How to choose the right coffee machine for your church.

Updated: May 4, 2020

The world of coffee machines is a big one (and can be an expensive one if your not careful!) so we've put together this handy little guide to help you start to explore what sort of machines would work for your church.

Types of machines

There is wide choice of machines out there you can use to make great coffee in your church setting, but before we talk about the machines, it's important you remember: you'll only get great tasting coffee if you use great quality coffee. You simply can't skimp here and hope for the best, it'll disappoint you and you'll be wasting any investment you made on your equipment. The good news here is that Distribution Coffee only supply high quality coffee's, and it gets even better because we supply churches at lower costs. So you can enjoy incredible coffee to help refresh your church hospitality, for less.

There are quite a few types of brewing methods, but some of these simply aren't suitable for use in most church settings (they are single serve sizes for example) so we'll focus on the ones most likely to be appropriate in your church setting:

  • Filter coffee machines

  • Espresso based machines

  • Cafetiere or French press methods

  • Bean to cup machines

Filter coffee machines

These machines come in all shapes and sizes, but put simply they are by far the most popular, simplest and cost effective machines going. These come in a whole variety of sizes, from domestic to standard 1.7/2 litre jug sizes which produce good coffee, simply. The most popular machines are the 1.7-2 litre machines which come as self contained units (require no fixed plumbing or electrics) - you simply plug it in a standard UK socket, fill the jug with water, pour into the machine, add our 60g coffee sachet and press "on" - wait just 5 minutes and you've got a pot of high quality, low cost coffee ready to serve.

One of the features of these machines we really see working time and time again in churches is its ability to hold 2 pot's of coffee and keep them warm on the 2 self regulating warming plates. This works really well in small-medium churches because whilst you are serving using 1 pot of coffee, the other one can be brewing (remember it only takes 5 minutes!) so by the time you have used the first pot, the second is ready - then if required, you just refill and brew another pot at the same time. So you have an unending flow of really good, super fresh coffee, without waste and expensive equipment or plumbing and electrics.

We think these coffee machines (aka coffee brewers) are brilliant pieces of kit because not only are they strong and reliable machines, they are really flexible in how they can be used. We find churches tend to have a couple in busier settings because they can serve a whole load of people in one go, but have added flexibility in that you only need to brew the right amount of coffee for the number of people your serving. Having just a smaller meeting or want fresh coffee in your office? No problem! Simply brew only one jug and leave the other machine turned off ready for your next Sunday refreshments. This reduces cost, wastage, power use and tidying up time!

Some of the other benefits of these machines:

  • Really easy to self-service descale: you can do this 2 ways: either run a jug of water through with white vinegar (get ready for the chip shop smell though!) or use a ready made descaler powder and do the same. Either way keeps your machine in tip top condition, stops limescale building up and promises years and years of low cost incredible coffee!

  • Plug and play: no hard electrical wiring or expensive plumbing solutions with these machines. They can be put almost anywhere you are going to want coffee: in kitchens, kitchenettes, meeting rooms, offices, receptions - the skies the limit! Not any does this mean they are super flexible and future proof, but cheaper to buy and use.

  • Low purchase cost: as the cheapest type of commercial machines, we supply these at under £199. Not only are they low cost, but because they are so simple and strong they will last many years - so you don't need to worry about expensive servicing options. The only service this machine is ever likely to need is an easy and quick descale every couple of months, just like your kettle. What a brilliant machine!

  • Easy to use: no complicated instructions for volunteers to work out, simply fill with water, add your coffee and turn it on with the 1 switch button - this is a great choice for anyone looking for a simple to use machine that delivers great coffee every-time. No more worries about who is on the coffee rota this week!

Espresso coffee machines

This is where you can take things up a gear and get a bit fancy (well, that's up to you I guess!).

Espresso machines come in a wide range of styles, sizes and costs - but that is what you can expect with something capable of making a lot of different types of coffee.

Espresso machines basically do just two things: make espresso and steam/foam milk.

Espresso machines tend to be more complicated machines and come in a range of sizes as well as the number of espresso that can be made at any one time. This is all dependant on the number of "groups" that the machine can take. Most machines have two to three groups so that multiple drinks can be made at any one time, allowing a professional style barista service. This is where your after church refreshments really get the cafe style experience!

This type of machine is really geared towards cafe and higher volume use by a skilled barista who can make a variety of handmade coffee drinks. Think latte, cappuccino and flat white and you're on track. We'd all love this in our churches, but the reality is that this type of machine is most suitable for churches with cafes that run during the week due to the high cost of investment. We work with an expert partner to make sure you get the very best quality machine in your church cafe for the best value and on-going service support.

Most espresso machines need an annual service by a qualified engineer that checks the safety and integrity of the machine, because these operate at high pressure it's important that they are safe. Thankfully our partner offers great value service plans to make sure you have years of trouble free service when you purchase through us. We are here to help you get the right sort of espresso machine for your church cafe.

Here's what you can expect from one of our favourite manufacturers, La Cimbali, who inspire incredible Italian style coffee drinks. Our equipment partner works with us to make sure you get just the right machine for your setting so that you can save more whilst future-proofing your investment.

The great news about our service is that we can provide finance options to help spread the cost of your espresso machine, starting from only £20/week which means your cafe can get off to a great start for less.

Cafetiere / French press

A timeless classic which provides churches the ability to offer their guests a more personal hospitality experience. Invented by an Italian in 1929, this design has remained unchanged since and consists of a usually glass carafe with a plunger and mesh filter. This allows a decent strength coffee to be produced in about 4-6 minutes with the simplest of equipment: a kettle!

Simply add your favourite ground Distribution coffee, we suggest about 1 tablespoon per cup, pour over just boiled hot water (about 94c to be exact!) stir, and leave to steep for about 4-6 minutes depending on how strong you like it.

Once your times up, simply press the plunger down slowly and serve! It's a really simple technique which is often the best we find, and makes a great tasting coffee with very little fuss or expensive equipment. This sort of coffee making style works well for smaller settings or churches that want to model a home from home environment where smaller groups gather around hot refreshments. We've seen this service style work really well where there's lots of coffee tables and spaces for congregations to gather and mingle before and after a service.

These churches often have hosts who take turns to serve guests, much like a cafe or restaurant host would around smaller groups and coffee tables - really encouraging some great hospitality moments as people serve one another and mingle.

The downside? If your attracting a bigger crowd or want to serve lots of people all at once you'll need a hot water urn as well to make sure you have hot water on tap (not a problem though as you'll probably need it for tea drinkers as well). You might also need quite a few pots and have space to store them.

The upside? you've got a really low tech, simple and flexible way of serving decent coffee to varying crowd sizes - perfect if you want incredible coffee at church on Sundays as well as offices and meeting areas throughout the week. We can help you decide if this is a good choice for your church coffee and supply high quality coffee presses as well.

Bean to cup Machines

Machines that can serve incredible coffee quickly, consistently and to barista standards without the fuss.

We all love incredible coffee (what we do best here at Distribution Coffee!) which is why we love bean to cup machines. They offer the best of all worlds:

  • The ability to have a wide range of consistent, professionally made, barista style coffee based drinks.

  • Really quick coffee's with no mess, waste or fuss front of house in your service areas.

  • Machines capable of serving any number of coffees a day: from small domestic machines serving just 20 coffee's, to large, heavy duty machines that can serve 500 cups a day - there is a large choice of options

  • Consistency is the name of the game here - every latte is exactly the same in taste, temperature, quality and looks.

  • Energy saving functions keep electricity costs as low as possible when not in use.

  • Beans literally ground to order which means you always get the freshest coffee. You can't get fresher than this!

So with a whole range of amazing benefits to these fantastic machines, it's important to weigh up the costs. The larger professional machines have similar costs to professional espresso machines and need ongoing service. This is fine though if your making good use of the machine: you'll be getting incredible value for money from a really good piece of kit that makes incredible coffee with our beans. It's important to make sure it's right for your setup though, which is why we'll always help you make the right choice by working with our expert partners to find the right costing solution for you.

Bean to cup machines can cost from just a couple hundred pounds for more domestic style machines (we supply starting at just £399!) and come with limited warranties and self servicing instructions. These machines are great for church offices, breakout spaces, smaller churches and meeting spaces.

If your after bean to cup machines for serving medium to larger size churches, venues and meetings then you'll want to invest in a larger size machine. With our supply partner we offer these high quality machines with servicing from just £32/week which is a great way to get cafe quality drinks in your church setting.

Got a question or want some help choosing the right machine for you? Check out our other articles here on our site and we can help you choose the right coffee machines and equipment for your church.

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