Without a doubt, it was Starbucks that started and drove America's appreciation for high quality coffee and espresso. Starbucks was started in Seattle in 1971 by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. The name "Starbucks" was taken from Herman Melville's classic American novel, Moby Dick. Originally, they were going to use the name "Pequod," which was the name of the whaling ship, but instead settled on "Starbucks." If you've read this classic, you might recall that Starbuck was Captain Ahab's first-mate on the Pequod.
Many are surprised to learn that Starbucks has been in business for over 40 years, although it takes almost all companies many decades to grow into an international corporation the way that Starbucks has. And for those who are relatively new to coffee as something to be savored and appreciated (rather than a mere wakeup potion in the morning), you should be aware that Starbucks is responsible for having driven that passion in the US - and for most of the world outside of Italy.
Therefore, it's quite natural for people who are coffee and espresso lovers to ask us whether we sell Starbucks espresso machines. Starbucks does not make espresso machines, so there is no such thing as a "Starbucks espresso machine." Starbucks sells coffee and espresso-based beverages; they don't make espresso machines.
Back in the 1990s, when Starbucks used standard espresso machines, Starbucks used La Marzocco Linea machines. These are standard espresso machines with portafilters that require some barista skill and work to operate - the type of thing done by real espresso lovers. As Starbucks grew from a moderate business into a large multinational business, they switched from standard espresso machines to superautomatics.
A superautomatic espresso machine merely requires the operator (not necessarily a trained barista) to push a button, and the machine does the rest. While a superautomatic espresso machine costs 3-6X as much as a standard espresso machine, it doesn't require training people to use it (to use it well), and we're sure that if you're buying 1000s of them, there is room in the margins to bring that factor down a lot.
Now, Starbucks is using Mastrena superautomatic espresso machines. These are made in Switzerland by Thermoplan AG. They are made exclusively for Starbucks, and are not sold commercially. Is there anything special about them? No. It's a high-volume (meaning many, many machines are made) Swiss-made superautomatic.
There is nothing special about the Mastrena. The Swiss have a legacy of being outstanding producers of chocolate, and have set the standards in fine watches. Frankly, they are pretty new to the coffee business. But keep in mind, that when you say that you want "a Starbucks espresso machine," what you probably mean is that you want to have an espresso machine that makes drinks like the ones you get at Starbucks.
You can use all kinds of equipment to do this. But if you want it to taste "like Starbucks," then you will need to buy Starbucks coffee. Note that Starbucks uses proprietary (meaning that they hold it as a trade secret) blends of beans. Many espresso experts (particularly Italians) don't really like Starbucks - they find it harsh and bitter. Many Americans love it.
So if you think you'd like "a Starbucks espresso machine," you can't have one. They are made in Switzerland exclusively for Starbucks. And they're nothing special. But if you want "an espresso machine" to make drinks like the ones you buy at Starbucks, we've got lots of them. But you might have to buy your coffee beans at Starbucks.
Saying that you want "a Starbucks Espresso Machine" would be the same thing as saying that you wanted "a Dairy Queen Freezer Case." Dairy Queen is not in the Freezer business, they're in the ice cream business. And the company that makes freezers for Dairy Queen probably doesn't sell them commercially. And, a freezer case that was specifically built for the kind of use it'll get at a Dairy Queen might not be exactly right for you.
For those who aren't sure what "Dairy Queen" is, asking for "a Starbucks espresso machine" would be like asking for "a Facebook Computer." Facebook doesn't make computers. If you want to buy a computer, there are many - having many different features, at many different price-points. Buying "a computer" to run "Facebook" depends on how you use it, how much money you want to spend, how big it needs to be, what other applications you're likely to use it for, what kind of operating system, etc., etc., etc.
If you ARE a Starbucks, they (Starbucks) will provide a machine for you. But if you aren't a Starbucks, but want
a top-notch espresso machine - better than the beasts used at Starbucks, and made for YOUR application, please ask us. We'd be glad to help.
...written by your friends at The Coffee Brewers