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What to Consider when Buying a Office Coffee Machine

When looking to buy a coffee machine for your workplace, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different options to choose from. First of all, there are so many varieties of coffee these days and different people prefer different types – from traditional blends of filtered hot coffee, to seasonal blends, to espresso, to iced coffee. And don’t forget about the non-coffee drinkers, who you surely want to accommodate, too!

Secondly, it seems like coffee service suppliers are offering more and more types of coffee machines. While most people used to prefer filtered coffee brewed with a regular old drip-pot, now when people ask for coffee, they’re asking for more gourmet-prepared drinks. In fact, around 60% (according to the IBIS World Report) of all coffee ordered by Americans is now considered “gourmet” or “specialty.” Experiment for yourself: ask a handful of co-workers what’s their coffee drink of choice, and note the variety of responses you get!

Additionally, a recent National Coffee Association study shows that under 50% of people who have a “workplace coffee area” are unsatisfied with their selections.

To make sure you’re making the wisest decision, here are the top items to consider when buying a coffee machine for your work space:

1. Volume/Output

So you’re probably wondering, how can I please everyone? Well, we’ve simplified this process for you by breaking it down to 5 main considerations to help you make the smartest decision on a coffee machine for your workplace:

  • How big is your company?
  • How many employees typically consume beverages regularly? 
  • About how many cups does each person consume a day?

These three questions will help you discover your “cup per day” ratio (where one cup is equal to 8 oz.). Remember that most likely, not all of your employees are going to be coffee drinkers, and each coffee drinker consumes a different amount daily. However, this ratio is a lot easier to figure out than it may seem! You can easily survey your workplace and ask employees their average amount of coffee consumed daily (estimates are fine), then tally up the number. 

As far as machines go, there are typically three output levels – low, medium, and high.

  • Low volume machines – produce 50 cups per day
  • Medium volume machines – 150-200 cups per day
  • High volume machines – 200-500 cups per day

For some larger companies, it’s not unusual to go through a comparable amount of coffee as a coffee shop, daily. In that case, it probably makes sense to go with a high end/industrial coffee maker as a longer term investment. For small companies with moderate coffee drinkers, a low volume machine will do just fine.

2. Cost 

Every business has a budget when shopping for a new product, but even if you’re concerned about price and have a strict budget, you want to see your coffee machine as an investment. Firstly, finding a machine that’s good quality and a good fit for your company will prevent you from having to dish out more money to replace it in the short-term. Secondly, remember that your employee’s satisfaction, productivity, and community is worth investing in, since coffee is usually a pivotal part of any workplace!

Your coffee investment should include more factors than just the machine. Think about the ongoing cost of coffee and coffee supplies (such as cups, milk and creamer, and stirrers), and maintenance costs. So you can break your budgeting down to two factors – start-up costs (ie. the price of the machine and any installment you’ll need) and ongoing costs (payment for the products, service, and delivery). 

Normally, there are several machines that fall into the green zone of your overall budget. After you narrow it down to there, you’ll want to choose your highest priorities – from more options, to quickness, to quality, and more. For instance, a traditional filtered drip-pot will be your most cost effective option and can yield high-quality coffee, but options limited to ground coffee – whereas other machines provide more options.

Many workplaces opt to save money by renting a higher-end machine and paying for it incrementally over several months. This can be a good fit for you if you know you want to provide many options to your employees at a high level of convenience, you might be expanding or expecting a higher budget down the road, or perhaps switching locations in the near future. In these cases, renting will buy you time to figure it out.

3. Machine Options and Quality

As we mentioned above, there are many different coffee machines to choose from these days. Let’s walk through them:

Once you get to the step of choosing the machine, the two big considerations are quality of coffee and convenience/quickness. Which is more important to you?

The reason for choosing one over the other is that many believe traditional machines – although usually slower to brew – produce higher quality coffee that tastes better than coffee produced by automated machines. For some people, the time is worth the coffee. You don’t want your coffee to go wasted if the quality isn’t up to their standards. For others, quickness is key! Machines that take their “sweet time” to brew can frustrate employees that need to get back to work.

At the same time, some people prefer the abundant options automated machines can provide over the “quality” coffee produced by a traditional machine. Automated machines can usually produce a wide variety of drinks – and not only coffee – at the touch of a button. For some, quality IS convenience, or in other words, more options to choose from. It’s all a matter of your employees’ preferences. 

4. Convenience

Though we touched on it already, the “convenience factor” of a coffee machine is a big “must-have” for many businesses, so let’s discuss it further.

There are several questions to ask here to make sure the machine you’re investing in fulfills your workplace’s convenience expectations.

  1. Are you concerned about not being able to brew multiple cups at the same time?
  2. When are the times with the highest volume coffee traffic? Do your employees mind waiting, or will this impact workflow?
  3. How big is your workplace? Is having a small pot on one side of the office realistic for everyone?
  4. How long does the machine take to prep and brew coffee?
  5. Is the machine overly complicated to use, and will there be a learning curve to operate?

These questions may not raise any concerns for your work ecosystem, but it’s worth it to address them before buying to make sure everyone is happy and all is running smoothly!

5.  Maintenance 

Even though it’s not the fun part of owning a coffee machine, maintenance should be factored in when buying as well. Sometimes, higher end machines require additional or professional routinely maintenance. Even with a traditional coffee machine, remember you still need to figure out how it needs to be cleaned, for how long, and how often. For example, one business professional over at Robinpowered reported after buying a bean-to-cup coffee machine and using it for some time, that “our existing machine’s biggest headache was that every dozen cups or so, you had to refill the water tank and clean the grounds out.” If you work in an office, you know than a dozen cups goes by very fast, and performing maintenance this often can waste a lot of time. This wasn’t something they had anticipated when buying it in the first place!

If you foresee maintenance upkeep being an issue, you might opt for something maintenance-friendly or look for coffee maintenance servicing options. For example, if you choose a single-serve pod machine or options with a water line that can be attached, you don’t have to spend time cleaning grounds or replacing a water tank. Additionally, if you choose to rent, there are often options for scheduled maintenance included in your monthly payments.

Even if you don’t lock in an ongoing maintenance agreement with your coffee supplier, you can still look for a warranty with your machine so that at the very least, if you experience a problem with the machine within the warranty length, the supplier will repair it for you. Even if you don’t mind doing basic upkeep with the machine on your own, you won’t have to worry about being out of pocket if the machine experiences a serious issue.

Remember that a coffee delivery service goes hand in hand with purchasing a coffee machine, as a majority of businesses today opt for scheduled deliveries based on the approximate amount of coffee their office consumes on a monthly basis. Luckily, coffee suppliers can usually provide you with both a machine and ongoing service! If you have follow-up questions about purchasing a commercial coffee machine, our dedicated, expert suppliers work hard to make sure all your questions are answered before you make your final decision. Get started by comparing your options with us – its 100% free, with zero risks or obligations.

Remember that for the best buying experience possible, we recommend comparing just 3-5 different suppliers and what they have to offer (don’t over-complicate the decision by comparing too many options!) and prepare for your call with these tips to get the most out of your phone call with each supplier.

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