specialty coffee shop is no small task. For more in-depth information about opening a specialty coffee shop, check out our comprehensive guide.