Hi group,

I'm brand new to the group and I am just in the process of researching a mobile coffee business.  I've happened upon what looks like a real nice commercial 2 group La Spaziale machine for sale.  This is supposedly in real good condition, and looks like it in the photos, and is used very infrequently at a bookstore.  It's about 5 years old, but they don't know what model it is or much else.  Supposedly they only use it about 2 or 3 times a week.  From the picture the closest current model I can find is an "Alice" It's very close, but there is an additional knob on the bottom of this machine.  I haven't been able to find a lot of info on this machine on-line.  They are asking $1,000, but I think I can get it for less - maybe $750.  Being a complete newby to the coffee business I was thinking about more of an automatic machine, but if I can get it for $750 I'm thinking about jumping on it.  I figure I can always resell it if necessary and recoup my money.

Any thoughts about this.  BTW I appologize if this posts in the wrong place, I haven't figured out the forum.

 

Thanks

Tom

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I've got several of these out in the field.  It's a "New EK".  It's a pretty good machine and makes pretty good coffee.  The big unknown is what kind of water has it had for the last 5 years.  If it has sat with unfiltered water you could have some problems in there.  Some pretty big ones.  If the establishment was good about taking care of the water filtration then you are probably in the clear and the unit would even be worth the $1000.  If the unit has not been fed filtered water then you could be looking at a full on rebuild to bring it back to life.  Which, in itself, could cost you $600-$1000.  The frames on those are painted steel.  Make sure to take the drain tray off and look for rust and calcium build up on the water lines and exposed frame pieces that are under there.  You should also find out it's electrical rating.  Since you are building a mobile cart/trailer you will want to take special note of the voltage/amperage required to run it, since you will be working with a limited supply.  The more electricity you add you your mobile unit the more money up front it requires.  And you've still got refridgerators, grinders, lights, and everything else to run.

 

All said, buying a used espresso machine is a lot like buying a used car.  If you are confident in asessing its condition and know what you are looking at then you can find some great deals.  If you don't know what you are looking at and are only looking at the shiny outer stainless steel panel then you can end up buying your self $$$$$ worth of trouble.  As you are looking for espresso machines and coffee equipment you should also be looking for a good tech/service company.  If you find a good tech they might be able to hook you up with some decent, reliable equipment.  The added bonus of that is that they will know how to work on whatever they find and know where to get parts.

Thanks for the informed reply Mike.  I thought that if I can get it at $750 it is too good a deal to pass up.  Sounds like it's maybe only worth the $1,000 at best.  I do have an estimate, that I think is reasonable, for most of the coffee equipment I need and it includes an Astoria Gloria SAE1 - 1 Group Automatic Espresso Machine.  Maybe as a complete newby I should stick to something like that - do you agree?  I am very mechanically inclined and could probably take care of any basic maintenance issues with a used machine, but I'm more concerned about making consistantly good espresso drinks and I'm thinking a newer automatic or semi-automatic machine might be better suited for that considering my lack of experience. 

 

Mike Sabol said:

I've got several of these out in the field.  It's a "New EK".  It's a pretty good machine and makes pretty good coffee.  The big unknown is what kind of water has it had for the last 5 years.  If it has sat with unfiltered water you could have some problems in there.  Some pretty big ones.  If the establishment was good about taking care of the water filtration then you are probably in the clear and the unit would even be worth the $1000.  If the unit has not been fed filtered water then you could be looking at a full on rebuild to bring it back to life.  Which, in itself, could cost you $600-$1000.  The frames on those are painted steel.  Make sure to take the drain tray off and look for rust and calcium build up on the water lines and exposed frame pieces that are under there.  You should also find out it's electrical rating.  Since you are building a mobile cart/trailer you will want to take special note of the voltage/amperage required to run it, since you will be working with a limited supply.  The more electricity you add you your mobile unit the more money up front it requires.  And you've still got refridgerators, grinders, lights, and everything else to run.

 

All said, buying a used espresso machine is a lot like buying a used car.  If you are confident in asessing its condition and know what you are looking at then you can find some great deals.  If you don't know what you are looking at and are only looking at the shiny outer stainless steel panel then you can end up buying your self $$$$$ worth of trouble.  As you are looking for espresso machines and coffee equipment you should also be looking for a good tech/service company.  If you find a good tech they might be able to hook you up with some decent, reliable equipment.  The added bonus of that is that they will know how to work on whatever they find and know where to get parts.

Hi Tom,

 

What I meant to imply in my post is that the La Spaziale is actually a very good machine and it makes excellent coffee.  If the La Spaziale has had good water for the duration of its life then I think even at $1000 you would be doing well.  $750 would be a steal.  There are a couple larger issues, however.

 

Any used machine, if hard water was run through it, is a money sink waiting to happen.  Even if you're mechanically inclined there is a learning curve with any specific machine.  The devil is always in the details and if you don't know specifically what you are looking at in regards to a used machine then you risk buying a refurbishment project.

 

The La Spaziale and the Astoria you mentioned are both volumetric units and both will essentially behave the same as far as consistency of product go.  (Assuming that you have consistent technique.)  I actually prefer the shots from a La Spaziale over the Astoria but that is a personal preference.  I have had good and bad shots from both.  The larger issue in this case is support after the sale.  As I mentioned before, there is a learning curve to any piece of equipment, for the sake of your business continuity I recommend buying a machine from your local service tech company so that they know how to work on it and where to get parts.  Until you have traveled the learning curve for your equipment you will still be relying on them to keep you going in case of emergency.  If they are unfamiliar with the equipment then they have to travel the learning curve, as well.

 

So the short answer is; Buy the equipment you have reliable local support for.

The offer that I'm currently making with my two-group is that I will take it to the local Espresso Kit Repair Experts and have them assess it's working condition as soon as their check clears.  Necessary repairs would be paid for and the inspection comes out of my end.

This way, they are assured that they are getting a machine in great working order for the price that they've negotiated.  I've already included the cost of the inspection and a regular cleaning maintenance (screens/gaskets, etc.) in the purchase price, and I'm confident enough in my regular (anal retentive!) maintenance and cleaning, and that I've dealt with the water filtration issue adequately, that I'm positive that I'm not going to be losing all my profit in repairs.

I'm also confident that I won't be turning over a money pit to a potential stalker!

Chris - Is that your LaSpaz for sale or are you just outlining how you like like to do used equipment deals?

Chris said:

The offer that I'm currently making with my two-group is that I will take it to the local Espresso Kit Repair Experts and have them assess it's working condition as soon as their check clears.  Necessary repairs would be paid for and the inspection comes out of my end.

This way, they are assured that they are getting a machine in great working order for the price that they've negotiated.  I've already included the cost of the inspection and a regular cleaning maintenance (screens/gaskets, etc.) in the purchase price, and I'm confident enough in my regular (anal retentive!) maintenance and cleaning, and that I've dealt with the water filtration issue adequately, that I'm positive that I'm not going to be losing all my profit in repairs.

I'm also confident that I won't be turning over a money pit to a potential stalker!

Sorry Mike, I can see how you might have misunderstood.  No, I'm sellingm a complete other Astoria, but I was illustrating how I've set up the deal so everyone is comfortable with it. 

This way, you don't have to take anyone's word for it with the exception of the trained professional.


Mike Sabol said:

Chris - Is that your LaSpaz for sale or are you just outlining how you like like to do used equipment deals?

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