While an espresso machine may appear complicated, once you get the hang of it, you can pull off hundreds of espresso shots throughout the day.
Most of the magic happens inside the group head, which is a permanent metal attachment that pulls water out of the machine and into the filter basket. It's the device that holds the portafilter in place on the front of your espresso machine.
Every espresso machine includes a group head. You can think of it as the heart of the machine as it's in charge of making a perfect cup of espresso. In essence, the group head is where water meets coffee to give you strong and bitter espresso.
For maximum performance and a continuous supply of espresso shots, consider investing in one of the best 3-group espresso machines. These espresso machines are generally used in commercial settings and offer 3x the performance with three group heads.
Read on to learn more about the best 3-group espresso machines currently available in the market.
Understanding 3-Group Espresso Machines
A group head is frequently referred to as the 'group.' It's also known as the 'espresso machine group,' the 'brew group,' or the 'brew head.' When pulling a shot of espresso, the group head on a manual, semi-automatic, or automatic espresso machine performs the same duty.
The portafilter is the appliance with a handle that holds the finely ground coffee basket. The 'group' delivers hot, pressured water from the machine through a diffusion plate and into the basket of grinds when it's ready to pull a shot of espresso.
Water is forced through the coffee and out the bottom nozzles of the portafilter, into the cup or carafe, by the pressure. As a result, you get the perfect cup of espresso.
The size of the group head, like portafilters and baskets, changes depending on the sort of shot you're pulling. Only the fastest espresso machines will suffice for the busiest coffee shops and restaurants that provide espresso drinks. This is where the 3-group espresso machine comes in!
A three-group commercial espresso machine can make all the difference in commercial environments where there are always back-to-back orders. Baristas may make numerous drinks at once with three groups, and there's ample room for more than one barista to work at the machine simultaneously.
Even when the extra group is not in use, the third portafilter can be utilized to dose while the other group heads are running.
Consequently, it is possible to have the pump running continuously by cycling through group heads. With three group heads, multiple baristas can pull espresso shots within minutes to satisfy high demand during rush hours.
However, keep in mind that 3-group espresso machines are generally larger than single or 2-head machines. This makes it important to keep the dimensions in mind when purchasing a 3-group espresso machine to make sure it fits nicely into your place.
Top 6 Best 3-Group Espresso Machine
Are you ready to find the best 3-group espresso machine? Let's take a look at the top six 3-group commercial espresso machines. We'll go over the basics of espresso machines as well as the highlights of each one on the list.
1. La Cimbali M26 BE 3-Group
- Width: 38.4 inches
- Depth: 20.1 inches
- Height: 24.3 inches
- Boiler capacity: 15 liters
- Number of wands: 2
The La Cimbali brand is renowned for its long-lasting, reliable machines that produce great consistent espresso shot after shot. La Cimbali espresso machines have been in use for over 75 years all over the world. The tradition continues with the M26 BE.
It is a "green espresso machine" featuring Cimbali's patented smart boiler and heat exchanger system. Such up-to-date technology is normally found in more expensive machines.
However, M26 BE 3-Group offers high value for the money and produces the best results. At busy times, you can rely on its excellent performance.
Take a look at what makes this machine one of the best 3-group espresso machines.
Smart Boiler: The Cimbali "smart boiler" technology optimizes the filling cycles of the boiler to create the perfect thermal balance between water and steam. The M26 provides continued hot water and steam from the cold water mixing valve system, allowing baristas to maintain high output levels at peak times.
Thermal System: Made from stainless steel, the La Cimbali M26 comes with the La Cimbali patented Thermal Flexibility balancing system. It allows baristas to regulate the water temperature in each group head without restarting or turning off the machine.
This is an essential feature as the perfect espresso relies heavily on temperature. The water temperature must be ideal for your chosen blend to extract the best flavors, aromas, and quality. M26 makes it easier for baristas, allowing them to use several roasts and mixes at the same time without affecting quality.
Ruveco-Teck Processing: Pure water is the first step in making good espresso. However, water can absorb metallic qualities when it comes into touch with brass, copper, steel, or other metallic components of the espresso machine. Cimbali has an exclusive patent for the use of Ruveco Teck coating to combat this.
This unique treatment is applied to all metal components that come into contact with water, resulting in a significant reduction in the release of metal components into the water. As a result, pure water with no metallic characteristics can be obtained to create the perfect cup of coffee.
Water Filters: Protect your factory warranty and machine from calcium buildup and prevent damage to your boiler, heating components, water passageways, and moving parts caused by hazardous, hard water minerals.
Most espresso machine water condition issues can be solved with this all-in-one filter system. Plus, with La Cimbali's BMT Bestmax standard or premium with a magnesium 4 stage filter, you may also improve the taste of your coffee.
Versatility: Apart from 3-Group, the La Cimbali M26 is available in one-group, compact two-group, two-group, and tall cup versions.
All versions are equipped with a backlit button panel that is easy to use and adds fun to brewing cups after cups of espresso. All of this combined ensures perfect quality in the cup and reduces consumption.
2. Nuova Simonelli Appia Life 3-Group
- Width: 40 inches
- Depth: 22 inches
- Height: 20 inches
- Boiler capacity: 15 liters
- Number of wands: 2
Nuova Simonelli Appia Life 3-Group is suited for people looking for exceptional performance and dependability with a smaller profile, increased features, and easier serviceability. It features three separate groups and allows for both volumetric and manual dosing. Regardless, it offers great value for money.
It is one of the best 3-group espresso machines ideal for café restaurants, hotels, stores, workplaces, and businesses with inexperienced baristas or with distant owners/managers. Here are some of the best features of Nuova Simonelli Appia Life 3-Group.
Design & Features: The steel machine is built to impress and features a simple technology that allows baristas to brew the perfect cup frequently throughout the day. It comes with three independent groups, each with its own set of control, that help speed beverage orders.
Soft Infusion System: Automatic: Serving consistently smooth coffee is a key step in securing repeat business. Nuova Simonelli Appia Life 3-Group can help in this regard as it is equipped with a soft infusion system that optimizes tamping to reduce human error.
It gently pre-wets the coffee cake, ensuring an even extraction and maximum flavour.
Push-Pull Steam System: Rather than straining your wrists by continuously manipulating a valve, Nuova Simonelli Appia Life 3-Group allows you to steam with a simple switch.
The machine is fitted with a user-friendly push-pull steam technology to ensure that you are providing the highest quality espresso to your consumers. It's never been easier to make the perfect cup of espresso!
Latest Technology & Ergonomic Design: Appia Life increases efficiency by enhancing service speed and supporting the barista in day-to-day tasks, thanks to its ergonomic design.
The barista can move around more easily thanks to the two steam lances. The cup warmer is aligned to the top for better reach and access. Appia Life was created to be more efficient in terms of maintenance as well.
3. Wega Polaris XTRA 3-Group
- Width: 39 inches
- Depth: 22.5 inches
- Height: 21.25 inches
- Boiler capacity: 15.5 liters
- Number of wands: 2
Wega brand was founded in Italy in 1985 and quickly became one of the country's most popular and best-selling espresso machine brands. Wega maintained a 25% market share, which means that one out of every four espresso machines in Italy is a Wega.
Wega machines, which were introduced to the United States in 2011, are slowly but steadily becoming more common in cafes, local coffee shops, and restaurants.
Like all Wega espresso machines, Wega Polaris XTRA 3-Group is noted for its adaptability, durability, beautiful design, and overall high performance. It is an espresso machine with the ability to add personality to any commercial setting.
Take a look at what makes Wega Polaris XTRA 3-Group the ideal choice for you.
Design & Features: The Wega Polaris XTRA is a powerful espresso machine with elevated group heads and an Auto Steam option. In addition to the new backlit keypad system, it has a completely new design.
The body has been redesigned to be more aerodynamic and modern, with the option of a special RGB LED game on the side panel that makes it one of a kind.
It also features a self-cleaning function – the auto wash cycle – the makes it easy to maintain the machine. Other commendable features include an LCD screen and functionality, a hot water dispenser with mixing valves for cool water, manuals pressure stats, joystick-style steam knob, and raised groups.
Pre-Infusion Technology: Pre-infusion refers to the process of gently wetting and expanding the coffee puck in the portafilter with low-pressure water before employing full pressure for espresso extraction. The feature reduces channeling, improves extraction consistency, and produces a better-tasting espresso.
When the barista presses the start button, low-pressure water is permitted to come in slowly at first. Pressure levels can range from 1 to 5 bars. This water soaks the bed of ground coffee in the portafilter until it is totally saturated.
This stage is called pre-infusion. Hit the 9 bars when the coffee puck has been fully saturated with water. Following that, the espresso is extracted using high-pressured water.
4 Programmable Volumetric Dosing Touchpads: With programmable volumetric dosing, baristas may dispense an exact amount of liquid with the touch of a button. The double shot button, for example, can be set to a double shot, while the single-shot button can be set to a 1oz rinse flush.
Thermosiphon: Temperature stabilized groups allow for thermosiphon, which is a passive heat exchange mechanism that circulates a fluid without the use of a mechanical pump. It is based on natural convection. While the group is dormant, the boiling function maintains it warm (about 100° C).
Owing to the small group thermal capacity, the hot water goes slowly but steadily from the highest level of the HX to the group, where it cools and moves lower by emitting heat.
The water then regains its lost warmth as it reaches the lowest portion of the HX and moves upwards, creating the essential thermal cycles for the function.
In short, the thermosiphon feature allows baristas to accomplish two primary duties in a single heating function while using the shortest amount of space.
Shot Timers: Wega Polaris XTRA 3-Group comes with shot timers, eliminating the need to employ external timers. Every shot is automatically timed!
When a shot is started, the automatic espresso shot timer detects it and displays the shot time in seconds. When the barista stops the shot, the timer automatically stops and resets at the start of the following shot.
4. Faema Prestige+ Tall Cup 3-Group
- Width: 40.7 inches
- Depth: 22.2 inches
- Height: 24 inches
- Boiler capacity: 17.5 liters
- Number of wands: 2
The first Faema coffee machines hit the market in 1945 in Milan. Since then, the brand has focused on developing and manufacturing technologically advanced professional espresso machines, allowing it to gain a considerable part of the espresso machine industry.
Faema is now part of the Cimbali Group, an Italian conglomerate with operations in over 100 countries. Its production plants in Milan, Bergamo, and Cremona produce 200 machines every day on average.
The company's success is due to the importance they place on tradition and innovation. The company assures that every machine delivers the finest quality coffee in the cup.
Modern and adaptable, PRESTIGE+ is a one-of-a-kind machine in Faema's history. It has a matte finish, illuminated buttons, and a front panel with a central service display.
Take a look at Faema's PRESTIGE+ best features below.
Design & Features: The machine comes with ambient light, with the possibility to add a second one to make it even more noticeable.
The innovative design, combined with the ability to customize the side panels with precious and trendy finishes like denim, copper, and brass, guarantees that each coffee shop's style is perfectly coordinated.
Commendable features include an adjustable thermic with a knob, Tall cup, cup warmers, and LED interface with front LED lights.
Advanced Thermal System: Classic Thermal System PRESTIGE+ features a traditional thermal system that can be modified from the outside using knobs on the cup warmer, one for each group.
As a result, it becomes more functional and accessible. For all beverages produced, the system ensures thermal flexibility and consistent quality.
Smart Boiler: The unique Smart Boiler technology optimizes the water level in the boiler while increasing the performance levels of hot water and steam. This maintains thermal balance, allowing you to have a perfect cup even under extreme situations.
Auto Steam: The Auto Steam wand is a proprietary technology that heats or froths milk without the need for intervention by the barista. At the same time, it delivers steam mixed with air.
When the programmed temperature is attained, the air and steam delivery stops, ensuring the right amount of froth and consistency with every cup. The Auto Steam function is easy to use and clean and reliably delivers a dense, velvety milk cream, ensuring outstanding results without losing traditional barista routines.
Superior Comfort: New brass filter holders with "soft touch" handles are included with Prestige+. The forms have been created with the best ergonomics and grip in mind.
PRESTIGE+ now includes a chrome-plated steel insert that is perfectly harmonized with the steam levers, enhancing the product's attractiveness. It also has an ingenious micrometric spout that ensures the two cups are kept separate. Each portafilter holder includes a screw that allows users to make drinks.
5. La Pavoni DIAMANTE 3-Group Commercial Lever
- Width: 45 inches
- Depth: 25 inches
- Height: 26 inches
- Boiler capacity: 22.5 liters
- Number of wands: 2
The La Pavoni Diamante commercial espresso machine, with its pull-down piston lever, is the epitome of elegance. This machine, like its namesake, the Diamond, is built to dazzle with exceptional results.
This machine may be the machine for you if you want to open a coffee business that only serves the best, hand-pulled espresso. Here’s what we love about La Pavoni Diamante.
Design & Features: The Diamante comes in two bright colors: ruby red and sapphire blue, and it has a stunning design structure.
With polished stainless steel, the espresso machine is exquisitely handcrafted with contoured panels that provide a unique prism of reflected angles. The traditional pull-down lever is a retro look, a reminiscence of classic Italian Cafés of the 1950s.
Some of the best features of the La Pavoni Diamante commercial espresso machine include a separate gauge for boiler pressure and pump, fully automated operation capabilities to program shots as required, and a 3-position energy-saving power switch.
Smart Wands: The 3 group machine also features a steam wand on both sides, allowing for more efficient delivery of drinks during peak times.
Unlike some machines with fixed-position steam wands, the Diamante's wands are positioned on pivot joints, allowing you to steam in whatever direction you like. Next to the steam wand is a hot water tap on the right side of the machine.
ETL Certification: Most municipal laws stipulate that espresso machines must be certified before they may be used in a commercial setting. Therefore, Diamante is ETL certified. Regardless, it is advisable to check your local regulations, although the
Comfort & Ease of Use: Being one of the best 3-group espresso machines, the La Pavoni Diamante 3-Group comes with multiple features that make it easier to use the espresso machine and prepare espresso shots within seconds.
For example, a huge cup warmer on top of the machine will maintain a steady supply of warm cups on hand. There is no need for a separate standalone cup warmer with this machine unless your operation is very large.
Easy Cleaning: Many commercial espresso machines have low feet, making it difficult to clean the space beneath the machine. The Diamante includes higher feet that make it easier to reach under the machine to solve this problem.
Electronic Water Level Control: The water level in the machine plays a vital role in brewing the ideal cup of espresso.
La Pavoni Diamante 3-Group automatically maintains a constant amount of water and avoided damage if the level dropped too low. The machine also has a sight glass, which allows you to keep an eye on the water level at all times.
6. Slayer Espresso 3-Group Commercial
- Width: 22 inches
- Depth: 40 inches
- Height: 17 inches
- Boiler capacity: 1.2-liter boiler/ group
- Number of wands: 2
Slayer Espresso 3-Group Commercial is known for its sophisticated temperature management, innovative precision needle valve, and easy serviceability. It provides the ultimate Slayer experience with unrivaled consistency and performance. Talking about budget, the espresso machine offers great value for money.
Slayer has a special way of making espresso. It employs a one-of-a-kind espresso preparation technique. When using this espresso machine, you may need to change some of your usual processes and techniques.
When making espresso with Slayer, keep the following features and recommendations in mind.
Unique Flavor Profiling Capabilities: With Slayer Espresso's flavor profiling capabilities, you can also experience a new paradigm for espresso preparation. To maximize extraction for all coffees, each of the three group heads can be set to different temperatures and flow rates.
Patented technology introduces a pre-brew wetting stage and diverse brewing profiles, broadening the range of espresso possibilities. Slayer advises light and medium roasts since dark roasts may not bring out the full potential of your Slayer or the rich depth of your coffee.
Particle Ground Size: Slayer can brew espresso using coffee that has been ground at extremely fine settings thanks to the slower entrance of water enabled by a precision needle valve.
Smaller particles expose more of the coffee's surface area to water, allowing more flavor-carrying oils to be extracted. These oils give a rich and smooth feel while hiding bitterness and boosting sweetness perception.
Basket Size & Dose Weight: During the "pre-brew" phase, the slayer saturates the ground coffee puck to the extent that most other espresso machines cannot match. As a result, the resistance of the coffee puck to high pressure and maximum flow is negligible.
It is best to use 19-21 grams of ground coffee in the accompanying portafilter basket to obtain optimum extraction time. Lighter doses and/or larger baskets will result in excessively short extraction periods, and channeling may occur.
Tamp Pressure & Bed Depth: Most espresso machines require forcefully tamping ground coffee to make a puck through which water can flow evenly. Slayer increases the necessity of tamping because of the slower introduction of water.
Instead of tamping to a set pressure, Slayer recommends tamping to a specific depth in order to ensure appropriate headspace between the coffee puck and the shower screen.
Brewing Time: Extraction usually lasts for about 25 to 30 seconds on most espresso machines. Slayer may brew espresso in 40 seconds or more due to its slower water injection, which leads to better flavor, more potent coffee.
Design & Features: It is one of the most powerful espresso machines in the market, offering independent brew groups, large steam capacity, and an innovative pre-heat tank, all of which are digitally regulated.
Temperatures are set and maintained using specialized equipment, providing diversity in extraction and consistency in steam output. Slayer keeps its promise of unrestricted steam.
Advanced Brew Actuator: Slayer's brew actuator has three settings: off, pre-brew, and full brew. When the brew actuator is moved all the way right, the group head is in the "off" position.
When the actuator is moved to the middle of the group, the "pre-brew" setting is engaged. When the actuator is moved all the way to the left, "full brew" is accomplished. Such easy control, combined with 3 group heads, makes it simple to brew great coffee in no time.
Purchasing the Best 3-Group Espresso Machine: Factors to Consider
Now that you know all about some of the best 3-group espresso machines, let's take a look at how to choose the right one for your café or business. Here are some factors to consider when buying an espresso machine.
The first consideration you'll have to make is how much total production capacity your operation requires.
When comparing sales volume, you'll often hear people talk about drinks per day or even drinks per week, but for the sake of your espresso machine, think about how many drinks per hour you can expect to create during your busiest possible hour of business.
To begin evaluating the capacity of various machines, consider aspects such as the size of the steam boiler and the power of the boiler's heating element.
These figures don't always provide a clear picture of the machine's capabilities, but you can usually assume that a larger steam boiler will have more steam capacity than a smaller steam boiler. Similarly, a heating element with fewer watts/liter will require longer or more frequent recovery times between uses.
Although neither power nor water capacity can determine a machine's overall output capabilities, looking at both can give you a decent indication of what an espresso machine can do.
Most shops will never outperform a two-group espresso machine running on 220v electricity, but if you expect to serve 50 or more espresso-and-milk drinks each hour, a three-group machine with a larger boiler and more powerful heating elements may be the better option.
Food safety standards vary by location, but your equipment will almost certainly need to be certified for food service. Commercial espresso machines will all have different certifications, so check to see what certifications are required in your area and make sure the machine you're contemplating fits those requirements.
This may sound obvious, but knowing ahead of time how much cash you plan on devoting to an espresso machine will help you quickly narrow down your options. Espresso machines range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
While some price differences reflect an increase in output capacity or material and build quality, some of the top-end pricing may be related to increased performance, consistency, additional comfort features, or dazzling customizable exteriors.
Type of Boiler
Your espresso machine's boiler controls how water is heated, stored, and used in various components of the machine. Heat exchange machines and dual/multi-boiler machines are the two most common types of commercial espresso machines.
The Bottom Line
Since the espresso machine is the backbone of most modern cafés, it's no wonder that selecting one for a retail location may be overwhelming for both novice and seasoned coffee professionals.
Where do you begin when there are so many options and features to explore and compare? Take some of the guesswork out of your decision-making process by opting for one of our top six best 3-group espresso machines that are guaranteed to deliver excellent results!
Check out CafeLast.com for all of your espresso machine and coffee equipment needs!