According to a recent survey by the National Coffee Association, Americans are drinking more coffee than ever, with the average person spending $1,100 on coffee annually. While 79 percent of those surveyed say they make coffee at home, the popularity of locally-owned coffee houses and chains such as Starbucks means that the demand for espresso machine repair technicians should stay strong.
Espresso machine repair techs perform a variety of installation, maintenance and repair services for machines in commercial establishments such as cafes and restaurants. Some repair technicians also serve residential customers who bring their machines into a shop.
Technicians install the wiring and tubing essential to the operation of a commercial espresso machine. They regulate temperature, pressure and volumetric doses. With their understanding of water characteristics such as alkalinity and hardness, they choose the correct type of filter for each individual machine. Routine maintenance includes descaling and replacing shower heads, gaskets and the burrs in a coffee grinder.
There is no formal education requirement as a prerequisite for enrollment in espresso machine repair school. Certified espresso machine technician training covers hands-on repairs as well as the science of grinding and extraction of the espresso product. This overall understanding helps technicians communicate with customers when discussing espresso machine use and maintenance. Although certification is not required by law and techs don't have to be licensed by their state, certification will greatly enhance your employment opportunities.
The International Barista Coffee Academy, in Tempe, AZ, offers basic and advanced technician training courses by appointment. A one-day basic course, which costs $595, covers troubleshooting and repair for a variety of machine types. The three-day advanced class costs $1,395 and includes everything covered in the basic class, plus the following topics:
- Hydraulic circuitry of automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines
- Electrical and electronics
- Resources for machines, parts and systems
- Espresso-making and milk-frothing tips and tricks
The advanced course includes a hands-on component in which you will take apart a commercial machine to study troubleshooting, individual components, hydraulics, and electrical and electronics systems.
A five-day intensive maintenance program, which costs $2,795, includes the basic and advanced classes plus a full day of field experience. You will shadow a technician who will perform at least three service calls at retail locations in the Tempe area.
Credentialing at the International Barista Coffee Academy is made through the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). In addition to maintenance and repair, candidates can earn certification in brewing, roasting, tasting and barista skills. Multiple certifications are recommended, but not required, for coffee shop owners and managers as well as for repair technicians.
The Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) is developing espresso machine repair training that it hopes to launch in 2019. Training modules at foundation, intermediate and professional levels will be offered in cleaning and preventative maintenance, hydraulics, electronics, coffee preparation and shop management.
If you're planning a trip to Europe, consider enrolling in the Espresso Academy in Florence, Italy. The Academy's two-day course, which costs about $275, covers all aspects of maintenance, troubleshooting and repair. An optional third day of espresso machine repair school costs an additional $110 and prepares you to service home machines. Visit Espresso Academy's website to see a list of schools around the world that will train and certify you in the Italian Barista Method.
Some techs have not attended any espresso machine repair school but have been fortunate enough to get on-the-job training, usually after spending time as a barista. You might consider this option if you're unable to travel to obtain training. Once you've proven yourself on the job, an employer may be willing to sponsor your attendance at a training program offering certification.
Reliable transportation is essential, as technicians must travel to commercial locations to service espresso machines. Repair techs must be able to work in tight spaces. They may have to perform their services while the establishment is actively serving customers. Repair techs need to be able to bend, kneel and lift heavy parts and equipment.
Smaller, home-based machines are typically repaired in a shop that services a variety of home appliances, including vacuums and sewing machines.
Salary and Job Outlook
Coffee machine technicians typically make from $12 to $30 per hour, depending on a variety of factors, including geographic location. Jobs that pay more are generally in regions where the cost of living is higher.
Use a cost of living calculator such as the one at PayScale.com to make costs and earnings comparisons for any locations in the U.S.