A bespoke Cafe Racer energy efficient machine

This report investigates the power consumed by traditional commercial espresso coffee machines when compared with the next generation of machinery.  Against a backdrop of rising carbon emissions and concern about the resulting environmental impact, this report intends to give café owners and baristas the tools to make decisions that help reduce environmental impact.

The rationale underpinning the research is for Sanremo UK to take the first steps in raising awareness of the energy consumption of different coffee machines. Research shows that 60% of the carbon footprint of coffee comes from the point of service, where the coffee is prepared and served [1].  Commercial coffee machines are power hungry and the energy they use to serve coffee all day long not only has a direct financial cost but also makes a pivotal contribution to the environmental impact of coffee.

More and more people are becoming concerned with the environmental impact of consumer and business choices.  As a company we are taking steps to reduce our own impact and we want to help coffee machine owners do the same.

We want to build awareness of coffee machine energy consumption at the point of service. Because making a single change of machine, can reduce the carbon footprint of every cup of coffee you serve.

In working conditions, our research showed that some advanced multi-boiler machines, like those in our Sanremo Energy Efficient Machine (SEEM) range, make a big difference.  A single boiler machine can use up to 55% more energy than a next-generation multi-boiler espresso machine.  Pinpoint multi-boiler PID power application software along with boiler insulation not only helps to improve quality but can also significantly reduce energy use.

And that’s something we want to shout about.


What Did We Do?


To create the Espresso Machine Energy Report, we investigated the difference between traditional single boiler espresso machines, which make up at least 95% of espresso machines around the world, and the newer, more technologically advanced machines.  To give the tests a strong methodical stance we used the 2017 WCE (World Coffee Event) machine testing protocols which are used for evaluating coffee machine performance and suitability for SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) worldwide industry competitions.  We designed our tests to understand how much energy Sanremo UK espresso machines use during the three typical phases that make up a working day:

Heating - Initial heating period was measured over a period of one hour to ensure thermal equilibrium throughout the machine.  This is recorded as ‘heating’.

Standby - To replicate periods of standby the machine was then left to idle for a further one hour.  This is recorded as ‘standby’.

Working - The ‘WCE procedure for the measurement of brewing water temperature in espresso coffee machines 2017’ was used to provide a replicable working phase.  This is recorded as ‘working’.

Which Espresso Machines Did We Test?


Our research involved testing the most commonly purchased range of Sanremo UK professional espresso machines as well as machines from other manufacturers to see how the newer, more technologically and energy efficient advanced machines, differ from the more traditional coffee machines in terms of energy consumption.

These are the machines that we tested:

Sanremo Energy Efficient Machines (SEEM) – Multi-boiler PID controlled, insulated machines

Traditional Single Boiler (TSB) – Standard configuration single boiler machines

Other Manufacturers


Machines from other manufacturers were also tested and the results from these supported the findings on the Sanremo UK range, i.e. that the multi-boiler PID control with insulation provides the most energy efficient coffee machines.  However, we have not used this data in the output from our report.

How We Measured Power Consumption


We harnessed the machine power connection via a data logger to constantly monitor and record both voltage and current in data and graph form. To obtain the KWH (Kilowatts per hour), we multiplied the average voltage recorded across the specific test period with the average amps drawn across the period. This enabled us to extrapolate power usage data on a per hour basis.Testing-Tools

What Did the Research Show?


The tests showed that the biggest differences in power consumption occurred when the machines were operating and producing coffee.  We have therefore summarised the outputs from each section of the testing and then assimilated this data to replicate different working day scenarios.



In the heating up phase:

  • The most efficient machine tested was the Sanremo Zoe Vision (TSB) using 21% less energy to heat than the Opera II (SEEM), which used the most energy.

This is not surprising as the Opera II has more boilers and metal work and water to heat from ambient temperature.  The Zoe Vision on the other hand has the smallest single boiler and therefore least amount of metal work and water to heat up.



In standby, i.e. when the machine is heated and idle, there is not a massive difference between the machines.

  • The Café Racer (SEEM) used the least energy in standby
  • The Zoe Vision (TSB) used the most energy, 10% more

Again, this is not surprising because, in a stable ambient environment, heat dissipation is not significant.  Therefore the insulation on the internals of the Opera II, Café Racer and Verona RS (SEEM) help mitigate heat loss, but only with a difference of between 6-10% from the single boiler uninsulated machines.



This is where the data becomes more interesting.  In this part of the test:

  • The Opera II stands out as the most efficient machine, using just 420 Watts to carry out the WCE test over 1 hour, followed by the Verona RS and Café Racer (SEEM).
  • Remarkably, the larger single boiler machine, Verona SED (TSB), used 740 Watts (some 75% higher than the Opera II) to produce the same amount of coffee and the Zoe Vision is not far behind that at 660 Watts.

This is a significant difference and highlights the real power of the energy management technology in applying precisely enough power to replace lost heat in precisely the right place in the higher tech and insulated machines.  In contrast, the single boiler machines go into overdrive when replacing heat, repeatedly heating up the whole boiler as the machine is used to make coffee.

The Opera II (SEEM) also has more control over simple factors such as the two second flush, which minimises heat loss, enabling sufficient water emission to clear coffee water, but with minimal impact on heat dissipation.

Working Day Scenario


To enable a clearer understanding of how this data applies to a coffee machine working day, we assimilated data to emulate how much energy would be used in a relatively typical coffee shop day, i.e. heating up, being on for 12 hours, with four of those in standby and eight working.




In this working day scenario, we see that the Opera II provides the most energy efficient platform, followed by the Café Racer and Verona RS (SEEM range).

The single boiler machines step up considerably in power consumed and the largest single boiler machine (12L), even though it has PID temperature control on the boiler, consumes almost 60% more energy than the Sanremo Opera II.

What We Learned

  1. Overall the most energy efficient machine in the Sanremo UK range is the Sanremo Opera II.
  2. The least efficient is the larger of the traditionally configured single boiler coffee machines, the Verona SED.
  3. In Working Conditions, traditional single boiler coffee machines consume more power than the Sanremo UK SEEM range with energy-saving design.
  4. The energy savings increase with usage, i.e. a larger single boiler machine working eight out 12 hours will consume 55% more energy than an Opera II and 36% more energy than the Café Racer.
  5. The larger the single boiler the more energy required to heat up and produce coffee.  The Verona SED has a 12L boiler and this uses 10% more power than the Zoe Vision with its 10L boiler.  This indicates that machines with even larger boilers, such as 14L, these are likely to require even more energy to do the same job!
  6. Although the Opera II and Café Racer (SEEM) have a higher power rating on the label, i.e. the maximum power level the machine could require if all systems and components were fully powered all at once, this does not mean these machines consume more energy. In fact, quite the opposite, they consume less energy.
  7. The combination of energy managed PID control over heat application, and multi-boiler and pipework insulation significantly reduces the amount of energy required to produce coffee in the SEEM range machines.

What Makes SEEM Range So Efficient?

  1. Water from a traditional single boiler machine leaves the boiler at 120 - 125oC and has to be cooled through heat dissipation before the point of extraction in the group head.  This is effectively heat, and therefore energy, dumping.  In contrast, the SEEM machines make coffee from water that is lifted only to the precise target brew temperature, so no heat is wasted by cooling group heads or brewing water.
  2. Sanremo multi-boiler PID control means that just enough heat is applied to specific points throughout the coffee hydraulic system in the machine.   This means that energy is only used in the precise quantities in the precise points of the machine required to maintain temperature, and therefore there is minimal wastage.
  3. Sanremo UK SEEM machines use insulation across the internal boilers and hot pipework which further improves both temperature stability and therefore coffee extraction control, and energy retention.

Other Factors Which May Widen The Energy Gap Further


Group head flushing

Many single boiler machines on the market run at higher temperatures to brew coffee well, being fed from the boiler at 120-125oC.  As a consequence,  flushing is performed to cool the group head water so as not to over extract the coffee.  In this very common circumstance, the level of heat wastage will rise significantly, both because of longer flushes and the fact that heat is deliberately being dissipated to cool the brewing cycle.

In contrast, the Opera II for example, has a simple push of the lit group button, which initiates a second flush.  This is sufficient to clear dirty coffee water but limits hot water emission.  This combined with the water already being at say 93 oC, therefore minimises heat loss and energy wastage.  (In the testing for this report, flushing was standardised across all machines tested.)

Group power reduction

All of the Sanremo SEEM range of high tech machines, have the ability to turn off one group (or two in a 3 group machine) during quieter times.  This means that when coffee is required, there is no delay while the machine heats up, but it also reduces the energy used in slack periods.

It could be argued that having an eco mode reduces heat standby facility, which is available on some other machines in the market, could also be used to reduce energy consumed.  However, this sort of functionality means that when coffee is required, there is a delay of a few minutes while the machine ramps back up, which in many scenarios is likely to risk losing customers.

So at this stage of our research, it is our opinion that this functionality, alongside the ability to turn groups off manually, is likely not to be used in practice and therefore has less impact on the overall performance of a coffee machine.

Steam wands

Features such as cool touch steam wands, provided on all Sanremo SEEM machines, retain more heat which helps to reduce energy wastage.

Wider machine considerations

As Sanremo single boiler (TSB) machines are engineered and can be calibrated to run at specific rates of coffee throughput, the additional heat loss by machines or group water running hotter than required is recognised but has not been a factor in our testing.

However, all of the above indicates that the comparative energy savings from the Sanremo SEEM range, may be even greater in practice than our data currently shows.


What We Can Conclude


We can see clearly that the combination of Sanremo SEEM multi-boiler eco-technology and functionality combined with insulation inside the coffee machine does make a tangible reduction in energy consumption of a coffee machine.

A large single boiler coffee machine will use over 50% more energy than the Sanremo Opera II (SEEM).

Looking at that another way, choosing a Sanremo SEEM espresso machine over a single boiler coffee machine will help reduce energy consumption (and therefore carbon emissions) and power costs, by approximately one third.

This for many coffee businesses, particularly those concerned about environmental issues and those with multi-site operations, is a serious consideration.

The savings made by moving from a large single boiler to a Sanremo SEEM Opera II, equal to around 250watts per hour.


What Next? Towards an Energy Grading System for Espresso Machines


From the data collated, this report will provide the basis for an energy grading system, similar to those used with other electronic appliances, to help buyers evaluate and select machines using environmentally relevant performance criteria.

By assimilating what we have learned about energy consumption of different commercial espresso coffee machines, this allows us to propose an initial categorisation of espresso machines on an energy related table.




Suggested Energy Gradings for Espresso Machines


We have positioned each of the machines tested on a first ever energy rating chart for traditional espresso coffee machines.

We have allowed space below our largest consumer as there are without doubt machines in the market which have larger boilers and will run significantly hotter than the Sanremo Verona SED.

We have also allowed space above the best performer tested, as we believe that while Sanremo Coffee Machines S.r.l. have made big strides ahead of the market in this arena, we hope there will be further developments in future.Sanremo-Chart-2

Why Does This Matter at All?

The Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF. This is a shocking statistic and should encourage us all to take what steps we can to improve things for future generations. There are of course many factors impacting on biodiversity. Energy consumption across all facets of human activity is undoubtedly a key factor.

While coffee machines may not be the biggest culprits, the global need to reduce energy use and our carbon footprint indicates we should take every action we can to manage and reduce any impacts we as individuals and businesses make.

While there are already many initiatives across our industry to mitigate environmental impact, there has been little attention paid to espresso machines thus far.   We therefore wanted to see how Sanremo UK might start the ball rolling by raising awareness and advancing the environmental understanding of coffee machines, potentially helping to reduce the environmental impact of our industry.