We at Fine Coffee Company have the most comprehensive answers to most questions; that is from our many years of retailing and repairing many types of coffee machines.
ABOUT COFFEE MACHINES
What are semi-professional machines?
They are prosumer machines used in cafes and any commercial environment but downsized to a smaller footprint. They have the same performance, use up lesser power and do not require special electrical wiring installation. Here’s a video that might help
What are the benefits of these high tier espresso machines?
They are the only genre of espresso machines that can give you cafe quality coffee.
The most obvious difference is the temperature used for extraction, is kept controlled in the right range. Which can blossom out a much wider range of flavors from the coffee, giving you delicious coffee that is interesting, palatable and enjoyable.
Since it has a boiler in the machine, users will have great steaming power to froth the milk perfectly for good lattes or cappuccinos.
How long can semi-professional espresso machines last?
Like most electronics, durability depends on many factors.
For Bezzera, they are using the same brands or components used in their commercial range seen in cafes. Almost all the components in the machine are replaceable or can be rebuilt. Unlike domestic machines found in departmental stores, there are almost no proprietary parts in the machines. There’s almost no end of production to the spare parts, and you can always obtain components to fix them up.
Machines are sometimes passed through generations.
Why are you not introducing espresso machines with grinders integrated?
Espresso machines with grinders integrated are always a bad idea.
Beans that are kept in the grinder will be directly exposed to the heat from the boiler, that will mean that the coffee will deteriorate really quickly. It’s like storing your milk at room temperature and you will really have to finish it faster.
What happens when your coffee deteriorate? The oil from the coffee will vaporize faster, it’s the oil that helps to produce the greatest flavor from the coffee. The extraction will be very watery and your espresso will have a big drop in texture and body.
It’s better to have the grinder and espresso machine separate, so one machine fails, you can still utilize the other.
Why Bezzera makes the best coffee machines?
Bezzera is the founder of the first modern espresso machine, they been producing coffee machines since 1901. They OEM and produce parts for other brands in Italy. Their experience allows them to build more reliable machines that are safer and can perform better out of the box.
Why are there so many types of machines?
Each machine will have its own pro and cons base on the features it has. To give a better summary on what are the difference between the machines, you can check out this page for a quick review. Choose the right espresso machine
Which machine produces the best extraction?
Bezzera has three types of groupheads available from us. The E61, BZ and the Commercial Spring Piston.
E61 is a commercial standard famous for its reliability and serviceablilty. Bezzera uses the most authentic E61 grouphead with heavy brass.
BZ is a remastered version of E61, they are easier to service, smaller and heats up faster but contains more electronics.
The Bezzera Strega’s spring piston design should have an upper edge in both extraction quality and durability.
As for the boiler heating system, heat exchanger models have a heat profile to release a wider spectrum of flavours, and only brew with fresh water, thus it remains our recommended type of boiler heating system.
What’s Single Boiler, Double Boiler and Heat Exchanger?
Single boilers can only froth milk or extract espresso one task at a time. The boiler has to be set at different temperature for each purpose, so making a milk recipe will take a longer time as you need to wait for the boiler to heat to the right temperature for each task. We will recommend single boilers to people who drink coffee in black only as it’s much more troublesome to make a latte or cappuccino. They are the least stable in extraction.
Double boilers and heat exchangers can froth milk and brew at the same time. To know more about the difference between them, check out this page: https://www.finecoffeecompany.com/double-boiler-versus-heat-exchanger/
Is there much difference between the Bezzera BZ versus E61 grouphead?
The BZ grouphead is considered to be a remaster of the old E61 design to perform the similar task of heating the grouphead. It has the following improvements:
- Smaller footprint
- Faster startup time
- Softer grouphead gasket for easier fitting in of filter holder
- Longer durability on the grouphead
- Easy to service
In term of taste, most may not notice any remarkable difference between the two systems. If any, the BZ should release a wider spectrum of flavours from its inherent heat profile. E61s still have a huge fanfare due to its classic design and might be slightly more forgiving with more headroom for preinfusion.
Which machine is the most durable?
The most durable should be the Spring Pistons, followed by BZ then E61.
Many have the concept that the old E61 is more durable than the other models, this is not backed by any evidence. Inside the E61, it has about 25 loose parts in the grouphead, like gears that brush against each other, and many more gaskets that will eventually wear off. Thus the E61 will definitely have a higher probability of having a part failing.
Besides that, the thermosyphon system which circulate hot water into the grouphead. This can cause additional stress and issues as limescale are often deposited into this area, increasing the abrasion in wear and tear. The space in the brew chamber which allows pre-infusion are also space for residue or coffee oil to get trapped within the grouphead.
Spring pistons are definitely more long-lasting, given the fact that there are much lesser components and the pump doesn’t require working as hard to pull the extraction. Extraction is instead done by solid springs, which can easily last for decades.
Which are the special features available?
A PID is a heat controller. The user can control the level of bitterness and smoothness of the drink through temperature, as well manage the profiles of the aroma extracted.
Refer to this page for more information. https://www.finecoffeecompany.com/really-need-pid-temperature-controller/
Plumb in and drainage system:
Some machines have the option to plumb in from a direct water source so you won’t need to top up the water tank.
And with a drainage system, there’s no need to worry about overflowing drip trays anymore.
This is an excellent feature for commercial environments.
However, do take note that the inlet pressure must not be more than 4 bars as it may affect the brew pressure and the pump. It is important to always install a water softening system to keep the internals free from limescale. Refer to this page for more information on water softening. Water Softening
Heavy duty spares:
They are some models that are meant for heavy-duty usage, example the rotary pump.
These machines don’t mean that they will certainly not fail. It only means the pump is capable of repeating many shots with a lesser chance of over-heating.
What’s the difference between the Rotary pump and the Vibration pump?
The Rotary pump is quieter, lasts longer and runs at a steady pressure.
If you are making more than 30 extractions in an hour, you should get a Rotary pump as vibration pumps may overheat at such capacity.
Rotary pumps models often can be plumbed in with a continuous water supply. They can also draw water from a not pressurized source like a water container.
Can you recommend us a suitable machine?
Refer to the following page for better assistance. You should first look at the features you find important, and you can streamline to a suitable machine.
What size of portafilter are the machines using?
58mm professional standard but bear in mind that different machines use a slightly different design of portafilter and may not be compatible.
USING THE MACHINE
Who is suitable to use these prosumer espresso machines?
Anyone without any physical or mental disability can use them.
The reduced size means that they are good for small environments like home, offices or smaller food establishments. Usage wise, they are much easier to use or maintain than most imagined.
Is it worth purchasing a Bezzera espresso machine?
Users can always sell off the machine and recover a portion of the cost after a few years.
With cost of good coffee getting expensive in Singapore, most users recover the cost of the machine over time, even if you factor in regular maintenance.
We recommend users who are worry of cost to go for the baseline models as they cost less to service over the long term and has less electronics to fail.
Where can I learn how to use a semi-professional machine?
Most users have no problem in making a good espresso or frothing milk. The biggest challenge is calibrating the grinder for the first time which we can fine tune on your behalf.
Are semi-professional machines easily dirty and attracts a lot of pests?
According to a recent research, semi-professional espresso machines are the cleanest among the different genres with the least insects infested. That’s because insects will find the heat from the boiler unbearable.
Automatic and vending machines are comfortable homes for cockroaches and maggots to infest.
Are semi-professional machines hard to clean?
It depends on the amount of usage and model.
Users can always choose to not do any cleaning like in automatic machines, because they are not designed to be able to clean well. But not cleaning causes coffee to clog up, resulting in dirty coffee or machine to fail faster
Most semi-professional espresso machines have this great feature of able to do backflushing. It is usually done after the last cup, and is a less than a minute job.
What is backflushing? It is to clean the brewing chamber with pressurized hot water.
Backflushing removes the coffee oil from building up in the brew chamber which will eventually build up and clog all valves causing major damages. Not only that, the oil that stays behind will go rancid and goes to your next cup of coffee.
You can also do a deep clean by backflush with grouphead detergent sometimes.
Do you need to send for regular servicing?
It depends on usage, ambiance condition and the amount of time you keep it on. Some machines are designed to be able to withstand heavy duty usage, those will require less servicing and are normally recommended for demanding usage.
The baseline models are recommended to send in at least once every 2500 hours of switching it on, so if you switch on for 1 hour a day, you should send it back at least once every 2500 days, which is 6.5 years.
Which machine is the easiest to clean?
The cleaning process comparing BZ and E61 grouphead, is almost the same, backflushing is required. When you purchase an espresso machine from us, we will give you a set of cleaning agent.
Follow the videos on how to use them from our website, cleaning isn’t a lengthy process as most will assume, usually done in a minute. For the Bezzera Strega, it’s the easiest to clean as backflushing is not required.
What should I look out for when using the machine?
It is always important to use softened water for espresso machines, else it can cause huge damages over the long run, requiring expensive overhauls. It’s a misconception that water from Singapore is soft.
Always be careful of hot surfaces, steam and water.
If you are using the Bezzera Strega or any lever machines, always keep your head away from the direction of where the lever will bounce back. If there’s no coffee loaded portafilters insert into the machine, there will be no resistance and the lever will bounce back with great force. Thus the user has to hold the lever and slowly release the lever back to its original position. Be careful not to pull the machine at the wrong angle and have it falling on you.
Does it cost a lot to use a semi-professional system?
Coffee can cost as low as 11 to 30 cents per espresso shot. A good espresso machine allows the user to use a cheaper grade of coffee beans and still produce a decent espresso. Users will also have the freedom of choice to use any coffee from around the world. Single serve coffee capsules, which are popular among domestic users in recent years, cost 50 to 88 cents per espresso shot. In terms of running cost, a bean to cup machine is definitely cheaper in the long run.
Another thing to factor in, is semi-professional machines retain a high resale value and the cost of them increase with inflation. Owners will not lose the total capital cost from the purchase.
What are the things necessary for a new semi-professional set-up?
Beside the main machine, you may need the following:
- A coffee grinder – You can do without it if you purchase your coffee in powdered form, but that won’t be recommended as powdered coffee will oxidise very rapidly which affects the taste and extraction directly.
- A tamper (All machines come with a plastic tamper)
- Brush for cleaning (Most machines come with it)
- A milk jug for frothing (Optional)
Most machines come with a double portafilter, a single portafilter, a single basket, a double basket, a blind filter, a cleaning brush and a plastic tamper.
The Strega does not come with the blind filter as it should not be backflushed.
The Bezzera BZ series doesn’t come with single portafilter.
Can one use a semi professional machine for commercial use?
The trend with most commercial operators are going for lesser groupheads and smaller machines.
You will need to pick a model with stronger components to withstand the usage. One can add on more units if they see that there’s a need. Having two machines will allow better insurance against downtime than having one big unit.
Besides that, prosumers are using 13amp plugs which means that the machines have great value in the resale market, and can be sold to any homes or offices. The power consumption for bigger machines are much higher, easily 3000W to 10000W per hour. While the prosumer range are more efficient, often drawing less than 1500W.
How should the user maintain the machine and how long can it last?
The best way to keep your espresso machine working for a long time is to use softened water. If your water is hard, descaling will be necessary periodically. As descaling is also a damaging process, it will be better to use a softener as a preventive measure than doing too much descaling.
With regular maintenance and a clean power supply, they should last many years. The number of years depending on the model, the ambiance condition and usage.
What should a new user take note?
Two things that are important.
Full cleaning process can be found in the New Starter’s Guide.
2. Obtain good coffee
Coffee should not be oxidised. Being too oily on the surface signifies that the coffee was roasted too dark which has poor aromatic profiles, bitter and full of astringents. Be wary of where you purchase your coffee from, as poorly processed coffee may have stones hidden in the pack that can easily damage any grinders.
What is the first thing a user should do when first receive a machine
First, fill up the water tank with water before switching on. Always check that your water tank is full or water network is properly connected before switching on.
It will take a little while before it’s turned on. Please note that the machine, with all its internal tubes, are filled with air instead of water since it’s new.
If the machine is using vibration pump, the pump should not be activated for more than 120 seconds without 60 seconds of rest.
Refer to the troubleshooting page for any issues.
What is the optimum pressure for extraction?
For Bezzera semi-professional machines, we suggest around 12 bars for vibration pump. You can go to 9-10 bars for Rotary pumps.
Below is a video from Luca Bezzera explaining why is it so.
As machines are built base on different measurements and algorithms. What works on other machines may not function as well on the brand you purchase.
We will suggest that users stick to the default setting for the best-recommended setting recommended by the manufacturer.
MAKING A PURCHASE
How to get a sales quotation or invoice?
To get a quotation, register an account and add all required items into the cart.
Registration can be done from the following webpage: My account
The quotation can be downloaded from the link provided on the cart page.
Cart can be found here: Cart
Where country is Fine Coffee Company located?
We are located in Singapore.
What currency are the prices listed in?
They are in Singapore Dollars.
Why are models sold by Fine Coffee Company cheaper than similar models from other brands?
For coffee machines, we work with bigger brands like Bezzera and Quamar. Who are not only manufacturers of espresso machines but also producers and wholesalers of OEM parts, to other brands.
Being the top line of the production, their machines are naturally cheaper and are built with thorough research. Particularly Bezzera, who was the inventor of the first espresso machine with the longest period of history in espresso machine production. They not only provide the best value, they provide the best components and material for their machines.
How long will it take to deliver within Singapore?
Normally within 2 to 3 working days if the items are in stock. It may take longer during the peak seasons.
For machine orders, we do send on weekends.
Are the prices inclusive of GST?
We absorbed all the GST and do not charge to customers. GST can’t be refunded for international purchases as we are not GST registered.
Do you ship internationally?
We ship mainly to the following nations:
Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia Philippines, Vietnam & India.
For other nations, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for shipping quotations.
By making any purchase to be delivered outside of Singapore.
You agree that we are free from any level of liability and warranty that includes failure and defects of the machine, damage from freight and any form of direct or indirect damages. We are also unable to provide support for overseas as we do not have any technicians located overseas.
We will also not be responsible for any customs duties or complications that may occur in the importing nation’s territory.
Do you accept payment via credit card?
Yes, the option can be found at the checkout page
Is there any place to look at the machines?
You can view most of them at the experimental centre in Singapore; it’s by appointment only.
Is there any place to learn how to use the machines?
You can arrange to visit the experimental centre in Singapore; it’s by appointment only. There are no charges.
Alternatively, our New Starter’s Guide should help.
Do you do onsite demonstration or calibration before or after purchase?
We do not offer onsite calibration or demonstration worldwide.
Our couriers don’t engage in such services.
If you wish to have more information, please proceed to make an appointment to the Experimental and Service Centre.
Alternatively, our New Starter’s Guide should help.
Do you do on-site installation?
No, we don’t provide on-site installation and there’s no need to.
The espresso machines should work out of the box and don’t need further calibration. As for the grinder, we can fine tune a little before sending it to you, so it will be a lot easier for you to caliberate further base on your tamping strength.
If you need installation service connecting to water networks, you will need to get a licensed plumber. We can provide fittings to allow the plumber to convert to local specifications.
If you need demonstration services, please make an appointment to the Experimental and Service Centre.
AFTER SALES SERVICE
How can I arrange a warranty claim or repair?
For repairs, please fill up the technical support form.
All machines to be repaired have to be sent back to Singapore.
Due to homologation, availability of spares, technical conditions & other limitations.
Fine Coffee Company will not be able to provide any service, modifications, repairs, spare parts or technical support for machines purchased not from its authorized local distribution source, grey imports or machines purchased from overseas.
For full information, please refer to the warranty and support page
Can machines be fixed onsite?
We will need to bring the machine back for proper servicing. Food grade sealants and threadlockers that are applied to components, need at least 24 hours to cure fully. Time will also be necessary to heat the machine up for tests and the machine to cool for our technicians to work with.
Power tools are sometimes required during the servicing.