Top 10 things to look for when choosing a coffee vending machine


In our many years of experience people choose a coffee vending machine for one of two reasons:
  • to make a profit from selling coffee and hot drinks
  • to provide good coffee and hot drinks cost effectively for their staff, customers, students and visitors

Here is a guide as to the Top 10 things to look for whether you are charging for your coffee or free-vending:

  • 1.     Great tasting coffee
Without doubt the number one most important is taste.  In recent years, consumers have come to expect real coffee.  Long gone are the days when instant coffee in a plastic cup was acceptable. Seeing the coffee beans being ground fresh for each cup gives the reassurance to the customer that they are getting real coffee.  Great tasting real bean coffee is what consumers will keep returning to buy from you which is what returns you a profit. 

Even if you are free vending, your staff and visitors will appreciate the taste and in turn feel appreciated by the company or organisation.   Remember that today real coffee vending can be very cost effective.

  • 2.     Wide variety of hot drinks
Everyone likes to have a choice of hot drinks to chose from.  So let your customers choose their favourite way of drinking coffee whether that is espresso, cappuccino, latte, flat white or black.  If you can also offer a quality hot chocolate and boiling water for tea then you’ve covered everyone’s needs.

  • 3.     Can it serve drinks quick enough to meet peak demand?
Your coffee vending machine must be able to handle the busy periods with ease.   Is it lunch time in your sandwich bar or break time in your school or college?  Whilst it will naturally take a few seconds to grind and correctly brew the coffee beans, it should take no more than 25-30 seconds for each cup.  Choose a machine that can serve up to 30, 70, 130 or even 200 cups per hour depending on you needs.

  • 4.     Cost effectiveness
Whether you are looking to make a profit from selling coffee or to free vend, either way it must be cost effective.  You may be surprised that serving real bean coffee or gourmet hot chocolate can cost you as little as a few pence per cup.  Whilst it may cost a little more than instant coffee, you can charge significantly more for real coffee (with profit of £1 - £1.50 per cup).

  • 5.     Automated to use
Using an automatic coffee machine should be intuitive and quick:
    • place a cup under the drink spout
    • press one button to select the chosen hot drink
    • serve
This frees your staff to prepare the food or take payment whist the machine is making the coffee.  Likewise, self-service by customers should be so simple that they never need to ask for help from your staff.

  • 6.     Simple to clean and maintain?
Coffee machines that have complex cleaning procedures and lengthy start up times whilst the milk is heated have cost implications for staff time and the downtime whilst they are not serving drinks.   Go for a machine that requires just a daily top up of coffee, chocolate and milk and then simple weekly cleaning procedure.

  • 7.     Does it have to be sited next to a water pipe?
The location of a coffee vending machine is important and can be tricky.  Normally, it will be plumbed into a fresh water supply.  However, if this is not possible or convenient then a machine that has the option of its own water container is ideal.   This means that it can be sited just about anywhere within reach of a normal mains electricity socket (or car battery if you want to be really mobile).

  • 8.     Coin-operation option
If you want to charge for the drinks and have self-service then the option of a reliable coin slot is what you need.

  • 9.     Trusted brand and stylish looks
Users trust brands from Starbucks to Bacardi because they deliver the quality they expect every time.  So, when you are choosing a coffee vending machine, choose one from an established, worldwide brand that will be trusted and enjoyed by your customers.  Likewise, why choose a bland machine when you can get beautifully styled machines for not much more that are made from brushed and polished stainless steel that adds to your customers’ experience.

  • 10.     Can it be leased?
Normally a coffee vending machine is leased as this is usually the most cost effective way of spreading the cost over 1 – 5 years.  Additionally the lease cost may be offset against corporation tax.  Choose a vending machine supplier that has relationships with major industry leasing companies to ensure that they are able to obtain the most cost effective lease for your business.

Find out more about Espresso Essential's range of profitable coffee vending machines