Hi All, New to this group.  Already learned alot.  Question of the day:  New or used espresso equipment?  The coffee roaster/supplier I'd like to deal with wants me to buy my equipment from them, but that means a rather large down payment, then payments for 12 - 18 months on new equipment.  I'd rather buy higher-end used equipment up front, but I'm concerned about service and training, etc. I am new to the entire coffee business.  Thoughts please ... 

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One of the coolest things I ever heard (and it was here on BE) was instead of buying a group 3 machine buy two, two group machines... that way if one goes down, you're still in business.

As for used equipment, we have purchased items on eBAY that are flawless and still running to this day and... we've purchased new that have arrived broken/damaged and missing parts.... it's the luck of the draw.

Of course with new, you have the advantage of support... if you're making payments... they are going to keep that machine working for you.

If you are completely new to the business, I might go with new machine on the payment plan for the reasons stated above... once you've got your feet wet and know what to look for... then you can shop in the used market.

Marek
What equipment is your roaster recommending? How much up front and what will your payments be? Every situation is different and you have to take cash flow into account but I always recommend buying your own equipment that way you are not beholden to anyone. Owning your own stuff allows you to hold your roaster accountable for ongoing quality, it gives you the flexibility to make the decision that you like roaster X's drip coffee but just love roaster Y's espresso blend.
Thanks for the comments. Roaster is recommending an Astoria Pratic two group. They are encouraging an entire package that also includes brewers, blender, two grinders, and two water filtration systems plus accessories. $4000 down, $400 per month for 18 months.
Your willing to pay $11200.00 for a two group machine two grinders and about $400 worth of extras. That would not work for me but im pretty cheep.

There are also options to rent equipment for getting started. The up front is MUCH less and you can rent for a year to see how you like the equipment AND the industry.
Echo what Jason said above about not being "beholden" to anyone, but also, I'd say it depends on your business' focus. If you're all about the coffee and that espresso machine is going to be bringing in the majority of your revenue, it seems to make sense to buy the best and most stable machine $$ can buy. I know a lot of people are into used equipment, and I agree that like a car, it can make good financial sense... BUT, I don't know if I'd trust a used machine that's supposed to be the heart of my business. Have you seen how some people maintain their machines?! It can border on abuse!

On the other hand, if coffee is just one component of a diverse cafe menu, and you're doing smoothies, sandwiches, soups, etc... well perhaps you could get away with used equipment, but make sure you price it out elsewhere to make sure it really is a good deal.
Are you willing to give us a little more info on the rest of the package? It sounds like they are about to rape your wallet. You can grab that machine for $4,500 bucks, grinders are workhorses that you can definitely grab used if you are willing to clean them... blenders are... well blenders :/ and filtration systems are like $500 for killer setups (check out Mavia and of course Everpure).

This *aaallll* depends on the type of equipment in the package... but as a crap shoot lets say:
$4,500 for new machine
$400 for blender
$700 for brewers
= $5,600. They had better be throwin' in some Roburs or somethin' as far as grinders go to make it worth $10,000 ish.

In your first 18 months they want you to add an extra $7200 to your costs... haha... no. Sorry, but it just doesn't make sense to me. Your first 18 months is when you are going to hurt the most you want as few extra expenses as possible.

That being said, if you don't know how to spot problems and aren't too mechanically inclined, every time one of these things goes down (machine, grinder, whatever) so does your cash register. In your first 18 months, you certainly don't want a used machine going down.

Personally I'd look at used, but I've also been around a lot of used equipment and I am confident in fixing things.

Do your homework on some used equipment and save yourself some major $$. PM me if you want some more info or whatever

-bry
Ok, here's the breakdown of equipment and why I'm in need of all your expert advice.
- Astoria Pratic SAE 2 ($4,600.)
- Cuno Ion-Filter ($180.)
- (1) Astoria Automatic Espresso Grinder ($1,380.)
- Bunn CWTF Twin-APS, GF Airpot Brewer ($1,952.)
- Bunn Easy Clear Water Filter System ($180)
- Bunn G2 Heavy Duty Bulk Grinder ($1,282.)
- Steaming Pitchers, Whip Cream Dispenser, N2O Whip It Chargers, Knock Box With Stainless Steel Holder, Espresso Tamper, Frothing Thermometer, Grouphead Cleaning Brush, Shot Glasses, Stainless Steel Thermal Beverage Servers, Cappuccino Spatula, Bunn 2.5 Liter Glass-Lined Airpots, Bunn Universal-6 Airpot Rack, Foam Spoon, Spout Cleaning Brush, Urnex Cafiza Espresso Machine Cleaner, and Urnex Café Wipz Coffee Equipment Cleaning Wipes. ($1000.)
Total – $10,574 plus interest

I'm opening in 8 -10 weeks, one way or the other. Doing it on a shoe string budget of $17,000. I have an excellent location,good business and marketing plan, great community support. Building owners are remodeling (800 sq. ft), will take about 4 - 6 weeks though I'm footing a chunk of the bill. Though my main business will be coffee, I'm not an expert (yet) so will be learning as I go. Muffins, bagels, etc. for breakfast, and will have a couple of soup and sandwich specials each day. Everything has to be done behind the counter and I'd like it to be healthy. Trying to be unique, as we all are. The vibe is early 20th century with a modern edge. My main focus is for this place to be THE place to meet, talk, share, etc.

Because we don't have another coffee shop in our downtown (small city & township of 20,000 plus tourist trade in central PA), I'm trying to appeal to alot of people. Suppose we'll see how things shake out after the first year. I'll be the main worker, supplemented by a few helpers that I will train extensively (my thing is customer service). Hours 7a - 9p (Mon-Sat)

Too much info, I know. I appreciate any and all feedback. Wished I could clone you all and have you here for the next six months. Thanks.
i'm curious as to why you're asking for our opinions when you're planning on opening in 8-10 weeks - that's not near enough time to get all your things together.

looking at that list, i'd say you're overpaying for schwag equipment. but if you're opening in 8-10 weeks you likely have your mind made up.

my advice would be to not rush this, back off, take your time, and then ask for our opinions so you can weigh the options and make the right choice. it will decrease your chance of failure by a large margin.
In my opinion, some of this equipment is definitely overpriced, and of marginal quality. Especially for some of the small ware components, you'd do much better shopping it yourself at Espresso Supply, Espresso Parts, or Visions. The thought of a cappuccino spatula makes me cringe btw.

If you are opening a shop where your "main business will be coffee", and you are not yet an expert, you are already starting w/ a handicap. I couldn't fathom opening a coffee shop without having first attended a trade show and networked extensively with other experts in the industry. I've been to 3 shows, and just now feeling ready to embark on my venture. Probably the best thing you could do for yourself right now is to cough up some cash and get yourself over to the SCAA show in Anaheim Apr. 15-18.
Man, at the very least I would cut out that Bunn airpot brewer and do either press pots or drip made to order. You'll save almost two grand up front and a LOT of money on waste in the long run.

I also agree with Jared that taking some time off to become an expert would be beneficial. Rather than risking making mistakes, you can likely have a very safe opening if you spend more time planning.
Jared and I kind of talked this over a little bit and I gotta tell you, he is spot on... it took me like 4 hours to write this in between customers at work, but here ya go:

Let the wallet raping begin...

If I were you I would look around at how much that equipment costs from places that rebuild and refurbish them... I think you'd be surprised how much your roaster is marking stuff up. Yes, those prices are certainly in line for brand spanking new equipment, but you said yourself you'd rather purchase higher end used, and I totally agree with that. Most places that sell refurbished equipment supply you with a warranty anyway, and usually it's about 18 months.

Go ahead and type those products into an ebay search and see what you come up with. No, ebay most certainly is not the most reputable source for equipment, if anything it's the least reputable, but I think you'll start to see what I'm talking about.

They're taking your wallet for a joy-ride and none of that equipment is all that special.

You don't need a twin airpot brewer, the heating elements in those can't recover fast enough if you brew 2 at the same time anyway. And if you ever get to the point that you actually need 150(ish) ounces of brewed coffee at a time, good for you, but I'd be surprised if you could move that much in the hour or so before the flavor started to fade. A single brewer can be had for like $500 bucks. Regarding the 6 rack airpot holder: why in the hell would you want 6 airpots of brewed coffee sitting around?! Think about how much you are going to waste! Do yourself a favor and pour out about 6 ounces of coffee from an airpot every 10 minutes. Let that coffee sit for 10 minutes and then taste it (then pull out the next sample and let that sit for 10 minutes). You go ahead and decide when the coffee loses most of it's character, and I'm betting you'll realize that's right around 40-50 minutes. There is not a chance in hell that you'll need 6 airpots brewed or that you'll need a twin brewer to do it. That's all I'll say about that. I wouldn't do airpots at all, that being said, if you are going to do airpots so be it, but at least do airpot coffee justice.

The "Astoria Automatic Grinder" is most likely a rebadged Rossi, which is a pathetic grinder for a main grinder and can be had for $700 new. For $1400 I'd be looking to get a "Buy it Now" Mazzer Major (and possibly a Major Electronic).

Almost $1300 for a Bunn G2? They've gotta be kidding. You can get a gently used Bunn almost anywhere and you'll save yourself $800. (Seriously type in "Bunn G2" into an auction site). And you don't need a G2, if you weren't aware.

Jared and James' last paragraphs have it right, but I'm willing to take it a little further. If this is the first time that you are looking up information on equipment like this you aren't even close to ready to do this, no matter how determined you are. That isn't meant to be a slam on you at all, I'm just letting you know you are probably going to get buried if you jump in like this. You need to do some homework. I understand that this thread is you "doing some homework" but this should have been done about a year ago, not 2 months before you turn on the open sign.

I'm not trying to put you down, but I am trying to scare you out of this deadline you've put yourself on... from what I'm hearing and interpreting (which, admittedly isn't much... so far I know you as deep as two online posts can tell me) you aren't ready for this just yet. I think you will be, but don't rush it. Your bank account will thank you.

-bry
Thanks everyone, Appreciate your honesty. You're right. I do have more work to do. Re-read my original post and I do sound delusional. Just to clarify; I've been researching and planning for months, but this is the first discussion group I've joined. I've been focused on meeting coffee roasters in my area, talking to and working with coffee shop owners in the region, pricing of supplies and getting the location secured.

I have been all over e-bay and everywhere else researching coffee equipment. Unfortunately, the shops around here got their equipment from their roasters new, so that's what they are promoting. Thus the post about this topic. I know great equipment is important, but it sounds like it's less important than who and how it's being used. I'll keep you posted.

jas

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