Finding your machine: Pump or Gravity?
The first time you think of getting an ice cream machine, the thought might be simple. Give me a machine which makes ice cream cones so I can sell. That form of simple desire quickly gets muddied with a ton of options and variation. We are going to try and simplify that mud.
Gravity machines require you to pour the mix into the top and it drips down into the freezing cylinder. These types of machines have a mix feed tube. Mix feed tubes use the weight of the ice cream mix to create suction and suck air into the ice cream. Although these mix feed tubes do have the variable selection, you can expect 20% - 40% overrun (air in the mix) max depending on the machine and mix. Your ability to vary this will be limited due to the nature of using suction for air. These machines are the most common and cover a full range of product categories, like frozen yogurt, soft serve, soft gelato, etc.
Quick Clean Time
Less Wearable parts
More reliable (just because it has fewer parts to fail)
Holds less mix
If any ice crystals form, It will clog the mix feed tube.
Slower Serving speed
Gravity Soft Serve Machines
Exactly as the name implies pump machines have a pump forcing mix up into the freezing cylinder. I say up, because pump machines have a refrigerated cabinet below for storage, and a pump system to force product into the freezing cylinder with an exact amount of air. This type of machine is best for very high volume locations, or where ice cream is the specialty. You will be able to dial in exactly how you want your mix to be served with different air meter options and exact temperature control. Because this type of machine uses pressure to serve mix, it's gentle on the mix while freezing, gently folding and freezing. You can run a much higher butterfat product without the worry of butter flakes. Pump machines are also ideal for cone dipping, the higher ratio of air gives a firmer creamy product helping it stay in the cone when dipped upside down.
Faster Serve and Faster Recovery Time
Able to make Cones To be dipped in hot fudge, etc.
Storage is much larger up to 30gallons
Monthly hose replacement
Longer cleaning time
Training is more involved as the pump must be assembled properly for the machine to work.