When choosing a coffee machine, there are many options for retailers to think about. Size is, of course, an important consideration, but even the smallest store can accommodate a coffee machine on its counter. Consider the space you’re willing to dedicate to a coffee machine and work out what will fit best in that space.
Another important consideration is the coffee company itself. For many customers, the quality of the coffee or the familiarity of the brand will be a big selling point, so retailers should consider whether brand recognition will be a deciding factor. Shisan Patel, from Jasp (Dps) in Birmingham, has two Nescafé machines, which he selected because they fitted the space he had available, but he would recommend retailers go for a Costa machine if their store has the footfall to generate sales.
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“It’s the main brand people recognise,” he says. “It’s a bit of a go-to coffee, to be honest. When we had a Tchibo, people would ask for a Costa rather than a coffee. You have to sell a lot of cups per day with a Costa, so there’s a risk there, but if you’ve got the footfall that you can get from a high-street store, then Costa is number one.”
However, the coffee itself is only one part of the decision-making process. Retailers need to study the fine print of any contract they are thinking of signing. With some retailers stuck paying fees to companies that have since gone bust and thus can’t help with maintenance, and others struggling to sell enough cups per day to meet the minimum requirement, retailers should be careful about what they’re signing.
Gaurave Sood, from Neelam Convenience Store & Post Office in Uxbridge, Middlesex, is considering buying a machine outright this summer so there will be no future costs down the line. “We don’t want to be tied with someone and then get left out in the open,” he says. “Something we’d look at is a My Coffee Station, where there’s no cost incurred for us and it’s all profit shared.”
Hitesh Modi, on the other hand, has gone with Office Station for the coffee machine in his father-in-law’s Londis store in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. They are charged £1.20 for every cup they sell and charge £1.65 themselves. “It means the margin we get is less, but there’s no stress,” he says. “There’s no upfront payment and you only have to pay on what you sell. You get a sense of security that if something goes wrong, it’s covered. They look after the servicing and everything.
“I would recommend that approach, especially with the current market. There are companies that rent the machine and you pay upfront and if they go bust, you still have to pay. Why go for a three-year lease like that if you don’t know what’s going to happen?”
How to maintain your coffee machine
Regardless of the contract or deal that you arrange with your coffee machine supplier, there are still things that you and your team will need to look after yourselves to make sure the equipment functions properly and provides customers with the product they’re after.
Dirty or malfunctioning equipment will not just put customers off, but can bring problems in the long-term, as it may cost you more in repairs if smaller problems aren’t nipped in the bud early.
“Cleanliness is the most essential maintenance issue when it comes to coffee machines,” says Selecta’s Tjerry Sanders. “If a machine gets dirty, it can cause a blockage resulting in poor coffee quality or the machine breaking. It is advised to keep your machine clean and stick to its recommended service intervals.”
Setting out a cleaning rota and instilling the desire to keep the machine clean and in good working order among your staff is essential. Retailers should look at machine maintenance in the same way that they look at keeping the floors clean and the shelves full, and ensure there is training provided for staff.