Office coffee service is only getting stronger. Coffee prices are low, demands for service are high and across the country OCS providers are focused on what's coming in the next year. VendingMarketWatch.com caught up with Scott Unter, president of BrewSmart Beverage, an office coffee service powerhouse in the Chicago, IL area, to find out just what is on his mind for 2019.
Q: What are you focusing on next year?
A: Everything! All aspects of the the industry/business are hot right now. We are seeing extensive growth in office coffee, cold brew on draft, water filtration, ice makers, micro markets, pantry service -- you name it. The industry goes in waves off of what is trending and in total it is the entire industry which is great for us. We are seeing massive growth in Chicago (headquarters) but also we are also seeing growth in our other territories, Austin, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Jacksonville.
Q: Is there a trend that is diminishing, and what is taking its place?
A: K-cups. They have over taken the market. It is to hard keep up with all of the brands that are still coming to market while being competitive with the online retailers and big box stores. As companies try to turn towards less waste and be more green in their approach, K-cups have not kept up. Bean-to-cup machines are overall a nicer looking brewer, produce a much higher quality cup of coffee and are now coming at a more competitive price point (i.e. Bravilor Sego $1,800 estimated). Not to mention that we are able to use a wider variety of coffees from large national roasters to the local craft roasters in bean-to-cup brewers.
Q: What is the most pressing issue for OCS providers in the current marketplace?
A: As an industry we are too focused on our old competition (i.e. other coffee/ vending services in our territories). We need to be focused on the new wave of competition. Not just the 800-pound gorilla in the room known as Amazon but all web/ DSD distributors. Anyone can ship a box of product but can anyone fix a brewer or replace a compressor on a soda machine? The answer...No! We need to be a stronger industry and work together much more. We offer services which the big box stores and online retailers do not and need to be revered for those services not punished by having to be compared (on product prices) to them. I love our industry, I was born into it. If we don't work together we will all pay a price.