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What is a Saturated Group Head?

On the search for high-quality commercial espresso machines and accessories for your shop? If you’re just getting started, you may be wondering which features your machines should have. There are two main types of group heads to consider: saturated and semi-saturated. As with any product, both categories have pros and cons to consider. Here, we’ll break down what the group head does and why a saturated group head may be the best fit for your café:

How the Group Head Works

All espresso machines are equipped with a group head. This part is the last stop in the process before the espresso reaches its destination (of the cup). The group head is the part that introduces the hot, pressurized water to the puck of coffee. Although there are several types of group heads, all are composed of the same basic parts. Connected to the group head, you’ll find the portafilter, portafilter lock, a pressure switch, and a channel for water movement from the boiler to the portafilter.

The Difference Between a Saturated and Semi-Saturated Group Head

The two primary types of group heads are saturated and semi-saturated. A saturated group head is surrounded by water and exposed to the boiler. Unlike a semi-saturated group head, which is an entirely separate part, a saturated group head is akin to an extension of the boiler. Because the group head is joined with the boiler and draws water directly from this part, this type of machine provides stable temperatures.

On the other hand, semi-saturated group heads have a heat exchanger that separates the group head from the boiler. In this type of structure, tubing is often used to direct the flow of water outside and around the grouphead. As a result, temperatures are less stable–but they’re easier to repair and tend to require less maintenance.

If your goal is to maintain a stable temperature as shots are pulled, a machine with a saturated group head may be the best choice. Most high-end machines are equipped with saturated group heads (such as the La Marzocco GS3), as top baristas tend to prefer this setup. Regardless of your preference, we carry a wide array of espresso machines with both saturated and semi-saturated group heads. There’s something for everyone here, from small, specialty shops to high-volume cafés and even home coffee enthusiasts. If you have any questions regarding the products we stock or financing options, we’d love to help. Please contact our team to start the process.



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