Getting a Coffee Machine: Lease, Buy, or Rent?

Espresso being brewed by a machine and some text: Buy, lease, or rent?

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Should you lease, buy, or rent a coffee machine for your office or café? Each option has its unique economic implications, and this article aims to unpack them to help you make an informed decision.

We’ve spent years delving into the financial aspects of small businesses and have consulted with food and beverage industry experts to ensure the information presented here is as accurate and reliable as possible.

The answer isn’t clear cut, so we’ll explore the cost considerations, pros and cons of leasing, buying, and renting coffee machines, and to make it more relatable, we will also look at some real-life case studies to comprehensively understand each option.

Stay tuned to make your coffee machine decision a brew-tiful one!

Coffee Machine Cost Considerations

A shot of espresso being brewed into a handled espresso glass.

When acquiring a coffee machine, you can’t just think about the espresso shots it pulls; you must also consider the financial shots you’ll be taking.

Let’s explore the cost considerations for leasing, buying, and renting coffee machines.

Understanding the Costs: Upfront and Long-Term

Whether you opt for leasing, buying, or renting, each choice comes with its own upfront and long-term costs. 

  • Buying a machine usually requires a substantial initial investment, but after that lump sum is paid, it’s all yours, no strings attached. You can then prioritize the purchasing of additional equipment to complement it. 
  • Leasing involves lower upfront costs but binds you to long-term financial commitments, often with interest. You may be able to pay it off quickly if the lease agreement allows it. 
  • Renting usually means paying a smaller recurring fee without the pressure of ownership or long-term agreements.

Quality vs Price

If coffee is your business, then quality should not be compromised. The type of financial commitment you’re willing to make will generally influence the quality of the machine you can acquire and, therefore, the quality of the end product. 

  • Buying may offer the best-in-line models but comes with a hefty price tag. 
  • Leasing allows you to use a high-quality machine without the upfront cost, but remember, interest is a sneaky add-on. 
  • Renting provides more basic models but offers the flexibility to upgrade without significant financial setbacks.

It’s also worth noting that there are many types of espresso machines. Which will differ in price a lot. Read this article to learn more.

Seasonality

It’s not just about cost; it’s about what you get for that cost and how it fits into your business model and daily operations.

For example, a business that doesn’t always use a coffee machine might not see the need to purchase the equipment. 

  • If your business fluctuates seasonally, consider the seasonal variations in cash flow. Leasing can offer the option to have a fixed monthly expense, which makes budgeting easier. 
  • If you only anticipate using the machine for part of the year, renting may allow you to return the coffee machine during off-peak months, reducing operational costs.

Tip: If you run a seasonal business, we’ve got more tips for you in our article on staffing your business during busy seasons.

Coffee Machine Options: Pros and Cons

Two cafe workers cleaning their coffee machines and grinders.

Deciding on how to acquire a coffee machine for your workspace or café involves weighing the pros and cons of each option. 

Ownership and Flexibility

Determining whether to own or lease/rent a machine depends on a combination of factors:

  1. the flexibility you need,
  2. your ability to repair it, and
  3. how long you’ll be using it. 

Buying a coffee machine gives you complete control. You can customize, repair, and sell it as you see fit. On the downside, ownership also means you’re responsible for maintenance and repairs, which can add up over time. 

Leasing and renting give you less control but often include maintenance services as part of the deal. Leasing offers more stability compared to renting, which provides the most flexibility but with less predictability.

Cash Flow Implications

If cash flow is king in your business model, listen up. You don’t have to ruin your budget to own coffee machines.

You need to consider these pros and cons to decide which option suits your taste and balance sheet:

Buying a machine requires an initial investment that might dent your cash reserves but leaves your monthly budget unaffected. 

Leasing spreads the costs but ties you into a long-term financial commitment, usually with interest and termination fees. 

Renting can be the most budget-friendly from month to month but only contributes to building asset value, like buying or even leasing, to some extent. For businesses still in the testing phase, like new start-ups, renting provides the least commitment and the ability to change the business model quickly. 

Suppose coffee isn’t drawing in customers or benefiting employees as much as expected. In that case, a rental contract is generally easier to terminate than a lease or a purchase agreement.

Case Studies and Examples

Technician opening a coffee machine

Sometimes, learning from others is the best way to grind through a decision.

Below are some case studies from both café and office settings that will hopefully help you come to a conclusion that works for your budget and your business.

Cafés

The Indie Café: This café chose to lease their espresso machine. While they paid more over time compared to buying it outright, the included maintenance and ability to upgrade kept their brews top-notch and their customers happy. Financially, the predictable monthly expense helped them manage cash flow effectively.

The Chain Café: A larger coffee shop purchased machines for multiple locations and to gift to future franchisees. The initial cost was substantial, but they gained complete control over their equipment and could negotiate volume discounts. The long-term savings were considerable, justifying the upfront expenditure.

Mom and Pop’s Café: As a small family-owned café, this café opted for renting to minimize upfront costs and keep options open for future upgrades. Their monthly budget could easily absorb the rental cost, and they appreciated the flexibility to change or upgrade machines if the business needed shifting.

Offices

Tech Start-Up: With a flexible work culture and high employee turnover, renting a coffee machine made the most sense. The leasing company handled maintenance and could quickly scale their coffee needs up or down depending on the staff size and taste.

Corporate Office: The corporate office chose to purchase. Given the stable number of employees and longer office lease, they found investing in a high-quality machine economically prudent. Maintenance was a minor issue as they had an on-site facilities team.

Small Business Office: A shared workspace found a middle ground by leasing a machine. It allowed them to provide a premium experience without the burden of ownership. Plus, the lease contract included regular maintenance, making it a hassle-free option.

Creative Agency: The agency leased a high-end machine that could also make specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. They found the variety improved client meetings and added an upscale touch to their office culture. The leasing company also offered a monthly maintenance check as part of their agreement, which saved them from potential breakdown nightmares.

Hidden Costs and Contracts

A person pulling a part out of a coffee machine for cleaning or maintenance.

Hopefully, you’ve eliminated any options that don’t apply to your business by now. The last step is uncovering some hidden costs and contractual snags to consider when making your choice.

Maintenance and Upgrades

Whether you lease, buy, or rent, maintenance is inevitable. Leasing and renting often include it, but it’s on you if you’ve purchased the machine. Costs can range from minor cleaning to significant part replacements.

If you’re leasing or renting, read your agreement to see if upgrades might be part of the deal. However, upgrading is a new, separate investment if you own the machine.

Contractual Obligations

Buying a machine avoids needing a lease and rental agreement, and you can avoid penalties, limitations, and contract conditions. 

If you can’t afford to buy a machine outright, some leasing contracts offer the option on their agreements to purchase the machine at the end of the lease, but often at a price higher than its current market value.

If you choose to lease or rent, the agreement will outline several terms you must agree to that may be an issue for your business.

  • Contracts may require a long-term commitment.
  • Penalties for things like early contract termination or damage to the machine could be applied. 
  • Rental and leasing agreements may restrict the number of brews per day or month. Exceeding these could lead to additional charges.

Remember, every decision has its complexities. So read the fine print, and don’t let those hidden costs sneak up on you.

Hidden Technology Fees

While standard brewers were fairly straightforward years ago, today’s coffee machines are often highly technical and advanced pieces of equipment. 

So, when choosing which machine you want to buy, lease, or rent, remember the variety of coffee machines available, from a standard filter brew to personal coffees and highly computerized super machines. 

These advanced machines with features like touchscreen interfaces or mobile app connectivity can come with additional technology fees or software subscriptions in addition to a higher risk of needing specialized repair and a requirement for Wi-Fi access. 

These could be a recurrent cost or a one-time activation fee, but it’s a noteworthy detail to ask about that could surprise you later if not accounted for.

Final Thoughts on Getting a Coffee Machine

Your final decision should balance your long-term goals, upfront and ongoing expenses, and the specific caffeine demands of your environment.

Each path comes with its unique blend of economic pros and cons. 

Choose the best route for your business’s future, and if you employ a café crew, we recommend Time Forge for scheduling and timekeeping.

With TimeForge, you can tighten up your workforce expenses so that you have more cash to spend on things like coffee machines. TimeForge’s real-time sales and labor dashboard is especially good for setting and sticking to a labor budget, which can help you get your finances in order before buying, leasing, or renting a coffee machine.

Try TimeForge risk free.

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