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Points to consider when purchasing a coffee machine for the office

The first thing to consider is the type and quality of drinks which you want your coffee machine to be able to offer.  

  •  Bean-to-cup coffee: These are machines which offer the highest quality of coffee available. They generally operate on the principle of taking coffee beans and grinding them only when you press the selection button. The coffee is then extracted by utilising the application of hot water and pressure through the ground coffee. Therefore this method is known as making espresso based coffee drinks and provided that the machine is of sufficient quality; this is generally the best quality coffee available and with the lowest natural caffeine content due tot he very short brew time.

Machines that utilise espresso based bean coffee with milk to make espresso drinks such as Cappuccino and Caffe Latte can be found in the Jura Impressa range of machines with various sizes suitable for Office use and domestic use.

Machines that utilise espresso based bean coffee with creamer and also offer drinks with hot chocolate mixed into the drink such as Chococcino and Espressochoc can be found in our Bianchi coffee vending machine range.

  • Instant coffee: These machines generally mix together a range of powdered ingredients with instant coffee such as Ciro Crema or Nescafe to produce a variety of easily and quickly prepared drinks such as white coffee; cappuccino; hot chocolate and moccacino to name just a few of the drink options and can be found in our Bianchi coffee vending machine range. 
  • Filter coffee: These machines take pre-ground coffee from beans and brew the coffee via heated water into either a permanent filter or paper filter to seperate the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. Domestic machines generally have smaller capacities for 4-5 cups and larger industrial brands such as Coffee Queen have capacities for 10-12 cups 

Second, identify the extent of the drinks provided. A good combination of a number of ingredient cannisters (usually four or five) as well as a good number of selection buttons such as a minimum of eight buttons will usually indicate that the machine is able to provide a large variety of drinks would generally indicate that you are in the market for a vending types of machine. Generally, the more cannisters and selection buttons - the better - this will provide staff members with a huge variety of drinks to suit many different tastes, but not all buttons need to be used, it just provides better value for money if you are able to get the most out of the machine. On the other hand; if authentic cappuccino's and latte's are what is required with very little need for hot chocolate and other drinks, then a Jura fully automatic espresso/cappuccino machine is probably the way to go.

Third, look for “pre-selection” options. These provide the opportunity to adjust things such as the sugar dosage through the machine, in order to tailor-make your beverage. 

Fourth, identify how many people will use the machine. A small countertop machine can cater for anything between 5 and 50 staff members. Sometimes, having two countertop machines, with two dispensing points is better than one large machine, as it can serve beverages faster by dispensing two cups at a time. Should a machine break down, than at least the operation can still go on with one machine. Also, sometimes a smaller specialist machine is simply unsuitable when you need to cater for 50-100 staff members and in this case, then a vending option is probably the best machine to look at.

Fifth, decide if you want to use porcelain cups or disposable cups and in the case of the latter, whether the machine should vend them or not. Using porcelain cups saves money and provides a better drink quality as there is no cost past the initial purchase and the material holds heat and has no “taint”. Vended cups are usually made from paper and can be hot to the touch and care needs to be taken if you want to have the machine vend your cups. Another alternative, if you feel that washing porcelain cups or having hot plastic cups are not options,  is to stack paper or polyfoam cups next to the machine.

Sixth, the quality of the drinks and the quality of the various machines can differ greatly. Coffee vending machines differ in quality and you certainly do not want one that is breaking down on a weekly basis – does this happen? Select a reputable brand name and beware of cheap brands from places like South Korea and China. "Italian designed" does not mean manufatured in Italy!  Please be careful of companies that misrepresent this and you end up with a machine made in the far east which is not what you intended to buy in the first place.

Seventh, after sales service - the big kahuna! Should things go wrong, or should you need (as you will) maintenance for your machine (like a service for your car!), you’ll want reliable and efficient service. No two vending machine suppliers are the same and service levels differ dramatically in the industry. There are some major brand name companies whose service is known to be exceptionally poor and there are smaller companies whose service is excellent. Take real care here – it is always the difference between a pleasant experience and a wasted investment. Many companies make claims about their great service - don't be afraid to ask for referrals - a company proud of their track record with it's clients will not feel offended to provide you with proof of their good service, but don't just read the list, contact the companies involved, you will be amazed at the suppliers that make up names of customers or put customers on their list that they no longer deal with. Even better, ask them for names of ex-customers, so you can find out why customers stop doing business with them.

Eighth, Take plenty of consideration when weighing up a pod or capsule type of system. These types of machines are often only able to work with one type of pod or capsule. This means that once you fork out anything from R400 to R10 000 for a machine like this, you can only buy from the people that sold you the machine and are also therefore locked into exhorbitant prices, anything from R4.00 to R6.00 a capsule/pod. The pods and capsules are also often imported, which means that the ground coffee in the pod or capsule is at least six weeks old before it even gets into the country. Often, you need to buy a minimum of 100 - 200 capsules or pods which means it starts getting really expensive. Fresh ground bean-to-cup systems can cost from as little as R 0.70 to R 2.00 per cup (@R2.00 a cup, this means Lavazza and Illy quality coffee's)

Lastly, take note of your gut instinct when making contact with the varous companies that provide coffee machines. Although no-one is perfect all the time, if you are struck with a particular vein of arrogance or unhelpfulness by a company; it's probably a good idea to have another look around, generally those types of reponses are a signal of general bad service or a company which is in decline.

 

If you need any further advice, please don't hesitate to contact us, we love talking about coffee!!!

 


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