Filterfresh, To Merge With Aramark, Played A Big Role In OCS Professionalism

Mondays news that Aramark Refreshment Services will acquire Filterfresh from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. came as a let down to many in the refreshment services business. Ever since Green Mountain announced plans late last year to divest Filterfresh after acquiring its parent company, Van Houtte, many felt the industrys best interest would be served if an outside company acquired Filterfresh and sustained it as an independent OCS company.The rationale being that the more players there are, the higher the bar for professionalism.Given the ongoing growth of OCS companies nationwide, its a good bet the bar of excellence will remain high. And in large measure, because of Filterfresh.Filterfresh played an important role in developing what was once a basic and undeveloped industry into one that commands admiration among the public. So much that even in the face of a brutal recession, employers hold OCS in high regard. Filterfresh played a key role in the development of the single-cup coffee brewer, the OCS industrys most important tool.In the 1970s, OCS was in its early development. Most operators provided automatic drip coffeemakers.Single-cup brewers were established in Europe. While many U.S. OCS operators recognized the superior quality these systems provided, they didnt think the U.S. consumer was sophisticated enough to appreciate it, let alone pay the higher cost.When Alan King first tried to sell single-cup brewers to OCS operators in the U.S. in the 1970s, he met a cold reception. OCS operators could not fathom a machine that cost five times more than the coffeemakers they were using.But King had a vision, and he would not be discouraged. He knew the single-cup machine provided a better product and would create happier customers.Instead of talking with people who wouldnt listen to him, he put together a franchise opportunity for entrepreneurs.Many refreshment service operators have a negative view of business opportunity offerings, and for good reason. But Alan King was for real.King was able to attract entrepreneurs, most of whom were outside the OCS industry, who recognized the benefits single-cup coffee provides.Kings organization provided technical support and a marketing plan focusing on the types of accounts that would benefit from single-cup machines.Over time, Filterfresh became a major player in most metropolitan markets with large offices.The competition Filterfresh brought opened OCS operators minds to single cup. It wasnt long before alternative single-cup systems began popping up at trade shows.From this race evolved a host of single-cup systems, including the brew-by-pack systems that dominate the market today.Filterfresh reminded the OCS industry that its mission was to provide the best possible service to the customer. For that, the OCS industry is in debt.