A software manufacturer with 150 employees recently added a cartridge-based, single-cup unit in a break area that already had a beverage vending machine offering both hot and cold drinks. The single-cup system at this location is a pourover model. As in many locations in Japan, water lines are not available in employee areas. Hence, pourover systems are more common in Japan than in the U.S.
Employees at the software company said they appreciate the free coffee. One employee said she appreciates the unit because she cannot afford to patronize Starbucks on a regular basis.
A stock brokerage company with 150 employees recently installed two cartridge-based, single-cup machines. These machines are also pourover systems. The systems collectively dispense about 600 cups per day.
The location manager noted that despite the fact that the systems offer more variety than other countertop systems, the employees would like even more variety. The most popular flavor is mocha.
A furniture store also recently installed a pourover, cartridge-based single-cup system. The coffee is free to customers, but not to employees, who pay the equivalent of 90 U.S. cents per cup. The location manager said espresso and Italian dark roast are the two most popular flavors.
Big growth seen for cartridge-based single cup units
Cartridge-based systems were not new to this furniture store. The store previously used a dedicated espresso brewer that utilizes an espresso cartridge. The problem with the espresso brewer was that it did not serve regular coffee, nor did it offer anywhere near the product variety. Most notably, that system did not offer hot chocolate or tea.
One advantage that Japanese OCS operators have over their American counterparts is they have a proven operating model to follow: America's. Not many U.S. OCS observers predicted five years ago that cartridge-based, single-cup would lead the OCS industry's growth to the extent that it has.
Keeping an eye on America, Japanese observers see big growth for cartridge-based single-cup in the next five years.