Starbucks is a polarizing force in the world of coffee lovers.
With a ubiquitous presence in cities and suburbs all over the planet, and a distinctively memorable style of coffee, most people who enjoy coffee have, at one point or another, sampled some Starbucks coffee.
There are some that dislike the brand—whether for the commercial dominance of their cafes or the unique flavor of their brew—but many more people the world over love Starbucks’ coffee.
It’s no surprise that many coffee lovers want to make the Starbucks barista obsolete in their lives by figuring out the magic of Starbucks’ espresso machine.
Savvy enthusiasts of this mindset have come to learn that this king amongst commercial espresso machines has a name—the Mastrena espresso machine.
This espresso machine is incredible and beats out even the most expensive espresso machine you can find at retail.
So what makes it so special, and why can’t other coffee shops seem to match its performance or product?
Let’s dive in and find out.
- First Off: What is a Mastrena Espresso Machine?
- What Makes the Mastrena Espresso Machine Special
- How Much Does a Mastrena Espresso Machine Cost?
- Difference Between Mastrena 1 & 2 Espresso Machine
- Why did Starbucks move away from La Marzocco?
- Can You Buy One of The Starbucks’ Espresso Machines?
- Mastrena Coffee Machine alternatives
- Wrap-Up: Mastrena Starbucks Espresso Machine—The Best in the Business?
First Off: What is a Mastrena Espresso Machine?
The Mastrena espresso machine is a proprietary, automatic espresso machine developed and manufactured by Thermoplan AG—a Swiss company that employs around 230 people.
It actually belongs to a class of coffee makers called “super-automatic espresso machines” for their unrivaled abilities to brew perfect shots continuously, cup after cup, with minimal downtime and exceptional ease of use.
Development & Background
Thermoplan AG has an extensive history in coffee making and has been in business since the 1950s.
The company was relatively unknown in the coffee world before Starbucks partnered with them but they had a unique edge in the level of automation and scalability that Starbucks needed to grow its business to a global level.
Namely, they developed a unique system of cloud-connected high-performance espresso machines that caught Starbucks’ eye.
Since the company needed a highly automated model of espresso machine that could reliably operate at high production volume throughout the day while needing minimal maintenance and expertise from baristas,
Thermoplan’s technology was a perfect fit.
Today the company makes super-automatic espresso machines that are exclusive to Starbucks.
These machines use the same parts as their Verismo 801, but they’re an upgraded version of those components.
What Makes the Mastrena Espresso Machine Special
Mastrena espresso machines are very unique. The single spout, the flat spare, and the buttons up top are all unique.
The buttons are illuminated to make it clear to baristas what’s being made and how much brewing time remains. It also features an LCD screen to make interactions easy.
A truly commercial espresso machine, the Mastrena uses a computerized menu system to grind coffee beans with precision and calculates the appropriate setting to deliver consistent quality each and every time.
Its memory controller also keeps track of temperature, dose, and grind to make the perfect, consistent cup of coffee.
It can brew up to 240 shots in one hour, making it an excellent choice for home use.
How Much Does a Mastrena Espresso Machine Cost?
The Thermoplan Mastrena espresso machine is a top-notch commercial machine, and it’s estimated to cost between $15,000 and $25,000.
Unlike other espresso machines, it is designed specifically for commercial use, so affordability or price appeal to a broad retail market is not intended to be a selling point.
Why Are Mastrena Espresso Machines So Expensive?
First and foremost, a Mastrena espresso machine isn’t for home use. It’s a commercial product, designed to meet the needs of businesses.
The proprietary Starbucks espresso machine can make 240 espresso shots per hour, which makes them much faster than a home machine.
They don’t require nearly as much cleaning or maintenance compared to their brew volume, and the parts they use aren’t just higher end than a good espresso machine available at retail, they’re fully industrial grade.
If you think about the Mastrena espresso machine cost from the perspective of a simple, high-quality automatic espresso machine, its price seems exorbitant.
But if you consider that putting a Thermoplan Mastrena inside a cafe essentially transforms it into a high-capacity, rapid-pace coffee production operation, it’s a different story.
The Mastrena’ coffee machine directly enables Starbucks’ business. Its costs are covered within just a few days of use.
And since Starbucks owns the exclusive rights to these machines, the price is also much higher than even the highest-end home espresso machine.
Difference Between Mastrena 1 & 2 Espresso Machine
The Thermoplan Mastrena CS2 is an older model of automatic espresso machine that used a huge hopper and built-in burr grinder. In addition to a large hopper, the CS2 had a frothing wand.
It was designed to serve more than 100 people per day.
The Thermoplan Mastrena CS2 was replaced in recent years by the Mastrena II.
The Mastrena 1 has a single spout while the Mastrena 2 has a flat spare.
The two espresso machines feature different features, with the Mastrena II displaying the time since the last rinse.
The Mastrena also has a maintenance cycle of more than 50,000 brews and a programmable memory control panel.
The Mastrena II is built to last even longer than its predecessor could, while increasing brew volume with giant bean hoppers.
Why did Starbucks move away from La Marzocco?
When Starbucks was first spreading its wings and becoming a household name, it wasn’t using custom-built Mastrena espresso makers.
The first well-known, standard-issue Starbucks espresso machine was the La Marzocco Linea, which was not an automatic espresso machine.
At one point, these machines were in every store.
However, by the early 2000s, all of the Starbucks coffee shops had switched to super-automatic espresso machines.
The Italian company La Marzocco first made its debut in the United States in 1989.
The “Linea Classic” was given a spot on the counters of Starbucks stores in Seattle.
The company updated the machine twenty-four years later, with the “Linea PB,” which featured major stylistic and technological updates.
Its evolution in the coffee industry reflects the company’s mission.
The company hopes to remain a key partner in the coffee industry and the ultimate luxury kitchen accessory for home coffee connoisseurs.
As the company grew into a global brand, its leadership determined that a switch to fully automated espresso machines would simplify the coffee-making process.
It would eliminate the need for baristas to constantly adjust their grinds and brew settings.
The new machines would leave these tasks to a technician who would show up a few times a month.
Nevertheless, the company opted to stay loyal to the brand and still uses the La Marzocco machines in boutique cafes in select markets.
Can You Buy One of The Starbucks’ Espresso Machines?
Still want to own your own Thermoplan Mastrena? Happy to shell out the $20,000 to have your own personal Starbucks in your kitchen?
Official dealer Channels
We’ll get straight to it: You can’t buy a Starbucks espresso machine—at least not directly, easily and legitimately. They’re made in Switzerland exclusively for Starbucks.
The company co-developed them and has an exclusive license to purchase and use them, so there is no legitimate sales channel through which to purchase one.
Gray market options
It is, however, technically possible to get your hands on a Thermoplan Mastrena espresso machine, if you’re willing to seek one out second-hand.
You’re more likely to find the older Thermoplan Mastrena CS2 model than the Mastrena 2, and it’s likely to have been through substantial (commercial) use before it lands in your kitchen.
Fortunately, you can get a cheaper version for a few hundred dollars, if you’re not hell-bent on only the Mastrena espresso machine by name.
Mastrena Coffee Machine alternatives
If you’re looking for an espresso machine that has all of the features of the Mastrena, without having to essentially steal Starbucks’ espresso machine, you won’t have any trouble.
You can easily get yourself an espresso machine comparable to the Mastrena coffee machine, that produces delicious, quality brews with reliable, highly-customizable settings.
You can even find a top-of-the-line espresso machine that, just like the Mastrena espresso machine, doesn’t require nearly as much cleaning or maintenance as many of the high-end alternatives.
The best news?
Even the best home alternative to the Thermoplan Mastrena coffee machine will only cost you a tiny fraction of what you’d have to shell out for a legitimate Thermoplan mastrena CS2.
With these you’ll still feel like you have your very own personal coffee shop.
One alternative to the Mastrena that we’re fans of is the Gaggia Anima Coffee and Espresso Machine. This machine is easy to use thanks to its intuitive controls and six buttons.
Its features include a large storage hopper, built-in coffee grinder, frothing wands with automatic shut-offs, and a 67-ounce water tank.
Although the Gaggia is not as sophisticated as the Mastrena, it has many of the same features and produces exceptional espresso.
Another option worth considering is the Breville Barista Express.
Breville makes some of the best coffee machines available to individual consumers.
If you want a truly excellent alternative to a super-automatic espresso machine, consider that Breville’s devices will reliably produce some exquisite espresso-based beverages.
They offer models that feature a giant bean hopper, just like the Mastrena.
Their best model accepts pre-ground coffee and can take coffee beans fresh and whole, grinding them as part of their coffee shop-on-your-counter brewing process.
Wrap-Up: Mastrena Starbucks Espresso Machine—The Best in the Business?
The Thermoplan Mastrena espresso machine may very well be the best espresso machine in the world.
After all, when you have Starbucks’ resources focused on designing an espresso machine that can support thousands of global coffee shops while producing consistent, high-quality espresso shots, you can optimize every component for peak performance.
Do you need a Mastrena coffee machine?
In short, definitely not.
Even if for the most discerning coffee enthusiast, there’s just no real benefit to going through the trouble and expense of tracking down this proprietary espresso machine for home use.
On a commercial scale, Starbucks definitely has a winner, and it’s no wonder other coffee shop chains as well as wealthy consumers have persistently sought to replicate and purchase their espresso machine for themselves.