Buying A Used Commercial Machine

Used Commercial machines (often on well known auction sites)

What do you think about the Cimbali option? - I understand your point about the risk of acquiring a knackered machine, if it was commercially abused previously, but there are some just a few years old and looking very well kept.

Here's another that went for about 350 quid. (I think I'm enamoured with the automatic dosing, and the ability to program your cooling flush, and having it at the touch of a button. The cooling flush on the Bric requires careful watching (and bending) for each shot, I don't think someone not familiar could manage it) reference to item on a commercial auction site ***

Great, you have finally decided to upgrade and the advice from "those in the know" is "get yourself a commercial machine". These machines are often spotted on well known auction sites.

they might look fine, but sometimes the people selling these machines can be a little economical with the truth. Even two years commercial use is a hell of a lot, especially if it has not been looked after during that time. Rotary pumps usually only last a few years in a commercial use environment. If the machine is fine (why sell it) there is usually a VERY good reason they are selling it. Often to them 2 years old means they have had it 2 years, but it can have had a very hard life with another owner in the previous 5 years!

I often see the same old machines coming up time and time again….once I was even stupid enough to go and look at a commercial machine. It was a complete pile of junk, not worth having for free!! Looked OK in the picture though.

The commercial machines are usually VERY big, much bigger than you think. You could easily end up spending £300-400 and have a machine with faults that are extremely expensive to put right, especially electronic dosing….wow you get a problem with that and it's expensive.

All that said, you could be lucky, remember though the people selling these machines, usually know exactly what they are worth and other professional buyers will have often got to the seller first….so if the machines still there it could be because they didn't want it. If they didn't want it…why would you, if you outbid them and "win" it….they get parts much, much, cheaper than you, but they were not prepared to pay that much for it.

If you are going to go for a commercial machine, at least try and go and see it before you pay, have:

1. A pressure measuring portafilter
2. Backflush (blind) filter
3. Screwdriver Set
4. The knowledge to know what to look for
5. A seller prepared to let the machine warm up for 30 minutes and for you to have a good 30 mins to check it out.

Bidding blind on auction sites…..nah, not for a lot of money…only for peanuts, but then you usually get a knackered machine. Remember, a lot of other people are also bidding against you who may not know any more than you and are bidding the price up. Lots of bids do not mean its any good! There is also what's termed "shill bidding"…yes it can happen.

Ultimately, even if you do get that commercial machine and become the darling and the envy of the coffee forum illumunati….they are BIG (I know I said that already, but they really are BIG), have BIG boilers, and potentially BIG bills. They were not made to sit in a domestic kitchen and do 6 espressos a day. The rotary pumps and their motors are large and often external to the machine. The plumbing usually needs to include a drain and the water inlet requires a pressure regulator and after all that they are a pig to descale….most people end up buying an expensive inline filter to stop the scale (not those cheap ones you see for dishwashers, they are not suitable).

And god forbid you ever have to move it, especially if it's a 2 or 3 group….ensure you have private medical insurance to fix that hernia, or double rupture. There are a whole range of smaller "prosumer machines" for a very good reason….practicality in the home environment.

Oh Dear…you just bought one….no problem, find the nearest on-line auction site and get rid of it, plenty of people out there who won't have read this article.

Yes you have guessed it…i'm not a fan of commercial machines for the home. there are some people that are….but then mabye they are prepared to put up with a lot more aggro than me….and possibly you?

GS3…now don't get me started on the GS3….

Also see:upgradeitis