At the London Coffee Festival this year our Managing Director, Andrew Tucker, joined a panel of industry leaders in espresso equipment for an interactive session: 'Coffee Machines: Where Next?'.

During this session, led by Professor Jonathan Morris, the panel were able to compare their ideas and Andrew was asked to share his thoughts in answering key questions surrounding predictions and developments for the sector. Here’s what he had to say:

What are the biggest developments for coffee machines and equipment in the next 3 years?

Machines are moving quite quickly and have been for the last few years so that's going to be a continued trend. There will be automation increasingly coming in where you've got existing problems in coffee machines. Wherever you have baristas facing problems, people will try to find a solution, so I think we'll find further information and development around scales, weight, grinder weaknesses, etc. I think the designs of machines will continue to become lower in height as they move to the front counter, this way there can be more interaction between customer and barista. Additionally, the development of different looking machines and customisation will gain even more popularity, giving businesses the opportunity to be more individual.

Can you expand on your thoughts on automation?

A lot of the automation and technical advances in coffee machines at the moment are giving the barista the opportunity to be more creative whilst allowing the rest of the team to repeat that creativity consistently. There are so many great coffees now on the market, it is important for higher skilled baristas, who have the skills to pull all the great flavours from that coffee, use the equipment to do that and ensure the quality of that product can be met by colleagues.

So, having a very standard coffee machine that requires a lot of skill to be creative with is becoming a bit outdated and now you need machines that people can really set up to make something special on and reproduce it again and again for service.

I wanted to ask about that ecological footprint of machines, we've got some big machines here and many of us are involved with supplying big machines that use a lot of energy and are manufactured with various materials. I want to know you're thinking about that, what you're doing about that and where you feel the market is going with that?

What we found is that the single boiler coffee machines will use about 50% more power to do the same job as a multi boiler, PID controlled, insulated machine. That's quite a significant impact if you take statistics of 880 000 coffee machines estimated to be across just 5 European countries of The UK , Germany, France, Italy and Spain. With all of those coffee machines, which are primarily single boiler uninsulated machines, there’s a huge amount of energy being dissipated. These machines are designed to run at 120 - 125 degrees Celsius but we want to make coffee at 93 degrees so we're by default dumping at least 20% of the energy that's used in the machine and it's uninsulated. It's a huge issue that let's be honest coffee machine manufacturers have ducked and avoided for a long time and haven't paid much attention to for many years.

Part of what we've been doing through our SEEM project is trying to raise awareness by starting a proposed benchmarking system which could lead to much better things for the industry.

[Sanremo as a manufacturer are leading this to an extent.  They have developed a range of machines called the SEEM range, all of which are designed to save a significant reduction in energy consumption]

Audience Member: Lots of restaurants and sites each with a different requirement for coffee (huge high-volume restaurants with bean to cup machines, and independents that have customers after the finest quality coffee and some in between) Will there ever be a machine to fit all of those needs?

Andrew: I think we're humans after all and we all want different things. As well as our own desire to have something different in a different location because you think it looks good or looks right you've also got the commercial side of things as well. For example, cars, vans, lorries…they all do the same thing and drive from A to B but some have got more capacity. If you run a full-on place, you're going to need something that can churn out a lot of coffee whereas if you've got a smaller place, you'll want a smaller machine that does less so would be very difficult to have just one machine.

The other question is would you be able to move people from business to business that can operate each machine? Really, you'll never get one machine that serves all purposes because smaller places wouldn't be able to justify the same expense as the bigger places.

Audience Member: I own an independent coffee shop in Lincolnshire.  What advice would you give to people looking for replacement coffee machines; should they buy or should they lease?  It is one of the most expensive items for a business... it’s all good having an all singing all dancing machine but if you can't afford it, what's the point?

The answer to your question from what I have seen is that it [a better coffee machine] will have a clear impact on the success of your business, so trying to find the best or most suitable piece of equipment is very important.  In my view, Lease finance does have a clear role to play in that equation because, unless you are unusually cash-rich, if you are a small business you won't have lots of finance available to spend on a coffee machine so you will be limited in what you can justify spending.  Equally the bank is less likely to lend you money as this is capital expenditure.  Lease, or what is sometimes called ‘Asset finance’ is a really good way of bridging that gap and it allows you to put the cost of the coffee machine against your weekly and monthly takings and before tax.

Obviously, you should speak to your accountant before you look at that but from a business finance point of view but it's a clear area where you can bring money into your business in an effective way to help you have better equipment.  In turn, you can produce better coffee and hopefully, attract more and more return customers thus making more profit.


If you have any more questions about the future of espresso machines or want more information on our machines please get in touch!