Clarification on espresso machine safety inspections expected soon

It is now hoped that the authorities may very soon issue a report on their investigation into the explosion of an espresso machine in a supermarket café last year – the trade magazine Boughton’s Coffee House has learned that official bodies have been involved in consultations with players in the beverage trade, with a view to establishing what actually happens in the supply of espresso machines to the catering industry, and what really happens in the continuing maintenance and inspection of machines.

However, it is clear that there is still disagreement and misunderstanding in the coffee trade concerning the inspection and certification of espresso machines. And so, the Coffee Council has now published its own report setting out how the current situation came about, where the disagreements have arisen, and what are thought to be the major hazards for the trade – most specifically, the main dangers for front-line catering operators.

The main problem is still the general suspicion that a vast number of commercial espresso machines used in the catering industry are not covered by the required certification of inspection.

This need for a commercial espresso machine to be inspected and certified regularly is not in doubt, because it is a requirement under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations, 2000. It is the detail which is confusing – nobody knows how many operators in the UK’s immense hospitality trade are even aware of this requirement, and there are doubts over how regularly it should be done.

It is not even clear who is qualified to issue such certification – one interpretation is that the inspection of the espresso machine has to be handled by an independent inspector, referred to in some regulations as the ‘competent person’. If this is so, a caterer’s usual espresso engineer is not allowed to do it.

The regulatory authorities and the insurance companies do not speak clearly on the matter, and there is even doubt as to which is the appropriate regulating authority. The viewpoint of the insurance companies is extremely difficult to understand, and they have said nothing to help clarify the fear that in the event of an accident, a caterer’s public liability insurance could be deemed void if their espresso machine had no written scheme of inspection.

The Coffee Council has now set out the various conflicting points of view, and says that the matter must now be made clear.

The Coffee Council has called on the regulatory authorities to work together to give an unequivocal ruling, and to present the requirements for espresso machine testing in clear and unmistakeable language. The Coffee Council has said that the insurance profession must set out immediately, and in crystal-clear language, their requirements for espresso machine testing, and the implications of non-compliance for a caterer’s business. The Coffee Council asks beverage trade associations and suppliers of espresso machines to work to ensure that all caterers are aware of the requirements for testing and certification.

Until the matter is clear, the Coffee Council urges great caution on the part of both catering operators and the engineering trade. Catering operators using an espresso machine might consider it wise to consult their equipment supplier and their insurers for opinions on how they stand – but they are warned that as yet, any views received may be opinions, and worth no more than that.

And until a specific directive received from the authorities, says the Council, espresso engineers themselves might consider it unsafe to act as both engineer and certifying ‘competent person’.

The full document can be read here:

The Coffee Council.

The Coffee Council is an informal association of members of the catering trade, specifically from the coffee side of the trade, who believe that it is valuable for issues of importance to be highlighted and discussed throughout the trade.

The Council can be contacted through Louie Salvoni at Espresso Service, at 0844 692 2222


%d bloggers like this: