Commercial Safety Certification Guide
If you’re buying an espresso machine to start a coffee shop or cart then safety certifications can be vital to your business’ success. There are two main certifications that are applied to espresso machines: NSF and ETL. In short, these certifications simply mean that a product has been certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (or NRTL), recognized by OSHA, to meet a certain safety standard. NSF and ETL are two such standards.
Given that, you’d think the meaning of these certifications would be clear and that determining which ones you need would be easy. Bureaucracy may have its benefits but those aren’t them, so we’re here to clear up the differences between these incredibly valuable stickers so you can buy your new workhorse machine with confidence.
NSF (Nationa Sanitation Foundation)
NSF International, originally founded as the Nationa Sanitation Foundation in 1944, evaluates the factories in which products are made and the products themselves to ensure that their standards are met. They have an extensive list of requirements that covers everything from the outer finishes of the machine to the tools required to assemble and disassemble it. The main reason NSF certification is so valued by restaurants and coffee shops is that it essentially guarantees the machine will meet health department rules in the US and Canada. A health inspector will have to personally evaluate a non-certified machine for food safety and are somewhat likely to mark you down for the hazards implicit with its use. In contrast, on seeing an NSF sticker they’re likely to just give it a quick once over and move along.
ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories)
The origins of Electrical Testing Laboratories trace back to a lamp testing center established by Thomas Edison, and it is now a certification provided by Intertek They evaluate foodservice equipment on electrical safety and sanitation standards. Unlike NSF, they have unique certification marks. The most common is “ETL Listed” which certifies the machine for workplace safety. They also have a specific “ETL Sanitation” mark which denotes sanitation and food safety. Many machines will have both marks, and these certifications are valid throughout the USA and Canada.
UL (Underwriters Laboratories)
Underwriters Laboratories, now known simply as UL, offers certifications services fairly similar to the two previous laboratories but is not used as commonly for espresso machines. It is worth noting that a machine with both ETL and NSF marks is entirely certified for commercial use, so a UL mark is generally not necessary, but having three certifications certainly doesn’t hurt. UL’s services include inspection, advisory services, education and training, testing, auditing and analytics, certification software solutions, and marketing claim verification.All of the espresso machines in our Commerical category have ETL and NSF certification. We always recommend that customers looking to start a business buy commercially certified machines. In part, and by no coincidence, it’s because those machines are often the best suited for handling commercial levels of use. Espresso machines like the direct plumb LUCCA A53 and the La Marzocco Linea Mini the machines we most frequently recommend small to medium scale businesses on account of their power, durability, and commercial safety certifications.