Which Super Automatic is best overall?

    I am the manager of Awake Café in Triad Baptist Church. Our church runs about 1,500 people every Sunday morning. We have 3 services one at 8:45, one at 10, and one at 11:15. In between the services our coffee shop gets flooded with mocha thirsty members for 20 minutes. We serve as many as we can with our Commercial Manuel Astoria 2 group. This machine just is not cutting it, though. We have 20 minutes to produce as many specialty coffees as we can. Everyone loves lattes as our most popular drink is the White Chocolate Mocha. Currently, We can make about 30 hot lattes in 20 minutes, and we are turning away probably 100-200 people from getting a drink every Sunday morning because our line is so long, and there is not enough time to wait and make it to the service or Sunday School on time. That is my situation, so here are my questions.

    First off, I realize there is no machine out there that can produce enough coffee for hundreds of people in 20 minutes, but I want to serve as many as I can. My baristas are volunteer, so they are no where near professional. They need buttons to push to froth milk and make espresso fast and easily. This is why I am in the market for a super automatic espresso machine 2 step, and price is not an issue. I just want to know which machine and which company is best. I have done countless hours of researching and calling people, and I am tired of it, but my search is narrowed down to 2 brands, possibly 3. I hear the top two big dogs out there are Schaerer and Franke, and they are the most used. I hear Schaerer is a little better than Franke, only because when something goes wrong, there parts are cheaper. Then there is UNIC, which from what I have heard, has only been in the states for 5 years, and they supply some Googles, Cheesecake Factorys, and Olive Gardens. There machines are made of almost all metal parts on the inside, and they are extremely expensive. Then I know little about WMF, their machines are repaired by Schaerer I think. These three are what I have come down to- Schaerer, UNIC, and WMF.

    Here are the questions I need answered: What machine is best and fastest latte producing machine for each company?  (Like Ambiente or Coffee Art plus), Are refurb machines trust worthy? How is each company's service record? How well is their customer support? Do they have parts available in the US? What major coffee shop chains do they supply? Do you know of any places that have UNICs or WMF near Kernersville, NC? Do you know places neutral technicians or neutral managers I could contact to find out more about UNIC and WMF? Now. I will go into specific detail on what I know and am curious about in each company. taking to salesman all the time gets the same result, they all think their machine is best. That is why I need third parties to help!


     Most people tell me they are the best overall. Schaerer themselves would say that the coffee Art Plus is the best machine for me, but most third party distributors say the  Ambiente PS is the way to go because it has been out longer, and there are more servicers and part available. Third parties say the Ambiente is a proven reliable machine over the past 15 years. Is that true? I love the way the Coffee Art Plus looks, though, and Schaerer says that the plus is the same as the Ambiente with more features, which is true, but with having more features do the features break or mess up more than the Ambiente? If price were a problem, Would you buy an Ambiente refurbished from a reliable comapny at half the price of a art plus? Art plus 12,500-13,500 and Ambiente refurbished 5,000-7,500. What is the best choice? I know Schaerer is reliable in every way from parts to service to performance , but I just wonder is there anything better/faster? Now, Don't forget to overall compare Schaerer with UNIC and WMF.


     UNIC scares me, because a lot of people have never heard of them, but I have yet to hear muck bad/negative about their machines, reliability, service, or parts. Plus, The Tango Duo is a 2 group super automatic and could surely out produce any one group super like the art plus if working properly. It is very expensive like 20,000+ but I would probably get it If i knew it was the best. What do you know what the UNIC machines and company? What about the Tango SOLO too? I am interested in either two SOLOs or one DUO, possibly two Duos in the future. Do you know of any coffee shop/cafe chains that have UNIC super automatics? Heard anything about UNIC putting out a new touch screen super automatic? Know cafes, hotels, business, or resturants I could contact about UNICs reliability, parts, service, and machone speed, and how they like their machine? 


     I don't even know what WMF stands for, but I know their machines are similiar to Schaerer because of the finesteam and espresso dispenser head. What have you heard about  with service, parts, machine speed, and reliability of WMF? The bistro 2 step (no chocolate) is what I am interested in. Do they supply an major chains with super automatics? Know any coffee shops, cafes, resturants, hotels, or businesses that I could contact to ask their about their machine and how they like it?

Conslusion: I am sure I am forgetting something about all the info I have gathered over two weeks, but this is most of it. I really need some input so I can finalize my search. I understand that every super automatic will need to be serviced sometime in its lifetime, but which machine needs it least? Which one has the cheapest parts? and Which has the fastest and best service? Which machine will make the most and fastest consistent lattes?

PS- Anybody know anything about the Franke Foam Master? It is there new machine coming out soon, I believe.


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I am curious to ask why or how you know Thermoplan is the superior to Franke and Schaerer? Do you think Thermoplan makes the best all around (Performance wise) super automatic espresso machine out there as of today. Ever used teh New Black&White 3?
Scott said:

I'm kind of surprised no one has mentioned Thermoplan.  Or I missed it, sorry.  Yes Bunn (the North American Rep) is a train wreck to deal with, but the machines is superior in every way to Franke, Shearer and UNIC (of which I have no personal experience with their super autos).  

I would strongly suggest purchasing two or more espresso machines in the scenario you describe.  

Also, anyone here care to pony up a real world annual maintenance and service cost for Austin?  Based upon the usage figures in his post would $2K -$4K per machine be close?  Super Autos are expensive toys after all.  

Has anyone ever heard of Eversys Super automatic espresso machines? Anyone ever used the Black&White 3 by Thermoplan?

Brady said:

Superautos are different from traditionals in one big way from a service standpoint. Any good equipment tech can walk up to ANY oddball traditional espresso machine and fumble through a repair. It may take extra time, a little searching for parts, a return trip, and some improvisation, but at the end of the day your machine is probably working. Not so with supers - many of the parts are proprietary and you usually need a card, key, or access code in order to even begin troubleshooting any problems with the robot part. Without access to the manufacturer your machine is dead in the water.

Couldn't have said it better myself!  This is something I've tried to explain to so many people in so many ways, without much success.

Austin, I have not heard of the Eversys but I just looked at them and they look a bit like the Thermoplan machines.  

I can't speak for Scott but he and I used to work together supporting a great many Thermoplan machines so I can take a stab at why he might say Thermoplan was superior.  I think it has to do with the modularity of the units.  Many of the functions of the machine are separated into mechanically discrete units that can be worked on independently. This allows for better control of the temperature of the coffee brewing water and allows greater longevity of some of the parts because they're not serving double duty, helping in both the hot water AND steam systems, for instance.

Now, in my opinion, what that gets you, the end user, is very little.  The Black & Whites still need the regular and expensive preventative maintenance like every other superauto.  And if they don't get it they break down.  Just like every other super auto.  They also have their own ideosyncracies and steep learning curve, as Eric pointed out in the quote from Brady above.  Parts and service end up being a bigger issue than individual machine performance.

The coffee they make is a *little* better than the others, when they are set up perfectly and the stars are aligned   When things are not set up perfectly and the starts are not aligned then the mediocre coffee they make is the same as every other super auto.  And even when they are pulling the best coffee they can I would never send my fancy Intelligencia Black Cat or Stumptown Hairbender espresso through them.

So, ultimately, my advice remains the same.  Talk to your tech and make sure that whatever superauto program you implement is something your tech can support with his experience and parts access.

Lets say I had access to good Franke servicers and parts and good Schaerer servicers and parts and good Thermoplan servicers and parts with Franke and Thermoplan servicers and parts being the closest to me. I do not have an issue with a servicer or parts, but I am curious now about the performance of individual machines.

Eversys was at Boston at the exhibit apparently, and they (Eversys general email address) said their product was very well received, and that makes me very curious about it.

Schaerer claims to have a modular build construction, does that make their machine on the same level as Thermoplan? (Scratch the service side of things)

Austin Lee Decker said:

Eversys was at Boston at the exhibit apparently, and they (Eversys general email address) said their product was very well received...

Of course they did.

You know, I was at the Boston exhibit too. Walked every aisle and talked to everyone that looked interesting. I don't recall seeing these guys. I wonder what name they were there under, because I don't see them on the exhibitor list. Hmmm...

Thanks for your interest!  Please reach out and give me a call with any quesitons four, one, five 310-9982.

If you go with the Tango Duo, you are essentially getting two 80mm Ditting grinders and a full sized boiler.  For service, we would include a comprehensive service plan with your machine and would take care of all the PMs, calibration, and training, etc.  

If you have a line that won't quit, then the Tango is the best available option on the market.  The Duo can do the job of 3 Coffee Arts and has great shots.  The Schaerer has good milk and is less expensive.

the Unic is built much heaver then the Shearer 

univ has a heated steal brew group, Shearer has plastic

They both have good factory support services

the They are both reliable with good track record

Unic has been in the US market longer then Sheraer 

Unic started in the US with Illy Cafe coffee going into Chess cake factory restaurants nation and world wide for years 

Sherear is based in Long Beach CA Unic in north of Seattle Washington

both on the west coast 

If you need fast high production 

look at the Unic Tango Dua

It has 2 brew groups and large  80 mm Mahlkong grinders

delivers very very fast coffee and plenty of steam power grinder 

cont me if you need to at 


I wanted to follow up my comments on your questions on the diffrent mfg and the models the different model Shearer

The Ambeante is much older technolege then the coffee Art and the Coffee Art Plus, If I was going with a Sheaer it would be the Coffee Art

Unic , Very Heavey dudy machine 

the SWolo being the heaver then the Duo

the Solo has 80 mm burrs this meansd faster gringing and more production in same time 

the heated medel brew group will last 3 times longer then a plastic Shearer 

6,5 litter boiler with 4500 to 5500 watts means none stop steam production

If you want price and reliabelity buy a Shearer

If you want High fast production and real great espresso with non stop steam buy the UNic

The new Faema X30 is also a great selection it is inbetween the Shearer and the Unic

less cost then the Unic and a lot more production and better Italian espresso then the Shearer also as large 74 mm burrs with 2 boilers one for steam one for coffee, It has self adjusting grinders with heated steal brew group like the Unic

Thermoplan machines

This company in Switzerland has been around a long time 

They make strong equipment 

it is one of the reasons Star bucks bought into the company some years ago 

there a many supersaturation machines companies in Switzerland and Germany 

some of the Swiss Co are owned by German Corporations 

There are not as many service companies supporting this company as some other main line mfg because of the small amount of broad based users 

Shearer and there syster Co WMF out of Fla. is  probably the only single mfg that has nation wide service because of there National account base 

The main line mfg from Italy that make traditional and supper automatic usually have a stronger national service net work as they work with all types of coffee operators 

and there sales go through distributes as well as factory direct on national or world wide accounts 

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