The beverage machine market is certainly frothing over, with more Brits than ever stopping off for their favourite brew at the thousands of coffee shops and cafes that have sprung up over the last few years.
One supplier benefiting from this is Maidaid, which, while it is most well known for its warewashing offerings, has over 30 years’ experience in supplying espresso coffee machines to the distributor market. It imports brands such as Bezzera and Barista. Bezzera’s Bistro range underwent a major cosmetic design upgrade during 2014.
Maidaid’s Matt Titchener commented: “With the increase in coffee’s popularity, Maidaid is finding more establishments see the requirement to offer the sight, sound and theatre experience of traditional espresso coffee. This requirement has even recently spread to family theme parks that now wish to offer the full coffee experience.”
He sees a bright future for the sector, as the company is supplying more traditional coffee machines than ever before. “The prime trend we have seen over recent months has been the increase in sales of three group models.”
Another supplier, Coffee 1652, is reporting an increasing awareness of and demand for attention to detail in the drinks’ production to ensure a consistent ability to serve high quality coffee. Sales director, Peter Atmore said: “There has never been such intense interest and awareness from our clients of the value of technology in controlling extraction, temperature, pressure and grind to guarantee results meet an ever increasing knowledge about coffee quality. Manufacturers are responding to this with sophisticated technology, modern contemporary design features and an emphasis on reliability and technical support.”
Coffee 1652 supplies equipment from manufacturers including Keurig, Bravilor, Marco, Fracino, La Marzocco, Franke and So-Pure. It has added a number of new models to its range, such as the Marco JET bulk brew system. “Traditionally, bulk brew systems were functional and utilitarian – not something to have on display. This new model changes that approach, with the traditional reputation of reliable dependability that Marco has developed over the years,” commented Atmore.
Franke will also shortly introduce replacements for its Flair & Evolution models – again, driven by an ultra-modern and luxury front of house presentation focus. Additional features on the new Franke models should enhance drink quality and simplify the daily cleaning programme.
Atmore believes that the coffee sector is dividing in to two camps: consistency and minimal operator involvement with fully automatic bean-to-cup and fresh milk systems, or the theatre and bespoke, hand crafted presentation and personalised beverage creativity of the trained barista using high quality traditional semi-automatic equipment.
He detailed: “There has been a marked increase in the sales of the Keurig K-Cup coffee pod system, traditionally an office coffee product, into the specialty coffee sector as clients look to improve quality, offer choice and control costs. This system prepares freshly brewed filter coffee, by individual cup, on demand. Capsule based espresso coffee is attracting similar interest – again, enabling clients to offer a choice of blends, whilst maintaining quality and freshness on low turnover varieties.” [[page-break]]
He also reported that premium quality tea is in the ascendency. “Boilers such as Marco’s Uber model, with precision temperature control, accessories such as tea timers for perfect infusion times and glass teapots for visual effect, are all featuring in our sales presentations.”
Over at Caffeine Ltd, it has seen bean-to-cup machines becoming the machine of choice for fast easy service. Justin Stockwell, MD, explained: “Lots of people claim that you need 25 seconds and a trained barista to brew an espresso. It’s true the traditional machines need up to 30 seconds. But modern bean-to-cup machines are easy for anyone to operate and use different temperatures and pressures, so they can brew faster. Crucially, bean-to-cup machines also use more coffee per single shot – typically 10g as opposed to 7g. They pre-brew the coffee, too, by dampening it before the main shot of water is put through, which achieves better extraction.”
He believes that as the technology develops, it’s getting easier for operators to offer a more complex coffee menu. “The more advanced bean-to-cup espresso machines are multifunctional; they can offer many different drink variations at the touch of a button.”
On Caffeine Ltd’s roster are the Schaerer and Gaggia brands, and Schaerer is soon to unveil new espresso machines that feature an advanced milk system said to give total control of the texture and temperature of the foam. Claimed to be simple to use, the exact consistency and temperature of milk foam can be set. The milk system is designed for use with both hot and cold beverages, reflecting the rapid growth of cold espresso-based drinks.
However, hot drinks would not be able to be created without water boiling equipment, and UK manufacturer Instanta believes its current portfolio of nearly 40 models is the widest range in the country.
The firm recently extended its CPF Premium range with the addition of three units that offer a higher outlet, so that they can be used in conjunction with flasks and airports. It has also introduced a compact unit which is designed to fit on the countertop but is small enough to be sited under any wall mounted shelving or cupboards.
Graham Crisp, Instanta’s sales director, reported: “Interestingly we have seen a small but noticeable increase in sales of our combined hot water and steam machines. This might seem strange given the growth in the market for espresso machines but if you are a traditional café that is just interested in producing frothy milk for adding to coffee then our machines are an excellent solution.
“Filtration is becoming an increasingly important part of the purchasing decision for many customers. Many machines now have built-in filtration but the quality varies. For example, there are machines that have filters that need changing after 3,000 litres whereas the filters on our machines are good for up to 13,500 litres. [[page-break]]
“So, although a rival machine might be cheaper to buy, it will get through as many as four filters for every one of ours. This means that when you take into account the cost of the replacement filter and the labour to fit it, the whole life cost is actually greater. That is a good reason why the person responsible for the cost of maintaining the equipment should be involved in the purchasing decision.”
He anticipated that as the economy picks up there will be a shift towards more quality, energy efficient products that will provide better ongoing cost savings and filtration that lasts longer.
Also well known for water boilers, Lincat has seen more people taking an interest in the quality of water. “The secret behind a really great cup of tea or coffee is high-quality filtered water. Water which is heated to the right temperature and free from contaminants really does make all the difference. This is why we are gradually seeing competitors following our lead and introducing filtration models,” a company spokesperson stated.
There are seven FilterFlow automatic water boilers in the Lincat range, each with built-in filtration. Last year it added a new push-button model, the EB3F/PBM, to its portfolio, which can be programmed to dispense up to three different, precise quantities of premium quality, filtered water.
The company remarked: “We are witnessing a change in the type of hot beverages the nation is drinking. Coffee bars and specialist coffees saw a rise in popularity about 10 years ago, however, the past few years has seen tea fight back, which is reflected in the resurgence of afternoon tea as an occasion.
“This has had an impact on the sales of equipment, as different teas require varying water temperatures. Whilst most black and red teas need boiling water, most of the others do not. Some green and white teas for example should be made with water that has been heated to just 70°C. Different temperatures can be achieved through the use of separate boilers or kettles set to different temperatures, and it’s worth making the effort to get this just right.”
Lincat sees no sign of hot beverage popularity waning, and with increasing variety in the types of hot drinks available, it envisages continued growth in this area.
Sean Pittaway, coffee specialist at UCC Coffee UK and Ireland, has seen grinders come to the fore, with temperature stability and consistency key to their design. The firm supplies the new Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinder, which features Clima-Pro technology. The grinder has been developed to boost speed of service, efficiency and consistency through temperature regulation. Another new offering is its Victoria Arduino VA388 Black Eagle traditional espresso machine.
“We’ll see a continued focus on the importance of consistency in espresso with temperature stability, linked grinders and scales on traditional espresso machines playing a key role,” predicted Pittaway.