What’s the difference between traditional and bean to cup?

Traditional Espresso machines and Bean to Cup machines both produce quality coffee from fresh beans and fresh milk. To help you decide which is best for you, and to try to answer some other common questions, we have come up with the following as a guide:

Traditional Bean to cup
What is the difference between these machines? A traditional machine consists of coffee heads (or groups) which are used to extract Espresso from pre-ground coffee placed in handles. A Barista (trained coffee machine operative) manually prepares beverages using the machine Bean to cup machines consists of integrated grinding, brewing and steaming functions which prepare beverages at the touch of a button. They aim to automate the way in which a coffee is made by a Barista
What drinks can I make? The Espresso is the basis for all coffees, the operator uses the machine to draw off an Espresso ‘shot’ and then manually adds a mix of hot water, hot milk and milk foam depending on the beverage required. Numerous coffee specialities and variations can be prepared to suit individual customer requirements by a skilled operator Most machines have 6-8 pre-programmed drink selections and will include the most popular drinks such as Americano, Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte
What is the drink quality like? The quality of the drink produced is dependent on the operator, providing they are experienced the best quality coffee will be produced from a traditional machine Bean to cup machines come a close second to traditional machines in terms of the quality of drinks they produce. However, the main advantage of bean to cup machines over traditional machines is consistency, as if they are maintained properly they will produce the same drink every time.
How easy is it to make a coffee? The Barista will grind beans using a separate grinder, place them in the group handle and compress (tamp) the grounds. They will then place the handle in the machine, place a cup under the outlet and start the machine to produce the Espresso shot. If milk is required they will place this in a jug and steam it separately, and then add it to the cup The operator will place the cup underneath the outlet and press the button for the drink required. The machine then does the rest (grinds the beans, brews the coffee, steams the milk if required, and places it all in the cup)
How long does it take to make a drink? This is dependant on the operator as it is largely a manual process, but speed is increased when making multiple drinks at once A bean to cup machine will typically take 30-40 seconds to produce a Cappuccino, output can be increased by upgrading to machines which can make multiple drinks at the same time
How many coffees can I make each day? This is dependent on the number of coffee heads (groups) and also the speed of your staff using the machine. This varies depending on the size of the machine, but our most popular machines such as the Franke Flair are typically recommended for up to 100 cups per day (see individual machines for more details)
Can I make multiple drinks at once? Yes, with multiple group heads you can draw off multiple Espresso shots at once, larger machines may also have two steam arms allowing two people to steam milk simultaneously This is dependent on the machine, most machines allow two Espresso shots or Americanos to be drawn off simultaneously, some of the larger and newer machines now allow two milk based coffees to be produced at the same time
Can I make different cup sizes? Yes, you can add as much milk and hot water as you like to fill the cup, and alter the strength by single or double Espresso Most of our bean to cup machines only produce one size drink but do have the facility to add additional hot water, milk and an additional Espresso for larger cup sizes
Can I make decaffeinated coffee? Yes, you can either grind fresh beans or used pre-ground coffee in the handle to produce decaffeinated Espresso, which can then be used to make any drink required Yes, most bean to cup machines have either the option to use pre-ground coffee, or have twin hoppers so you can use one to grind decaffeinated coffee beans at the touch of a button
Can I make hot chocolate? You can use the hot water and steam functions to froth milk to make a hot chocolate Most bean to cup machines which offer hot chocolate at the touch of a button use powdered rather than fresh milk, so compromise on the quality of the coffee, although there are some newer models which use fresh milk (see Franke Pura). You can however use the hot water and frothy milk functions on most of our bean to cup machines to make quality hot chocolates
How easy is it to clean? A simple wipe down and back flush is needed at the end of each session. Steam arms should also be wiped and purged regularly during use The milk system must be flushed though daily, and coffee cleaning and descaling cycles run periodically. User friendly integrated cleaning cycles make cleaning easy.
What about staff training? Barista training is essential when using one of these machines, due to the skill involved in tamping the ground coffee and in steaming and frothing milk. Training on cleaning down the machine correctly is also necessary Staff training is only really need on cleaning the machine
Is it suitable for self service? No, correct training is needed to operate Yes, these machines are easy to operate making them suitable for self-service environments such as showrooms or offices. Cash systems can also be added to many models if required
Do I need to plumb it in to the mains water supply? Yes, traditional machines generally require plumbing for both the water supply and waste, and will need an in-line water filter (Except Fracino Little Gem) No, most of the commercial bean to cup machines we supply have large integrated water tanks and waste containers so don’t require plumbing
Do I need a special power supply? Yes, most traditional 2-group machines require a dedicated 20 amp supply, a 1-group machine will run off a 13 amp supply No, for most bean to cup machines a standard 13 amp plug socket is all you need
How quickly can I get a machine? Once you have all the plumbing and power supply in place, these can normally be delivered and installed within a week of ordering We have used machines in all of the time and these can be delivered to you within a few days if required, new machines can normally be supplied within a week of ordering
How long does it take to install? Installation and set up will take around an hour as long as you have the correct power supply and plumbing in place prior Most bean to cup machines just need plugging in and are ready to go, setting up the machine and drinks to your specific requirements will take around half an hour
What additional equipment do I need? You will need a separate grinder, knockout box, and water filter, plus optional Barista kit items such as Milk Jugs No additional equipment is required but you may wish to add a milk fridge to sit alongside the machine. Items such as cup warmers and plumbing in kits are also available for most models as optional extras