What are the different types of office coffee machines?

Thinking about getting a coffee machine for the office? We bet your employees will think that’s a great idea. There are many benefits of having an office coffee machine, from enhanced productivity and increased energy levels to boosting office morale and improving working relationships. It’s a real winner.

However, when it comes to choosing the best type of coffee machine for your office, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the choices. Do you need an industrial machine that can make 250 cups per day? Or will a smaller, compact machine that produces 50 cups a day work? Do your employees love specialty coffee or prefer to stick to the classics?

Here, we’ll explain the different types of commercial coffee machines and their pros and cons to help you choose which one will be the best.

Types of commercial coffee machines

Generally, there are 5 different types of commercial coffee machines – each one with its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the differences between these coffee machines and how they will work within your office is important.

1. Bean-to-cup coffee machine

A bean-to-cup coffee machine, otherwise known as an automatic coffee machine, does the work of a professional, barista-grade machine but is more user-friendly. You’ll typically find that when coffee beans have been ground, they lose a lot of their aroma shortly after. But, with a bean-to-cup coffee machine, the beans are ground on demand for the freshest brew. This means the aroma and flavour remain, and the coffee is as good quality as one from a coffee shop.

These types of machines are often a pro at creating specialty coffees, such as lattes and cappuccinos, as well as classic favourites. Some even include a section for chocolate powder so employees can make a soothing cup of hot chocolate in the winter months.

Bean to cup coffee machine advantages

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Speciality coffees at the touch of a button.
  • Barista-quality coffee.
  • Freshly ground coffee beans for a richer taste and aroma.
  • Long-term investment.
  • Energy-saving technology.

Bean to cup coffee machine disadvantages

  • More expensive upfront.
  • Larger than other machines, so not suited for smaller spaces.
  • Needs more frequent cleaning.

2. Filter coffee machine

A filter coffee machine is a much smaller device that uses gravity to brew coffee. Essentially, water is poured through the ground coffee beans, which then sit in a paper filter. The machine heats the water, extracting the flavours from the coffee beans and uses gravity to drip and pour it into the mug. This creates a large amount of coffee which is why it’s such a popular choice for offices.

Filter coffee machines can reliably produce a smooth and delicious cup of coffee. While you can use pre-ground coffee for this machine, for a better taste, we’d recommend investing in a grinder too.

Filter coffee machine advantages

  • Can brew and store a large amount of coffee.
  • Lower upfront costs.
  • Easy to use.
  • Compact design.
  • Cost-per-cup is lower than other commercial coffee machines.

Filter coffee machine disadvantages

  • Can’t prepare speciality drinks.
  • Need to replace paper filters often.
  • Paper filters can take away some flavour.
  • Longer brew time.

3. Coffee pod machine

Coffee pod machines have become increasingly popular over the years, with many homes and businesses opting to buy one due to their ease of use, stylish appearance and different flavours available. While many coffee connoisseurs may turn their noses up at the pre-packaged pods, it’s a quick and convenient way to get your fix.

These machines work by having a compartment for the water and another compartment to place the pod in. The water is heated to a perfect temperature and is pumped through the pod, which then drips and pours into the cup.

Coffee pod machine advantages

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Plenty of choices – from lattes and cappuccinos to different flavoured hot chocolates and americanos.
  • Kept fresh in the packaging.
  • Aesthetically-pleasing design.
  • Hassle-free to clean.

Coffee pod machine disadvantages

  • Pods can be difficult to recycle and aren’t environmentally-friendly.
  • Not as high-quality as barista-style coffee.
  • Specific pods are needed for specific machines.
  • Can be costly to replace pods.

4. Espresso coffee machine

A traditional espresso coffee machine is likely what you’ll find in your local coffee shop. These machines produce the highest quality coffee and are perfect if your employees are all coffee fanatics. Featuring one or several group heads, water is forced through the ground coffee beans under pressure, creating espresso. You can then add hot water or milk foam using a steam wand to create other drinks.

While these machines are ideal for creating cups of exceptionally delicious coffee, including specialties, they can be fairly high maintenance and require training to operate the different components in order to make the perfect cup.

Espresso coffee machine advantages

  • Can make speciality drinks.
  • Built-in milk frother.
  • Better quality coffee.
  • Integrated grinder.

Espresso coffee machine disadvantages

  • More expensive upfront.
  • Proper training is needed. Otherwise, it can be dangerous if a novice tries to operate it.
  • Inconsistent quality, as it depends on who makes it.
  • Frequent and more intensive cleaning is needed.

5. Instant coffee machine

An instant coffee machine is what you would usually find in offices a few years ago. But, since the offering of machines has massively upgraded, these are now among the least popular. These machines use sachets of instant coffee powder stored inside the machine. Employees will simply need to press the button of the coffee they want, and the powder is then poured along with hot water into a paper cup.

Instant coffee machines are ideal for startup companies or very small businesses with few employees needing a quick fix. If you have a small office with limited space, these machines are often designed to be compact.

Instant coffee machine advantages

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Takes up very little space.
  • Less mess and cleaning involved.
  • Very cost-effective.

Instant coffee machine disadvantages

  • Lower quality coffee compared to other machines available. 
  • Sachets contain less caffeine content.
  • Not energy-efficient.

How to choose the right office coffee machine for you

Before buying an office coffee machine, you should consider a few key questions. Firstly, how big is your office? If you’re a smaller company, then a coffee machine that produces around 50 cups per day should suffice. A coffee pod or instant coffee machine may work while you have limited space and minimal staff members. These machines are also very quick and easy to use, so on a busy day of running a company, you don’t need a lot of time or brainpower to enjoy a coffee break.

For medium or larger businesses, then a machine that can produce more cups per day and has different options will likely be best. A bean-to-cup coffee machine offers barista-quality coffee along with speciality coffees at a touch of a button. Or, if your office is filled with ‘coffee snobs’, they may appreciate the more advanced espresso machine.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to coffee. So, we’d recommend talking to your employees to find out what they’d prefer. It’ll be them using the machine the majority of the time, after all. 


At Officeology, we work with leading coffee machine suppliers to give you and your employees the perfect coffee. Take a look at our office coffee machines for inspiration and get in touch if you want more information and assistance on the best choice for your business.

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