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Comparing Water Supply Methods For Espresso Machines: Direct Plumb vs. Tank vs. Switchable

Whether you’re shopping for an espresso machine for commercial or home use, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is how your machine receives its water supply. Water is essential in the creation of espresso, and your machine will either be configured for direct plumb, a tank that holds water, or a switchable option. Not sure which is best for your needs? Here, we discuss the different types of water supply.

Direct Plumb 

Machines that are plumbed into a water line are often the choice for commercial coffee shops. By connecting with a water line, the need for a reservoir is eliminated. This saves your baristas time and energy, which can really make a difference in high-volume settings. 

It’s not just professional baristas who enjoy the convenience of direct plumb machines; many home users also prefer this option. If your kitchen has a water line that’s easily accessible, then choosing a machine with the option to direct plumb can be a time-saver, as well. However, this will also mean that the machine loses its portability, so be sure to choose a permanent spot on the bar before opting for direct plumbing. 


If you’re looking for an espresso machine for a small café or your home or office, you may find that most of the machines you’re interested in have a tank or reservoir. Many compact machines, such as the Rocket Mozzafiato Timer Type V and the La Marzocco Linea Mini are configured with an internal reservoir (although the La Marzocco Linea Mini can be upgraded with a direct plumb kit). 

An internal reservoir means that you’ll have to replenish the water supply frequently, but it’s easy to move the machine. The added portability of a reservoir makes this type of setup a great choice for mobile coffee trailers. 

Switchable Machines 

Looking for the best of both worlds? Some machines have the capability to switch back and forth between the reservoir and direct water connection. This unique feature is typically found in high-end prosumer machines, and provides unprecedented flexibility. 

Once you’ve determined how many group heads you need and whether you prefer an auto-volumetric or manual paddle machine, be sure to think about your water supply needs. If you’re a home user and a 2-2.5 liter reservoir will suffice, then a compact espresso machine with a reservoir may be the best choice. On the other hand, if you’re operating a busy shop, then direct plumbing will be a significant time-saver. Switchable machines are an option too, but not all products have this capability. 

Regardless of your needs and preferences, we’ve got you covered at Voltage Coffee Supply. We know there’s a lot to consider, and if you have any questions, we’re happy to help. Our customer service team is just a phone call or email away, so please reach out to us for assistance

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