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Choosing the Right Drinks Machine for Your Office

Office coffee machines come in such an enormous variety these days that choosing the right one for your office can be a real headache. Do you go for fresh coffee or instant drinks, fully automatic or self serve, coin operated, or free vend? And what about cold drinks, do you stick with the water cooler or go for can vending systems or syrup based machines? Choosing an office coffee machine is not like choosing a photocopier. Drinks machines need daily care and sanitising by a designated member of staff and regular servicing by professional engineers. The ingredients will need to be topped up daily, cash collected and accounted for and supplies ordered well in advance. Your choice should initially be governed by the number of staff you wish to serve with the machine, taking into account extra drinks required by visitors and customers. A general rule of thumb is to assume 3 hot drinks per day per office worker if he has to pay for the drinks himself (coin-controlled) or double that if you intend to have the machine on free-vend! If fact, there are now hybrid type machines that allow you to offer staff so many free drinks per day and over and above that they have to pay but that is best left to the discussion with the salesman from the drinks company.

Once you have a ball park figure for the number of drinks required per day, the next thing to decide is whether to go for fresh tea and coffee or instant drinks. Machines serving instant coffee, tea and chocolate drinks are the cheapest to buy, service and maintain as well as having a lower cost per cup for each drink served. The fresh-brew option gives superb tasting drinks but generally need much more in the way of servicing and day to day care. With the latter option a member of staff can be trained to look after the basic maintenance duties of the machine but it is likely to take perhaps up to an hour a day of their time. The next thing to decide is whether to go free vend or have staff and visitors pay for their drinks. Free vend is a great perk to give your staff and visitors but obviously comes with considerable cost, although you may find better productivity because of it especially as it avoids time waiting for kettles to boil, brewers to finish etc that might otherwise be the case.

With coin controlled versions you can set the vend price to cover the cost of the machine, maintenance and ingredients to break even or maybe make a profit. (Make sure you account for VAT or sales tax on the selling price of the drinks as many companies forget to do this). Most models of drinks machines have a management switch to toggle between free vend and coin controlled supply - this is a useful feature and many companies are choosing to switch over to free vend for the early starters and after hour workers, but have standard coin control during normal hours thereby rewarding the more dedicated and punctual staff. Perhaps the final thing to consider before calling the drinks company is the position of the machine. This will of course depend upon the layout of your office. Do you want one main central position where all the drinks are served from a larger machine, or perhaps have two or three smaller machines in more convenient locations? Many companies are choosing the latter more informal approach, perhaps having several pour over type fresh coffee machines together with water coolers.

Again this has pros and cons - Many drinks companies will provide free loan coffee brewers so long as you buy the coffee from them so this can be a cheap option, but this is balanced by the restricted drinks available and the potential for pilferage. In summary there is a great deal of choice available for your choice of office drinks machine. However it is best to consider four main things before calling the company. 1/ The approximate number of drinks served per day 2/ Instant or fresh coffee 3/ Free vend or coin control 4/ Position and access to the machine. With these things decided upon you will be in a much better position when you start asking for quotations from your local drinks machine supplier.

For more information about coffee and coffee making equipment visit http://www.cafebar.co.uk


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