The modern ritual

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Although coffee drinking has become a part of the lifestyle in Britain, many customers are still hesitant to invest in a coffee maker, confused with the options on offer, their functionality and benefits. Advice of a trusted independent is just what they need – especially in time for a bit of seasonal indulgence, suggests Anna Ryland.

The coffee maker market is ripe for picking. According to a recent survey by Philips, each day, the average Brit sits down to enjoy two cups of coffee at home and has another two to keep them going at work. That’s a total of 24 cups a week or 1,248 each year. The survey also revealed that 51% of the population choose coffee as their favourite hot drink over tea.

To satisfy this thirst for coffee 730 Starbucks and 930 Costa Coffee stores are operating on high streets in Britain.

“The social aspect of meeting up ‘for a coffee’ to catch up with friends is now part of the vernacular and almost a ritual for modern life. Even people who don’t like coffee can join in on the ‘coffee culture’ as it has become synonymous with the sociability of meeting up with friends – for tea or coffee – rather than necessarily the coffee itself,” says Lloyd Cachao, product category manger at Siemens.

Market potential

“The hot beverage makers sector has recently passed through the £50m milestone for the year (Aug ’09-Jul ‘10), becoming the fifth small kitchen appliances market to do so after kettles, irons, toasters and food preparation. This landmark indicates the growing influence of the continental espresso machines combined with a desire to re-create the ‘coffee-house’ culture in our own homes,” explains Andrew Walsh, GfK Retail and Technology account manger.

“The espresso category has grown by 24% in value (Aug ‘08-Jul ‘09 vs. Aug ‘09-Jul ‘10) and accounts for 65% of the total market, contributing over £33.2m to the value of the total market over this period. Other types of coffee makers are also increasing, with the filter coffee segment growing by 3% (Aug ‘08-Jul ‘09 vs. Aug ‘09-Jul ‘10), adding £16.2m (32% share) to the value of the market.”

A 17% increase of an average price of an espresso machine – from £97 to £114 – suggests that customers are trading up to more sophisticated and expensive models.

What customer wants

With many demands on their time, the customers needs a coffee machine which is simple and quick to use and clean, but they don’t want to compromise the quality of their drink. Moreover, “the customer wants a model which is a stylish addition to the kitchen. The coffee machine is not an appliance that is used then stored away in the cupboard, but one that is used frequently throughout the day by family members,” argues Jennifer Riley, marketing manager at Polti UK.

For many consumers milk is an important ingredient of coffee. “They want to be able to create the Costa/Starbucks-style hot and frothy milk,” reminds Jane Lee, BHS category manger. “The Siemens EQ7 will heat up, froth and dispense the correct amount and type of milk for the chosen drink, at the touch of one button.”

These customer expectations defined the direction of technological developments in this product category. “Coffee machines are built upon an understanding of the ‘science of coffee’ where optimum temperatures, pressures and processes are defined to ensure what is deemed to be the ‘perfect’ cup of coffee. Quality machines such as the ones Miele produces are built to exacting standards with precise controls,” says Neil Pooley, Miele group product manger.

Joan Fraser, Smeg’s product development & training manger, agrees: “Many top end machines are now fully automatic and offer the option of personalisation. However the most critical element is the power of the pump; 15 bar pressure is the optimum requirement so homeowners can recreate the perfect coffee within the comfort of their own home.”

What’s on offer

The customers who are at the beginning of their coffee journey may like black coffee from a filter machine, such as Morphy Richards 47078 model which has a programmable timer allowing the user to wake up to a pot of fresh coffee. For a family with diverse tastes, Krups has the XP2070 model which makes both filter and espresso coffee.

Yet, since the main growth is in the espresso category, most product developments take place in this market segment. Mattino Espresso is the latest product from Morphy Richards. The company has launched it with a promotion in partnership with Cravendale milk, considered the barista’s choice of milk, by giving people the chance to win a weekend break or barista training to help hone their coffee making skills.

Krups has a wide offer, including the bean-to-cup model (EA8080) and the recently launched Dolce Gusto Piccolo, which although is a ‘petite’ version of a Dolce Gusto coffee machine, can produce eighteen drinks, including their ‘skinny’ options. Krups Nespresso offers the convenience of a pod but the 19 bar pressure means it delivers great tasting results.

Responding to the demand for smaller appliances, De’Longhi has just introduced the Super Compact coffee machine whose slim design saves valuable space on the worktop. However it has all the elements and high performance of De’Longhi’s full size bean-to-cup coffee machines, such as the patented milk carafe, an adjustable coffee dispenser catering for all cup sizes and an integrated bean grinder with seven adjustable coarseness settings. Another newcomer from De’Longhi is the top of the range bean-to-cup PrimaDonna Avant which also features a self-cleaning function.

The owners of Polti believe that “to produce the perfect espresso we as the manufacturer need to have complete control of all the elements of the process. For this reason Aromapolti grind the coffee, manufacture the pods, and produce all elements of the machine within one factory in Italy, thus controlling all the elements of the process to produce the perfect espresso. Polti’s coffee machines are equipped with the exclusive ‘Crema Express’ patented system to ensure that the coffee extracted from the capsule always has just the right degree of dense creaminess. In designing the @Espresso Suprema we have thought about the complete coffee experience with the gift box that comes with the model containing a milk frothier, samples of a variety of blends of coffee and herbal drinks along with a recipe book,” explains Jennifer Riley, marketing manager at Polti UK.

Philips, which recently acquired the Gaggia brand, has introduced to the market Gaggia Accademia, a premium model for the aspirational home owner. It can memorise favourite coffee and milk preferences so users don’t have to re-programme it each time they use it. With seven beverage choices, the machine is easy to navigate and allows consumers to programme the coffee to their choice.

The latest Siemens freestanding coffee machine is a fully automatic bean-to-cup EQ7 model which incorporates all the achievements of Siemens designers striving to create a perfect cup of coffee. It features Sensio-Flow heating element to keep water at ideal temperature during the brewing process, an Aroma Pressure system to create rich coffee crema, a Silent Cream grinder working at a very low noise level, and a sealed milk container keeping constant temperature. Moreover the machine rinses automatically its milk dispensing mechanism after every cup.

Miele, which introduced the first built-in coffee machine in 1981, has brought out this year the Barista, its first counter-top bean-to-cup coffee appliance. Barista allows users to navigate through water-per-cup programming, selectable coffee strength, four cup sizes and adjustable grind coarseness to deliver a cup of coffee to suit any p
reference or occasion.

Built-in options

Last year Smeg launched its first range of built-in coffee makers. “The 45cm frameless fully automatic coffee machines fit in to a reduced height oven capacity and boast a five level programmable coffee strength. The machines take beans or ground coffee to make a variety of different blends with a coffee function for regular or double coffee; a steam function and frothing nozzle for cappuccinos; and a hot water function for tea or other hot drinks. Available in the Classic and Linea ranges with a stainless steel or black finish, they are very flexible requiring no plumbing in,“ explains Smeg’s Joan Fraser.

Siemens has also added to its collection of integrated cooking appliances a new coffee maker which has a variety of functions expected of a premium model.

Built-in coffee makers require many considerations. “You need to take into account that there is enough space in the kitchen; some models need a dedicated water line for plumbing in (Neff’s model does not need to be plumbed in so is very easy to install), and it is better if the coffee machine matches the finish of the other built-in kitchen appliances, which is why we recommend the same brand for all cooking appliances,” says Mike Jarrett, sales director of Neff.

Selling a lifestyle

The design of coffee makers is an essential ingredient of their appeal. Proudly displayed on the kitchen counter they are a symbol of a lifestyle that their owners wish to communicate to people around them.

“A lot of designs continue to follow an Italian feel, based on the historic Italian ties to coffee drinking. New products will try to utilise different shapes but the guts of an espresso will restrict what can be done to some extent,” says Daniel Reeves, category consumer manager at Morphy Richards.

“The built-in category has its own design considerations. “At the higher end of the market in which Siemens operates, the features of the machine, the professional finish and the build quality are the most important factors. The design is more about lighting and chrome, elegance and technology than price. It is also important that the machine matches other built-in appliances installed nearby so branding is key,” explains Lloyd Cachao, product category manager for coffee at Siemens.

Your role

Coffee makers are slowly becoming a ‘must have’ product with a great sell up potential, as customers move up their ‘coffee journey’.

What holds some of them back is lack of understanding of features such as bar pressure and a perception that coffee machines are difficult to operate and clean. They need hand holding – and that’s the role for an independent. Yet, the pickings are rich – some models cost over £1,000, while the average price of a branded espresso machine is around £200.

Become a coffee (and coffee machine) expert and start selling these aspirational products – especially before Christmas when a bit of indulgence is expected. First of all, treat your customers to a steaming cup of coffee from a working machine on display and let its bewitching aroma facilitate the selling process.

A great choice

FILTER COFFEE MACHINES are very easy to use. Hot water drips slowly through a basket of ground coffee to infuse in a pot or carafe. Filter coffee machines usually have thermos pots and hot plates to keep the coffee warm. Models have either permanent or paper filters. Some models use coffee pods.

PERCOLATORS work the other way around. Ground coffee is put into a holder at the top, water in the bottom. Once boiled, the water is forced up a vertical tube and through the filter, with the brewed coffee settling in the bottom of the jug, percolators are ideal for those who want to vary the strength of their filter coffee.

ESPRESSO. Espresso coffee is much richer and more concentrated than filter coffee and is the base for a cappuccino or latte. There are two basic types of machines, with pump machines being more expensive.

Pressure machines. Water is boiled in a chamber and this builds pressure and steam. Eventually enough pressure is built up and forces the boiling water through to the coffee. The steam can be used for frothing.

Pump machines have a separate tank and a thermostatically-controlled boiler with a ‘Thermoblock’ system that heats up the water to between 85-92°C – the optimum temperature for making coffee. The water is then sent through the coffee holder at the correct bar pressure. Some machines also use a pod system, including the increasingly popular Nespresso method.

Nespresso is a ‘pod’ system that produces espresso coffee. The coffee is blended, roasted, ground, and then hermetically sealed in capsules which stay fresh for up to 9 months. The advantages of this system is its simplicity and always perfect result. The downside is that the user is tied to the supplier’s range of coffees, which are available by mail order or online.


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