Howdy. I’m looking for a fully automatic espresso machine to start serving drinks at a event I run every Sunday night. There are around 200 people that come every time. I don’t except that amount to order drinks, but still a good amount. My budget is up to $500. I use to work at starbucks for 2 years so I know how to make all the drinks just need help finding a good machine. If anyone knows of one please let me know! Thanks!

Andrew

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...*swallows hard*...

You aren't going to find a working commercial machine for $500... ever.

If you worked at Starbucks for two years and think you know *anything* you are sorely mistaken.

And that's all I'll say about that.

-bry
fully automatic = lame.
$500 = impossible.
2yrs at starbucks = 2yrs at starbucks
i don't call myself a chef because i worked the kitchen at olive garden for 2 yrs.

Ok... lets get a little perspective.

If you assume only half of your attendees got drinks over the span of 2 hours, you'd need to bang out a drink every two-ish minutes... so you are out of prosumer machine territory, probably out of single group territory too.

$500 is about enough to buy an ok prosumer espresso grinder, or a used commercial grinder if you get lucky. Just the grinder.

Annual maintenance alone on some of the little commercial superautos is about $500. Forget about trying to buy one for that. Think more along the 2 grand ballpark for small used traditional machine plus grinder, plus parts and work by a tech.

...Plus a bit of time learning how to use said traditional machine to make drinks. Despite your prior experience, you're going to need to learn how to properly operate a traditional machine... which is probably harder than you'd been led to believe.

The sort of small traditional commercial machine you'd find used for $500 would need another couple of hundred worth of work before it was usable. And a minor miracle. You might get lucky, but that seems pretty unlikely.

Honestly, its time to rethink your concept a bit.

Good luck.
Alright Lighten-up! I've about had enough of the elitist anti-starbucks crap you all have given some of these well meaning people! Think about this: Starbucks taught America to pay more than .60 for coffee. I've seen this board attack well meaning person after well meaning person with attacks and no creative discussion. Just cause Starbucks is the biggest out there, doesn't mean you have to go attacking their workers and fans. I have no problem with Starbucks. In fact, I invite them to my shop to see if what they do is better thin mine. If mine wasn't better I never would have opened. I don't need to get into a pissing contest with them. But apparently some of you don't measure up so you have to attack someone making $7.50 an hour wearing a green apron.

Andrew: $500 is way way way too little for a working espresso machine. If your budget is $500, I'd suggest going and buying the coffee from a shop with and agreement that they would brew and rent you a Cambro, brew the coffee, sell you cups, sugar, cream, etc for a price. It'll just be black coffee, but you can afford to do that. Most shops I have worked with will rent you a 4.5 gallon Cambro (or the like), coffee, cups, sugar, etc. for around $100 each. Some less and some more. Hopefully that actually helps.
First, I would like to say that i am both a new-ish barista and new to this forum.

Andrew, I don't have the experience or knowledge to help you out, but I would like to say that I think it is wonderful that you came here for advice. I hope that the harsh responses to your post don't drive you away from this forum and the mainly high quality information that it can generate.

next: I hope that the people on this forum believe, as i do, that the purpose of these discussions is to further knowledge and appreciation of high quality coffee and espresso. it concerns me that when people who have different backgrounds or possibly incorrect information post here that they are treated with condensation and disrespect. I am in no way questioning your experience or expertise, but when you respond so negatively it gives the community a bad reputation.

Thank you guys
--Indigo
i'm not questioning his expertise.

but would you treat someone seriously who walked into a BMW dealership and wanted, say, a used 2007 750i for $2,000? you would laugh at them, right? so superautos go new for $17,000+, and he wants a decent used one for $500 or less. that's ridiculous. and while BMW's produce a quality driving experience, superautomatics do not produce a quality espresso experience, which makes it worse.
+1 lol

Jared Rutledge said:
i'm not questioning his expertise.

but would you treat someone seriously who walked into a BMW dealership and wanted, say, a used 2007 750i for $2,000? you would laugh at them, right? so superautos go new for $17,000+, and he wants a decent used one for $500 or less. that's ridiculous. and while BMW's produce a quality driving experience, superautomatics do not produce a quality espresso experience, which makes it worse.
Eric Hammond said:
Alright Lighten-up! I've about had enough of the elitist anti-starbucks crap you all have given some of these well meaning people!

The simple truth is that his experiences pushing the button at Starbucks probably won't be helpful in maintaining, cleaning, and adjusting a super-auto machine. It absolutely won't help him getting his $500 super-auto refurbished enough to make a single shot. And it will be of absolutely no help in operating a standard espresso machine, be it a semi-auto or an auto.
And the truth is probably the most helpful thing that we could give this person at this point. The fact that Starbucks comes off looking all the worse for it from these simple facts is if their doing, not ours.
And super-autos make mediocre espresso when their well-maintained, and in good shape. One that is getting offed for a fiver is probably going to be a monumental task to get working at all, much less working well, and coddling this guy into thinking that he has a plan is wrong.
OTOH, Starbucks has pretty much gone down the paper-hat route, and deserve the scorn that they get. Same with MacDonald's, Jack in the Box, and City-Wok. It's because the put out a product that is cookie-cutter repeatable, and made with the cheapest components with the largest profit margin as their only goal.
And Howard Schultz was able to look me right in the eye and lie right to me, with his right hand still in mind.
Never can trust a man that'll shake your hand, look you in the eye, and lie right to ya.
Alright. You guys, Chris, Jared, Bry and and Kevin are being DOUCHE BAGS. Stop it. I am ashamed to be counted as a coffee industry profesional if your behavior is what it means to be such.

Andrew came to the forum trying to take part in this coffee conversation. He asked a real question that he was actually interested in. He is looking for help in getting started in his post-starbucks coffee career and what he gets is a couple arrogant, snide comments about the fact that he worked for Starbucks. I worked for Starbucks for five years and I dare you to belittle my knowlege. The fact is that MOST baristas and coffee industry people got their start in Starbucks or at least cycled through the big, green mermaid's bosom at some point in their career. The fact is that Starbucks is the ONLY exposure many people in America have to specialty coffee AT ALL. If new people are to take part in the growing coffee culture in the US then they need a better experience of what "professionals" in the industry are like than what you are offering in this thread. There are loads of good people in that company and I find it incredible that otherwise smart people like yourselves would overlook and dismiss a person just because you're jealous of Starbuck's success or tilting at your favorite corporate windmill.

And for the record, if any of you have trolled Craigslist for espresso equipment you know that machines show up for $500 and under all the time. What Andrew is looking for is not impossibe. Jeeezus. Get off yer high horse.
a) internet. serious business.

b) i wasn't making fun of his starbucks experience. i worked there once, and i understand starbucks is a complex issue.

c) if he finds a professional superautomatic in good condition that is similar to what he used at starbucks for under $500 on craigslist, i will compete at next year's SERBC using a canned Starbucks Doubleshot (tm) for a signature drink.

d) when in doubt, refer to point A (and the fact that we usually give intelligent and serious answers to intelligent and serious questions on this forum)
lol, Jumping off the horse now. I am so super jealous of Starbucks success. You're right. They do lots of good things for the industry. What was I thinking? I also think Red Lobster does fantastic things for the restaraunt industy. And Jiffy Lube for the auto repair industry. And Budweiser is the best thing to happen to micro brewed beer.

Wow it hurts to type this.

Sorrry but overpriced garbage thrown down the publics throat is nothing but that. OVERPRICED GARBAGE.

People who make a killing ripping others off (by buying cheap coffee, low quality food products, or just telling grandma she needs new brakes, and a radiator flush when its not necessary) do not deserve any credit for the industry in which they are a part of.

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