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Machine and Equipment Layout Guidelines

OVERVIEW: The layout of your espresso equipment on your counter and the location of your electrical, water supply and drain connections should come together in such a way as to provide the greatest functionality and convenience for the operator. In addition to connections, such things as customer traffic pattern, location of refrigeration and sinks, countertop height, etc. must be considered. In new construction situations, this can be pre-programmed into your build-out plans. In already existing work environments, you must adapt these guidelines to the space available. To assist you in such planning, this section provides you a number of recommendations based upon our experience, as well as a table of equipment dimensions to facilitate the drawing of a layout diagram.            Top

ROUGH SPACE PLANNING: Each of the prior sections detailed the necessary electrical wiring, water supply, water filtration/softening, and drain requirements, the required proximity of these connections to the espresso machine, and the type of connection needed to assure a smooth and trouble-free installation. With these in mind, here are some additional parameters you should consider. These parameters are based upon a new build-out where total flexibility is possible. Your specific circumstance may not allow such flexibility, but each of these parameters should be considered nonetheless, to assure that your have covered all of your bases.            Top

bulletShould the espresso machine be placed on the front bar or the back bar? Each has its advantages. First consider where your current plumbing and electrical lines are located. In many cases this dictates your decision, as it is very expensive to relocate these. Front bar locations allow face-to-face contact and conversation between barista and customer, providing the machine is set on a low enough counter surface to allow an unobstructed sight line for average sized people. Front bar locations also show-off the beautiful exterior panels of your LaCimbali espresso machine. Back bar locations allow the customer to observe more closely the preparation of their espresso drink, and leave the front bar open for merchandising. The down-side of back bar locations is that the barista has his/her back to the customer while preparing the drink, and the working surface of the machine, which tends to become very messy when you are busy, is in full view of the customer.
bulletShould the grinder(s) be placed on the left or right of the espresso machine? If you are purchasing a traditional espresso machine, a separate espresso grinder will be necessary to grind and dispense freshly ground coffee (LaCimbali Super-Automatic machines have built-in grinders, so grinder placement is not an issue). If you have chosen to freshly grind your decaf espresso as well, a second grinder will be necessary. Because the grinder dosing lever is located on the right hand side of the grinder, most baristas will grip the portafilter handle in their left hand and operate the dosing lever of the grinder with their right hand. For this reason, it is generally considered more functional to place the grinder(s) to the right of the machine 
bulletWhere should the knock box be placed? If you are purchasing a traditional espresso machine, you will be disposing of ground coffee into a knock box (LaCimbali Super-Automatic machines have a built-in grounds disposal drawer, so a knock box is not necessary). In preparing a shot of espresso, the portafilter filled with used grounds is removed from the machine group and emptied (knocked out) prior to reaching for the grinder to refill it with fresh grounds. Therefore, your knock box should be located adjacent to your grinder(s). If you expect to be only moderately busy, a portable countertop knock box is sufficient. If you expect to be quite busy, a built-in knock box recessed into the counter surface is advised, with no bottom to the knock box such that expended grounds can be knocked directly into a waste container beneath the counter surface.            Top
bulletWhat type of refrigeration should be used and where should it be located? The espresso business is dominated by the popularity of milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos and lattés. Therefore, you will use a lot of milk. Further, many drinks are topped with whipped cream, which should be kept refrigerated between uses. Therefore, a refrigeration unit should be located within an arm’s reach of your espresso machine. Most operators and inspectors prefer an under-counter style commercial grade refrigeration unit. Relative to the location of the machine, we have found it most convenient to place the refrigerator under the counter and slightly to the left of center under the machine. This facilitates operating with two baristas behind the machine. The barista on the right can stage shots of espresso and the barista on the left can steam milk on the left steam wand, each without crossing-over into the other’s work space.            Top
bulletWhere should the milk refrigeration unit for a Super-Automatic espresso machine and the new M31 be located? The milk refrigeration unit (Frigomilk), which accompanies the LaCimbali Super-Automatic espresso machines and the M31 line equipped with automatic milk frothers ("C" models), must be placed on the counter surface immediately to the left of the machine. This is important so that milk from the unit is fed directly to the cappuccino head on the espresso machine, which is located on the left end of the machine. This unit plugs into a standard 120V outlet and draws minimal current through a 12V transformer. The electrical outlet for the Frigomilk may be located either above or below the counter surface. The transformer power pack for this unit must be kept dry and protected from moisture, so it is recommended that it be mounted to the wall behind the machine, or to a vertical cabinet surface beneath the counter. Its dimensions are 8.7" wide, 13" deep and 12.2" high.            Top
bulletWhere should the water softening system be located? As depicted in the diagrams in the water supply tab, the water softening system requires a vertical clearance of 24"or 22" for the automatic type softener, and is generally mounted on an horizontal surface, (for example under the counter). Its required vertical clearance is low enough to fit under most standard height counter surfaces. For ease of installation and service, it is most convenient to place this system directly beneath the espresso machine. In such cases, the water connection to the espresso machine is made directly to the outflow side of the water softener head. However, there are several other considerations. You may wish to take advantage of the softener to additionally supply ice makers or drip coffee brewers etc... Therefore, the physical location of your water system may also be contingent upon the location of these facilities as well.            Top
bulletWhat is the proper countertop height for an espresso machine? Standard kitchen counters are typically about 36" high, and standard bar counters are typically about 42" high. Although either counter height will work, most operators prefer to have the machine low enough to allow visual contact with the customer if the machine is located on the front bar, or low enough to allow the operator to easily see into a milk frothing pitcher while steaming milk. This would favor a counter height of 36" or less, depending upon the specific machine dimensions, and whether the optional 4" tall extension legs for the machine will be required by your local health department. If you intend to install our water softening system directly under your machine, a 36" counter height is the minimum you can go with, in order to leave at least 24" of vertical clearance within the cabinet enclosure to accommodate this system. To calculate the overall visual height of your machine, add your counter height plus your machine height plus approximately 3" if you are required to use the tall extension legs (the standard legs are approximately 1" tall, and the optional legs are approximately 4" tall).            Top
bulletHow deep should my countertop be to accommodate my espresso machine? A standard countertop depth is approximately 24". The machines vary in depth from 19" to 26". However, the extra depth of the M49 and M50 models, which measure 25_" and 26" in depth respectively, is due to the 7" overhang of their drip trays. Therefore, at the minimum, any of these machines could be placed on a standard-depth countertop, with little or no overhang, depending upon the machine model. From an operator’s perspective, however, it is desirable to have additional counter space in front of the machine to stage drinks or to set steaming pitchers, etc. upon. It may also be desirable, if your machine is located on the front bar, to have additional merchandising space on the customer’s side of the machine to display products, etc. Therefore, ideally, if the machine is located on the front bar, a 36" deep countertop would be recommended. If the machine is located on the back bar, a 30" deep countertop would be recommended.             Top
bulletWhere should I place the hole in my countertop to accommodate any under-counter connections? If you plan to make any or all connections beneath you counter, including electrical outlets, water supply lines or drain lines, you will need to provide a hole in your countertop (as referenced earlier) large enough to accommodate those lines. A hole is a permanent alteration to your countertop, so you should take time to plan your equipment layout first, before proceeding. Since all of the lines feeding the espresso machine are flexible, it will be possible to shift it somewhat one way or another after installation, but you should first approximate its position as closely as possible. Then you should mark a point directly in the center of the machine’s footprint. A 3" hole cut through the counter at this point is sufficient for all of the lines to pass through. A smaller hole may be used if only one or two of the machine connections originate from beneath the counter. A hole cut too far from the center of the machine’s footprint could result in drain back-flow problems due to an insufficient slope of the drain line.            Top

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Last modified: August 28, 2003