The sector has long left behind an inferior, low-grade cafeteria image, says the coffee business, with gourmet vending up by 27% last year.
Tony Smith, national sales manager – vending, Douwe Egberts Professional, told BeverageDaily.com the vending market has been a focus for the business in recent years – and he expects to see it continue to grow.
Coffee shop culture
The popularity of the high street coffee shops has meant that consumers expect good quality coffee in any setting, Smith said.
“The way the vending industry has grown and evolved in the last 10 years has meant the image of coffee machines with weak coffee in a poor plastic cup is truly a thing of the past,” he said.
“The vending industry as a whole was well aware that such preconceptions did exist; and has worked collaboratively to change this. The result is increasingly positive consumer perceptions of vending.
“There’s been a renewed focus on providing more attractive vending machines, better tasting quality coffee and innovative design features, all of which enhance consumer experience.”
Smith now puts the quality of coffee shops and vended offerings on a par, but says the industry continues to innovate. He is chairman of AVEX 2015, a bi-annual vending conference, which takes place in Manchester on June 30 and July 1 this year.
The event will look at what the vending industry can expect from the future.
“Douwe Egberts Professional was amongst the first to actively promote fresh bean solutions and worked with industry partners to further the potential for pressurised coffee extraction bringing the quality of the coffee in line with that which you would receive from a traditional espresso machine,” said Smith.
“We also introduced in partnership with Huhtamaki [in June 2013] the first double walled vending cup - these same insulated cups are what the consumer expects from a high street coffee shop.
“Moving forward we expect to see the latest retail technology, such as mobile payments, integrated into vending machines.”
He also uses the example of a Douwe Egberts vending machine promotion in South Africa, which used facial recognition software to dispense free coffee to people who yawn (see video below).
“As well as seeing these technological innovations, we would also expect to see the product offering diversify with pre-wrapped pastries and snacks being dispensed alongside hot beverages,” he added.
In January this year, Douwe Egberts Professional entered a partnership with N&W Global Vending and Regency Design for a new self-serve machine, that offers espresso bean coffee, instant, freshly brewed tea and skimmed milk – designed to “eliminate many of the classic issues associated with coffee production.”