Canto ESFB Review

The success of this machine is what has encouraged most other models to emulate its huge range of options... it led the way in terms of variety: real leaf and instant tea (don't go there), real bean and instant coffee, soups, numerical as well as name selections...The Canto gave us real choice for the first time. It's still a major player, and the most popular coffee machine in Europe, so what's it really like?

We went for the 12 oz (larger cup) Canto ESFB to judge drink quality and to see how it compared. After an hour and a half of setting up and calibrating the machine (pretty standard with this category of equipment) we turned our attention to the drinks. And because we're a little geeky over our vending, and for proper scientific purposes, here's what we used:

  • Pep coffee beans
  • Millfresh Gold freeze dried milk
  • PG Tips leaf tea
  • Galaxy Hot chocolate
  • 12oz Benders paper cups

The espresso base drink is made by the Canto’s Z4000 coffee unit and from there the milk is whipped up into a low fat creamy consistency, then the drink is blended into the cup. We found that we had to get the milk foam under control, but that’s a good problem to have because most vending machines don’t have any foamy lightness to their drinks. The drink quality and mouth feel is good and once we tweaked the machine to resolve the overabundance of milk foam we got an excellent drink. We moved through the entire drink range and of course by the end of our tasting and tweaking session we were buzzing, so switched to testing the decaf, hot chocolate and tea options!

The Canto tea brewer emulates a tea bag by taking a portion of PG Tips leaf tea, passing it through a teabag like mesh and pouring it into the cup. You can select the strength and volume of sugar just as you can with all the coffees. The Galaxy hot chocolate we used is always a winner and in our opinion the best on the market. The Canto simply mixes up the drink and delivers it lump-free (yes, lump free!) into the cup.

In terms of appearance, the machine's styling is unassuming and perhaps a little dated compared to other manufacturers, but there is a timeless simplicity and functionality to its form – it’s not trying to be an I-pad or a spaceship. The internals maketh the drink, and the Z4000 coffee brewer does do a great job of that.

Where this is a perfect fit?
If you need a machine that can handle several hundred drinks without any intervention then this is the best option on the market. The Canto is heavily used by blue chip companies because of the reliability and consistency and its capacity to deal with heavy use. You’ll also find it in call centres, NHS sites, schools, colleges etc. If you're looking to cater to a large number and want something hassle free, this is a good option delivered with our fully managed service, so you don't have anything at all to worry about, we'll handle refills, cleaning and maintenance.


It's great because...

  • Best full size machine available
  • Consistent drink quality
  • Low price, great value

It falls down on...

  • A bit dated in looks
  • Bewildering amount of options
  • Needs a proper water feed (dishwasher connection)


  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 65 x 183 x 76 cm
  • Water boiler 5.3 Litres
  • Coffee grounds container (servings) approx. 500
  • Programmable coffee strength 2 levels
  • Cup size 9oz (small) or 12oz (medium)
  • Integrated rinsing, cleaning and descaling programme
  • Switch-on and switch-off times can be specified for each day of the week
  • Number of drink type options 22

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