In the morning when you get out of bed and you need that cup of coffee to get you going, you may not care much about the inner workings of a commercial coffee machine. But you can be sure that when you go through a drive-thru to get your espresso, or when you stop by the automatic coffee machine at the office, it’s important that it works and works correctly.
So how does a coffee machine work? And what’s the best coffee machine for offices?
The Automatic Espresso Machine for the Office
There are three different types of espresso makers: semi-automatic, fully automatic, and super-automatic. Don’t be fooled by the names into thinking that the “super” makes better espresso than the “semi”. The fact is that they can all make a terrific cup of coffee. The name differences come in how automated they are.
Generally, in an office setting, you don’t want a semi-automatic coffee maker. These makers (and their even more low-tech version, the “manual”) are primarily to aid baristas in making good coffee in coffee shops. They’re automated enough that they can move quickly, but they require some amount of skill level to make them work as they should to produce that delicious coffee.
So let’s take a look at how automatic coffee machines work. They’re not hard to use, and very user-friendly, but you might want to know what makes them tick.
The basic gist of a commercial espresso machine is that ground beans are poured into the machine and heated in a steam boiler to 700 degrees Celsius, then the coffee is fed through a series of tubes that act as a sort of radiator, letting the coffee cool down significantly from that extreme heat before it ever makes it to your cup. This temperature control is essential to providing a cup that is the perfect level of heat.
But a big thing we need to address is water quality. A commercial machine will have filters to make sure that the water is as pure as possible, focusing primarily on three factors.
The first is the level of chlorine in the water. Chlorine is added to drinking water in very small amounts, but when you drink it in a cup of coffee you can taste the difference. So chlorine is filtered out.
The second thing that gets filtered is hard water. Good coffee is made with soft water, so even if an office building has a water softener, the coffee maker will have an additional set of filters to remove the high levels of minerals that are present in hard water.
The third thing removed from water is its alkalinity. Coffee naturally has acids in it (notably tannic acid) and alkalinity can disrupt the pH levels of the finished product, so it is removed in an automatic coffee machine for commercial uses.
There are different types of water pumps that lead the water through the machine before it hits the hot water tap. The first is the vibratory pump and the second is the rotary vein pump. Either pump will work just fine in large offices, and while there are technical differences the ultimate point is that it maintains temperature stability.
Ultimately the goal is to get a fresh, hot, steaming cup of coffee whenever you want it to get you through the day. And whether that’s a cup of black coffee, a latte, or an espresso shot, that’s up to you.