Looking for any suggestions on a machine that will work well for catering events...needs to be powerful enough to make lots of drinks without cooling down...is there one out there with a 110 instead of a 220, this always seems to be a problem?  any advice id appreciate!

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Not a lot of commercial 110v machines out there worth talking about, but there are a few. 

Rancilio makes a 2 group Epoca that is available on 110v.  Has a 11L boiler which helps keep is stable at 110V.  I was at a catered event a few weeks back where the cart had one on it.  I asked the barista/owner about it and they had nothing but good things to say.  Pace was about 1 drink every 2-3 minutes when I was at the cart which it handled no problem.  Can't speak to how it performs busier than that.  Keep in mind that pretty much every 110V commercial machine will be 20 amp, so not every outlet will work.

Classe 7's have a gas heat option that will give you enough horsepower for frothing a milk truck. 

I have seen Brasilia's, La Pavoni's, and a few others running on 110v but have no experience on them and personally recommend them or speak negatively of them. 

We use a 110 GS3 for catering. We limit our Catering menu to traditional Caps, shots or 8 oz lattes with vanilla or mocha.  By keeping the sizes small we don't have an issue with steam recovery time.

I would recommend adding a small preheater in front of the espresso machine, like a 4 gallon Ariston tank from Home Depot.  These are fairly compact, have a glass tank (no chance of rust), and work very well.  You would be surprised the difference it makes, for recovery time and stability, when your feed water is 100 + degrees going into the machine.  I haven't had it affect a pump adversely. And these things only cost $150 or so.  

I have been using a Simonelli Appia for all my catering. It has some stock temperature issues, brew water too hot. But I purchased a number of flow restrictors from the distributor and swapped them until I got the right mix. Hardly ever runs out of steam, even for a 1 group.

I love the GS3 more than anything, but for the price of that you can have several La Spaziale Vivaldi S1 machines, which can run in 15A or 20A modes running on 110 (simple, easy to switch programming selection, can be switched on-site when you see what power you have to work with,) and they pull shots right up there with GS3s and Synessos.  Can't speak to steam capacity for big rushes, but I gotta think if you had two (or a separate steam system as someone else mentioned,) you'd probably be ok.  I don't know if it's the best choice or not, but it's definitely worth a look.

I sell a lot of the Epoca from Rancilio to caterers. I do have a lot of  experience with catering and do think to get a large boiler one group 110 volt machine is a good solution. We used to bring one , two or three machines to events depending on size. We would set them up as completely different stations and that would help with line management as well.

Thanks for all the feedback.  Looks like i'll need a 220V for the type of business we are doing...the recovery time will be an issue with the smaller.  So...how do I go about setting up a 220 at a location that doesnt have a 220 available?  I've seen these setup at competitions and at hotel events that aren't hard-wired in...so whats the trick??  

Troy, what size catering are you doing...typically my events have a large rush of people at one time...so does this work for say 50-75 drinks in an hour?



Troy J Mallett said:

I have been using a Simonelli Appia for all my catering. It has some stock temperature issues, brew water too hot. But I purchased a number of flow restrictors from the distributor and swapped them until I got the right mix. Hardly ever runs out of steam, even for a 1 group.


Thanks for all the feedback.  Looks like i'll need a 220V for the type of business we are doing...the recovery time will be an issue with the smaller.  So...how do I go about setting up a 220 at a location that doesnt have a 220 available?  I've seen these setup at competitions and at hotel events that aren't hard-wired in...so whats the trick??  Ricky Sutton said:

I occasionally cater with a company that uses 2 Marzocco GS3's. They come in 110 and 220 versions. Even with 220, I wouldn't recommend catering a very busy event with only one GS3, as the steam recovery time is just too long. You could always use whatever machine you like and purchase a separate steaming unit taking turns between them. Anything 110 that I know of will certainly have steam recovery issues, as well as espresso temperature issues during high volume times.

Bluntly, I will cater any event that I am confident I will make money at. The confidence also comes with knowing how much my machines and I can put out in an hour. I typically do retail open houses and parties, where people are doing something other than wait for me to make their beverages. Often I will only offer 8oz drinks in recyclable cups so that I don't need to worry much about variations (1 12oz americano, 1 16 oz skinny latte, 1 12 oz dry cap, 1 16oz half-caff mocha with extra whipping cream at 142F divided into three cups, etc.) and I don't have to worry about doing dishes or running out of cups. It also makes it easier for billing the customer/patron, and accounting for the number of drinks made. If I need someone else to help me, either work the machine or take money, I do. Catering, in many aspects is the same as running a bar, just more portable.

I only do the events that I know I can do with stellar success, or else what is the point?

Please, someone pipe in about running a 220V machine off 110V outlet. As far as I know it is not possible, even with a step up transformer. You might be better off running several single groups. However, be careful that the service breaker in the building can handle the load of several machines, several grinders, the flowjet, etc.

Please, someone pipe in about running a 220V machine off 110V outlet. As far as I know it is not possible, even with a step up transformer. You might be better off running several single groups. However, be careful that the service breaker in the building can handle the load of several machines, several grinders, the flowjet, etc.

Short answer: NO

Longer Answer: Assuming you would not fry the electronics by plugging a 220v machine into a 110v outlet, commercial espresso machines run on 220v because they run higher wattage heating elements that are needed for making multiple drinks in short order.

Example: you run a single group La Marzocco Linea 220v.  Runs at 2500 watts.

Volts = watts/Amps

Say you have a 220 volt circuit with required 20 amp breaker

Volts = 2500w / 20amps =125Volts 

If you plug this machine into a 110v outlet:  2500w/110v= 22.73 needed amps on circuit, which from my understanding of US electrical code, does not exist.  If you ran this machine on a 110v 15 or 20 amp circuit you would likely blow the fuse, or cause so much draw through the wire that you could start a fire.  I doubt the folks who hired you to cater their event would be very happy with either outcome. 

Running two 110volt machines is an option, but you would need to run them on separate circuits to do so safely. 

I have seen many single group Rio Vania machines used successfully on 110v 20amp, but I think they are going to have some recovery lag issues.  If I were to set up a mobile cart and you want portability and quality extraction/frothing, I would seriously look into the Rancilio 2 group Epoca.

I agree with the short answer: Don't try to run a 220V machine off of a 110V outlet!

The math on the long answer is a bit fuzzy, so for anyone interested in trying to calculate their machine's specs, here's my take on such things:

There are two different types of electrical loads in an espresso machine:

1) Resistive loads (heating elements, lights, and such) These draw most of the power used by almost any espresso or coffee machine, and work electrically almost the opposite of what was described above.  If you give them less voltage, they draw LESS amps, not MORE.

2) Inductive loads (basically, electromagnetic loads, like motors and solenoid coils.)  These are a very small portion of the total power draw of an espresso machine. My understanding of inductive loads isn't quite as solid, but essentially they work as Keith described - they "try" to pull however many amps of current they need off of a given voltage in order to produce their rated power... in other words if you give them less voltage, they'll draw more amps in order to produce the same wattage.

What all this means in practical terms is that if you just hook up a 220V machine to a 110V supply, there's a chance that your motor and/or solenoid coils will draw such high amperages that they'll melt down or burn up, but they draw so little power overall that they're still not likely to trip any circuit breakers.

On the other hand, heating elements have a fixed resistance, not a fixed wattage so with two versions of ohm's law, we can see what they'll do on mis-matched power:

watts=volts*amps (also volts=watts/amps and amps=watts/volts)

volts=amps*ohms (also amps=volts/ohms and ohms=volts/amps)

So if you start with a 220V, 2500W heating element, the first step to understanding it is to determine how many ohms of resistance it has, because that's the only fixed characteristic it has:

2500W / 220V = 11.36A, so it would draw 11.36 amps at the rated voltage

220V / 11.36A = 19.36 ohms, so the resistance of the element is 19.36 ohms

Now that we know the resistance of the element, we can see what it would do on a circuit with different voltage:

110V / 19.36 ohms = 5.68A, so it would only draw 5.68 amps on a 110 volt circuit

5.68A * 110V = 625W, so it would put out 625 watts worth of heat (compared to the rated 2500W or to the 1500-1800W that would be typical for a standard 110V machine)

As you can see, the relationship between voltage and wattage for a given resistance is exponential (if you supply half the voltage, you only get one quarter the power!)  There's no real risk of drawing too much power with a 220V machine on a 110V circuit, but it would utterly useless to try, because if you somehow made it work, it would have HALF the power of a standard 110V machine (and don't forget that risk of smoking your motor and coils!)

Sorry for such a lengthy post, but it's not a simple issue to break down!  Realistically, I know that the short answer of "No" is all that was needed for this thread, but I thought I'd better explain the math in case someone reading this thread was inspired to swap heating elements and convert a machine from one voltage to another (happens a lot in my job, but I don't recommend doing it unless you know this stuff well enough that you didn't need to read this post in the first place)  Best of luck!


Keith Eckert said:

Please, someone pipe in about running a 220V machine off 110V outlet. As far as I know it is not possible, even with a step up transformer. You might be better off running several single groups. However, be careful that the service breaker in the building can handle the load of several machines, several grinders, the flowjet, etc.

Short answer: NO

Longer Answer: Assuming you would not fry the electronics by plugging a 220v machine into a 110v outlet, commercial espresso machines run on 220v because they run higher wattage heating elements that are needed for making multiple drinks in short order.

Example: you run a single group La Marzocco Linea 220v.  Runs at 2500 watts.

Volts = watts/Amps

Say you have a 220 volt circuit with required 20 amp breaker

Volts = 2500w / 20amps =125Volts 

If you plug this machine into a 110v outlet:  2500w/110v= 22.73 needed amps on circuit, which from my understanding of US electrical code, does not exist.  If you ran this machine on a 110v 15 or 20 amp circuit you would likely blow the fuse, or cause so much draw through the wire that you could start a fire.  I doubt the folks who hired you to cater their event would be very happy with either outcome. 

Running two 110volt machines is an option, but you would need to run them on separate circuits to do so safely. 

I have seen many single group Rio Vania machines used successfully on 110v 20amp, but I think they are going to have some recovery lag issues.  If I were to set up a mobile cart and you want portability and quality extraction/frothing, I would seriously look into the Rancilio 2 group Epoca.

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