Renting vs Buying A Coffee Machine for a Coffee Shop: The Pro’s and Con’s Explained

Renting vs Buying A Coffee Machine for a Coffee Shop: The Pro’s and Con’s Explained

Coffee shops and café’s are popping up everywhere, from side-walks to shopping centres, within beauty salons and even retail stores. It’s plain to see people not only want their coffee – they NEED it, and they need it to be easily accessible.

Now most major coffee chains (with the likes of Mugg & Bean, Starbucks etc.) are bound by the chain to make use of a specific type of coffee machine; this is great – as the chain itself foots the bill for the purchase of the machine, they pay for the repairs and maintenance and they well-trained staff permanently manning the machines. Most of these machine types are manual – i.e. – coffee is ground separately, extracted with a certain level of skill and the milk is frothed separately and by hand of the operator.

But what if you’re a small or medium sized coffee shop, who does not employ specific people to man the stations and operate those machines continually? What if, for example, you’re a group of 5 colleagues – prepping food, manning reception, serving and also making the coffee? You’re going to need to consider an automatic coffee machine that does all the work for you.

The answer seems simple enough – you’ve solved the dilemma of needing an extra set of salaried hands to work your coffee machine. But now the next question – almost equal in importance – is “do I rent or do I buy the machine”?

Buying a Coffee Machine for a Coffee Shop

You’ve likely already laid out quite a large sum of money getting your shop fitted, kitted and decked out. You’re paying new staff, your overheads are still undetermined and you likely also don’t have a wad of endless cash laying around to play with. That being said – the chances you have R 40 000.00 – R 70 000.00 sitting waiting to be spent on buying a coffee machine are slim.

If you do – will you have the capital at hand to service that machine, to maintain it – and to risk the possibility of losing business if (or when) your machine goes on the fritz – and you have no choice but to sit without it for sometimes up to a week while the manufacturer has it returned to their workshop to be repaired?

You probably answered no to a lot of those questions.

The last thing we even consider is if that machine is going to serve your needs for as long as you have clientèle. What I mean by this is that say for instance you purchase a medium-sized coffee machine. It works excellently for about 6 months. All of a sudden, someone reviews your coffee shop – and your foot traffic doubles, triples – or even quadruples. You now have queues forming out your door and that poor little coffee machine – thinking it “was the tank who could” – is straining, almost crying out trying to keep up with your daily cup count. What then? Do you buy another? That’s a lot of time and money to invest in a coffee machine – and a lot of stress and “what if’s” to carry around.

However, if you do have the capital to purchase a machine and are guaranteed servicing and support – grab it with both hands.

Renting a Coffee Machine for a Coffee Shop

Renting a coffee machine is sometimes the wiser option when you’re opening a café or a coffee shop. Working off the matters we discussed above, let’s look at the flip side of each situation:

Money money money. Renting means you’re going to be paying a set amount each month – no initial upfront lump sum payment at all. This allows your cash-flow the ease of comfort to use some – but not all of it in one go. Finding a machine in your price range that suits your current needs is actually really easy – provided you put some effort into your research.

Renting a machine also comes with a lot of value added features. These usually include a service and maintenance plan – so if that machine decides to go on strike on day and stop working – you’ll have a technician dispatched to solve the issue. If it still won’t cooperate after that – the company you’re renting from should send you a replacement machine, too. This means no downtime – no angry customers, no loss of income for the day.

Changing needs are a reality – so when your coffee shops becomes the Justin Bieber of caffeine-producing liquid happiness – and your foot traffic increases – you have options! Either upgrade your machine for a bigger one – one that is more capable of handling more cups per day, even two cups at a time. If that option doesn’t tickle your fancy, you could add another machine to your existing account – winner winner chicken dinner!

Or, you could do the opposite – if you downscale your shop – you can downscale your machine.

In conclusion – if you’re a small business starting up – rather consider renting a coffee machine than buying one. It will be far less of a financial strain and risk – just make sure you DO have the capital to cover the monthly rentals on whichever machine you choose 🙂