Isn't it time to reconsider hot beverage vending?

March 8, 2011

Hot beverage machines, like food machines, have taken a beating over the years as the nation’s work force has moved out of large blue collar job sites into smaller, more white collar work places.

In many locations, operators have replaced hot drink machines with OCS. The economics clearly favor this approach. OCS is a more profitable business than vending. Hot beverage machines in particular are among the most labor intensive machines, and the return on investment is long.

But is this a market-based approach? Are operators serving the customers’ needs in the best possible manner?

Consider the customer

Consumers today want good quality coffee at an affordable price. Location managers want to provide good coffee to keep their employees and customers satisfied. Account managers also are looking for ways to reduce costs, and coffee prices are rising.

As coffee prices rise, operators have to continuously offer more options to allow location managers to have good coffee but stay within their budgets. It’s all part of the operator’s job. But hasn’t the time come to reconsider the hot drink vending machine?

Today’s hot beverage machines have dual bean grinders that can provide fresh-ground coffee. They can program gram throws and steep timing with great accuracy. There is a bigger variety of product available than ever, including flavored coffee, specialty blends and hot chocolate.

As the story on page 18 points out, machines promoting premium brands are available with highly enticing graphics.

The value proposition

The value proposition to the customer makes sense for hot drink vending. Today’s hot beverage machines can offer a premium cup of coffee that rivals anything sold in a coffee house – in a convenient setting – at a highly competitive price.

Isn’t this what today’s coffee consumer – with his love of quality coffee battling his formidable budget woes – looking for?

The big locations that can support hot beverage machines are scarcer than ever. But take a close look around you and consider all the large office lobbies, hotels, shopping malls and office parks with high foot traffic. '

Andrew Davis, a Dallas vending operator, didn’t think much about hot beverage vending until he was forced to consider an alternative to OCS at a 15-story office building, as explained on page 20. The hot beverage vending machine was just the solution. The customers love the coffee and the value, and now the account is more profitable than ever.

How many other opportunities are waiting for operators to open their minds to hot beverage vending? Are we really doing everything we can to serve the customer’s needs when it comes to coffee?