At the recent 2023 NAMA Show, panelists in the education sessions discuss new innovations in office coffee service equipment and solutions to drive people back to the office.
Note: This article is part of a series from Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com that recaps some of the sessions from the 2023 NAMA Show.
Session: Understanding the Functionality and Purpose of Future Breakrooms
As a global workplace expert for Jones Lang LaSalle, Kristine Cotton was clearly pleased to see the innovative thinking offered by her co-panelists, Matt Fonte, CEO and founder of ColdSnap, Sean Gundy, co-founder and CEO of Bevi, and Paul Toscano, director, strategic accounts, Aramark/Joyride Coffee.
ColdSnap is a new technology that freezes single servings of ice creams, coffee lattes, smoothies, protein shakes and cocktails on demand using shelf-stable pods filled with premium liquid ingredients. No cleaning of the machine is required. ColdSnap is planning to launch in late 2023.
Bevi’s cold drink machine is a popular sustainable solution. Launched in 2015, Bevi now serves over 5,000 corporate clients and continues to innovate with new product selections.
The Joyride by Aramark program serves many notable locations across the county.
Seeking a commute-worthy office
“We want to drive people back to the office with functional locations, desirable locations and variable locations,” said Kristine Cotton, global work experience lead at Jones Lang LaSalle. “The built space has to function in multiple ways now.” Cotton added that ColdSnap and Bevi are offering exactly what her company wants to see in breakrooms, both in offices and manufacturing facilities, where the challenge is employee retention and recruitment.
Looking for the wow factor
“The customer and the employees are looking for high-quality products, functional equipment that needs to be working consistently and they are looking for something that is ‘wow,’ something that is cool and something they want to be around,” Cotton explained.
“The workspace needs to accomplish different things at different times of the day,” she added. “Vendors need to match the outcomes, which can differ as the day goes on – as a breakfast space, as a social connection space and a networking space, as a happy hour space.”
Data is critical
Cotton said that data has become increasingly important in determining the performance of breakroom areas. “We need to capture data relating to usage, because we are making decisions based on how many people are visiting these spaces, plus we need to evaluate the value of the equipment that we are bringing to the office. Is it helping with recruitment of top talent? Is it helping them retain employees?” she asked. Cotton added that when it is time to cut budgets, data that validates equipment usage can help keep a piece of equipment from being removed from the location.
Away from home must be better
Paul Toscano said that employees, working at home during the pandemic, got to make all their coffee choices for themselves, often making high-end selections. “Now, they come back to the office and might not have the same experience that they enjoyed at home,” Toscano said, which adds value to the strength of Bevi and ColdSnap, since it is not something they can enjoy at home.
The importance of sustainability
“Sustainability must be top of mind,” Cotton said. “A lot of our offices are going plastic-free. So many of them have already eliminated plastic bottles. You'll see the bottlers starting to come out with different types of packaging. Our huge focus right now is meeting our company sustainability goals, including reduction of plastics. And we will be driving that hard in the next year.”
Gundy spoke about the increasing interest of customers to enjoy their own personalized beverages. He said that customization of Bevi selections, a popular feature, came about rather naturally, because end users have different preferences, which can easily be accommodated by a point-of-use machine like Bevi, as opposed to a bottling plant that is miles away.
Session: Innovation in Single Serve Coffee
In this session, panelists discuss single-serve coffee innovations in the workplace.
“Single serve coffee is the largest part of the retail category, and it is the fastest growing,” said Marie Franklin, Specialty Coffee Strategist. “It has overtaken whole bean and ground coffee. Interest in single-serve coffee has paved the way for innovators.”
Single serve in the workplace
Maria Cleaveland, North American sales director for Urnex Brands, added: “Single serve has overtaken drip in the workplace. Less and less offices have traditional batch brewing, which is trending ahead of retail. There is more variety in the office in terms of brewing methods. Overall consumption hasn’t changed, people are still drinking plenty of coffee, but they want bean-to-cup, they want instant, they want espresso, they want options.”
With the interest in multiple options, bean-to-cup is expanding to multiple hoppers, multiple soluble products – even more drink options, noted Franklin.
What employers want
Mickey Du, CEO of Brewbird, shared insights on what his clients are asking for. “When COVID happened, everyone started working from home, and coffee got thrown for a loop. As they tried to reopen safely, they found that they could not reopen to the same workplace reality that existed before COVID,” said Du. “The employees, the coffee drinkers, were now demanding convenience, sustainability and quality in one package. That's what we have seen strongly in the last six to nine months.”
The panel also agreed that freshness, locally roasted coffee and selection have all emerged as employer priorities.
The future of batch brewing – drip coffee
The consensus of the panel was that drip coffee will not die, that technology will elevate it. For example, bean-to-batch coffee is coming, giving end users the option to brew by the cup or by the pot, using whole bean.
The quality gap
According to Du, quality is a big issue – there is a gap in coffee drinkers and consumer expectations. “We are seeing this gap becoming increasingly larger, which is an opportunity for operators. Single serve is the format of choice. It is a one-click coffee experience that everyone loves.”
The entire panel agreed that sustainability was a major issue when it comes to single-serve coffee. “Single serve is inherently wasteful,” said Franklin. “We are trying to solve that, but we are competing with ourselves a bit. Consumers want single serve, and we need to offer it, so the sustainability part is challenging.”
Anne Djerai, CEO, Metropolis Coffee Company, added, “I agree with the wastefulness of single serve. It is a problem that is not going away, but we need to innovate ourselves out of it.”
One relevant aspect of the topic was stated in the session summary – Why should you evolve your single serve offerings? The reasons provided were:
- Differentiation: Your clients expect you to be coffee experts and bring innovative solutions.
- Deepen engagement: Coffee has always been a unifier and contributes to productivity and collaboration.
- Revenue opportunities: More craft options onsite mean fewer dollars spent on the outside.
- For roasters: Many trends are built in the modern workplace. That environment can be a great entry to your brand.
- Brand alignment: No matter where you are in this chain, you deepen commitment to your brand by partnering with companies who match your values.
Check out Automatic Merchandiser’s Vending & OCS Nation podcast, hosted by Bob Tullio, to listen to comments on the education sessions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically.
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