Restaurant Coffee Machines Cost: Which option is best for your coffee shop?

Restaurant Coffee Machines Cost: All The Options Explained

It is estimated that 3-4 restaurant or coffee shops open every day in South Africa. The allure of owning one’s own restaurant or coffee shop is often an exciting prospect despite the fact that it can be one of the most challenging business around. When starting a coffee shop, owners are often faced with a plethora of restaurant coffee machine options and we have tried to make choosing a coffee machine for one’s coffee shop that much easier by detailing all the restaurant coffee machine options in this post as well the difference in restaurant coffee machines cost.

Traditional Coffee Machines Overview:

Traditional coffee machines are still the most popular type of coffee machine used in coffee shops today in South Africa. Traditional coffee machine haven’t changed much since the advent of the first traditional machines back in the 1950’s. Traditional or manual coffee machines, as they are otherwise known, can be recognised by their large rectangular metal frame accompanied by a grinder, portafilter and knock box.

knock box
knock box
traditional coffee machine

Manual coffee machines are required to be operated by trained baristas who control the grind level (how coarse or fine the coffee beans get ground) as well as the degree of tamp. The degree of tamp refers to how compressed the coffee beans are in a portafilter.

Markets advanced in their coffee culture have for the most part made their move to automatic coffee machines as the quality of the end result of coffee depends a lot on the Barista in the traditional model whereas in the automatic coffee system the coffee is consistent each time and not dependant at all on the operator. The other reason why the switch has occurred has a lot to do with the disparity of the ongoing running costs of each system – A traditional system required an experienced barista to operate it which adds a considerable cost to the coffee making process whereas an automatic coffee machine just needs a press of button to create one’s coffee.

For more info on traditional coffee machines you can view La Cimbali’s website here (La Cimbali Coffee Machines) La Cimbali has for many years been one of the leading manufacturers of traditional coffee machines worldwide.

Traditional Coffee Machines Cost:

Traditional coffee machines are more expensive than automatic coffee machines. Two group manual coffee machines start at around R20,000 and three group machines begin at around the R30,000 mark.

The corresponding rentals are around R700 and R900 for the two group and three group machines respectively.


The reason why traditional coffee machines are still so expensive is because of the large amount of metal required to create these units. Also economies of scale in production means millions of automatic coffee machines can be produced by machinery whereas traditional machine manufacture has remained a very hands on manual process.

Automatic Coffee Machines Overview:

Automatic coffee machines are coffee machines where the extraction process – Grinding of beans, tamping of coffee and extraction all happens automatically. The frothing process is sometimes automatic and sometimes manual depending on the automatic option selected.

Automatic coffee machines consist of a bean hopper (where the coffee beans are stored) together with an internal grinder, tamper and ejection unit which runs the whole extraction process.

Jura Cool Control

Automatic coffee machine sales have grown year on year in the hospitality industry whereas traditional machine sales have decreased year on year. European markets have about 80% of new coffee shops which use automatic coffee machines instead of manual ones.

Starbucks made waves in the coffee industry when they themselves replaced all their traditional coffee machines in their 21,160 stores worldwide with automatic coffee machines back in 2012.

McDonalds (McCafes) also have adopted automatic coffee machines worldwide.

There are many famous name brands producing industrial automatic coffee machines including Gaggia, Jura, Schaerer, WMF and Sprada

Commercial Automatic Coffee Machines Cost:

Automatic coffee machines start at around R10,000 for smaller units and go up to around R40,000 for larger more industrial versions. Automatic coffee machines are sized for a number of different coffee shop sizes meaning restaurants can pick the right coffee machine size which suits them at each particular time in their business lifecycle.

Corresponding rental prices for automatic coffee shop machines range from R290 p/m – R1500 p/m


The debate regarding which option is better (automatic vs manual) has raged on for many a year in the coffee industry. At the end of the day it is a lot about preference and what it is important to your particular restaurant.

The pros of automatic is the consistency of the coffee and the ease of use of the machines whereas the pros of manual include the ability to control every aspect of the coffee making process.

In the end each coffee shop owner must decide which option is most suitable for him/her.

For more info regarding vending vs automatic please see our article below:

The difference between Automatic and Vending Coffee Machines