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Traditional vs Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine – Which one is right for you?

Posted on 31/08/2018 by RSL
Estimated reading time: 5 min read
Categories: Business and Industry, HORECA

Traditional vs Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine – Which one is right for you?


traditional vs bean to cup - the touch bean to cup coffee machine

No matter the industry you are in, if you are looking to provide quality coffee for your customers and visitors you will probably have asked yourself the question, which machine is right for me? Do I go for a bean-to-cup machine or a traditional espresso coffee machine?

Your decision will likely be based on many different aspects of your business. Thinking about things like your budget, the footfall of your venue, your experience and the experience of your staff or end user and the profile of your customer base will really help when trying to figure out which option is the best for you.

Firstly, a quick explanation as to what the different machines actually do.

A bean to cup coffee machine is fully automated, other than the push of a button. It basically does the work of a grinder, a coffee machine and a barista all in one; grinding the beans on demand for ultimate freshness, tamping the grounds, extracting the coffee, steaming the milk if necessary and pouring the drink.

A traditional espresso style machine is an espresso machine that a trained barista uses to extract coffee from the coffee grounds (that they have created in a coffee grinder), by tamping them into a portafilter and fixing into the grouphead for the water to pass through (the grounds) and filter out into a receptacle.

Budgettraditional vs bean to cup - balmforth and co coffee

You really do not want to stretch yourself too thin in the ambition of getting the best of the best. Stay within your means and really research what you actually need from a machine, checking out reviews from other purchasers to see if the product is worth the money.

A bean-to-cup machine is a lower cost than a traditional espresso machine, with a traditional machine also needing a coffee grinder alongside it to grind the coffee beans (before extracting the coffee in the barista-style coffee machine).

If you would like to find out more about the importance of your coffee grinder when it comes to making delicious, consistent coffee, check out our blog ‘Why Your Coffee Grinder Is More Important Than Your Coffee Machine.’


traditional vs bean to cup - la spaziale coffee machine

Considering at what rate you intend on churning out the coffees will help determine whether you need a quick solution, such as a bean-to-cup coffee machine, or a traditional coffee machine, where the drinks will take a little longer to make, unless you have a 3-group machine with two members of staff working on it to keep up with demand.

On the balance, a bean-to-cup machine will only withstand a certain amount of usage per day, before having to be cleaned, have milk replaced or carry out any other maintenance routines. A traditional machine has the ability to make coffees all day long with little maintenance needed throughout the day, other than ensuring the steam wands are clean and free of milk with each use.


To operate a bean-to-cup machine, there is very little experience or skill needed, just a simple how-to demonstration from the installation team or supplier, they should show you how to operate and clean the machine and give you some basic information on how the machine works.

A traditional, espresso machine requires some training both on the coffee machine and the coffee grinder (that it will be used in conjunction with). Look for a supplier that can provide the training for you, unless you are highly experienced and totally comfortable with the machine already.

Another skill that takes some time to master is latte art, this can step your coffee offering up a good few notches, and you may end up cashing in on the benefits of serving up eye-catching, ‘instagrammable’ coffee!

With this in mind, staff retention may have to be considered, the time and cost of training up staff on a regular basis, may outweigh the benefits of using a barista style machine.

Customer Basetraditional vs bean to cup - latte art

Consider the profile of your customers. Are they used to a certain type of machine? Do they expect barista made coffee? Are they leisurely, social visitors, or purposeful customers? Maybe they would delight in the theatre of a traditional coffee machine and pretty latte art, or perhaps they want a quick fix of good quality coffee and be on their way.


The type of coffee machine you decide on may be determined by the location it is intended on being stationed. Firstly, it may be that you have very limited space, in which case a traditional machine may not be the best option and a bean-to-cup machine will fit in nicely with them having a small footprint.

However, if you are keeping the coffee machine front of house with plenty of space, a traditional barista style machine could be a great addition for some dramatic flare, if you have the trained staff to operate it.

Cleaningtraditional vs bean to cup - traditional machine close up

With a bean-to-cup machine you may end up having to clean it part way through the day if you have exceeded the maximum volume of drinks the machine is capable of per day, but the high-tech machines of nowadays give you step-by-step instructions on a touchscreen and simply get on with the job once you have added a cleaning tablet and carried out the basic instructions provided.

The cleaning of a traditional machine is easy if you keep up with it regularly, ensuring the steam wands are free of milk after each drink made. While, after each day of coffee making, the detachable components are removed to leave to soak in an appropriate cleaner overnight, and the group heads flushed with cleaning solution, ready for reassembling the next day.

Once you have taken stock of what your business actually needs and can practically provide, hopefully you will have a much better idea of what type of machine to go for.

If you require any further advice, our coffee machine experts are happy to help, contact us today to arrange a free consultation or tasting session by completing the online enquiry form, emailing, or calling 0800 169 3686.

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