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Complete Guide To Vending Machines (hot drinks)


With so many different vending machines out there it can be hard to determine what’s good for you and your business needs. There is no point in buying or renting machines which do not fit the purpose of your workplace. From drinks vending to food and snacks, it’s important to get the right products of the right size for your company. Here’s a guide to the main hot drinks machines which we hope will help you make the right decision when it comes to picking the best vending machine for you and your business.

Drinks vending

Deciding on what equipment you will need depends on the number of people you are trying to cater for. Sites with staff of 25 or less will need different vending equipment to say those that service upwards of a hundred or more.

Let’s begin with the smallest type of machine, these are known at table tops as they can sit on a work surface or similar flat and stable surface. Types of table tops include the classic coffee machine, in cup machine, sachet, pod or closed system machines. Others include manual machines and semi-automatics.

However, there has been a change in demand in recent years with manufacturers producing more and more table top machines to keep up with the increasing interest of small businesses wishing to invest in this style of drinks machine. Advances in technology has meant that more value for money machines have been made by vending machine companies which often make good financial sense for small businesses. Let’s take a look at the varying styles of these table top machines and the pros and cons of each.

Coffee machines

The smallest is known as the filter coffee dispenser. This is a simple machine that many of us will be familiar with. Ground coffee is placed into a paper filter and hot water is passed through it and collected in a large glass heat resistant jug. This jug sits on a heated plate. There are various different types of machine based on this system some larger, some smaller but in essence all are the same in that coffee is made fast and is in relatively small quantities. The amount produced is somewhere in the region of between half a dozen and a dozen cups at a time. This system is great if the coffee is drunk quickly but if left to stand the quality of the drink is compromised as it deteriorates quickly. This can lead to a great deal of waste and with it the additional cost of throwing coffee needlessly away.

You can hire these types of machines often on a free loan basis but be aware you will be paying a premium for your coffee as the supplier has to be making money somewhere along the line. Here are some of the pros and cons of these machines:

Pros include:

High quality coffee
Easy usage
Inexpensive base units

Cons include:

Needs to be drunk quickly
High cost of coffee
Milk and sugar add additional costs.

In Cup machines

In cup machines are those drinks machines which produce pre-packed ingredients such as tea and coffee or soup which are then dispensed by pressing a button.

They can be quickly filled but often the drink quality can be poor. Tea bags are often attached to in cup machines which means users are often looking for somewhere to dump the bag. This can often lead to a grubby area around the vending machine which warrants increased cleaning and maintenance. Also you have to buy cases of individual drinks for example decaffeinated or white coffee buying mixed cases can sometimes be done but at great cost.

Storage can also sometimes be an issue as for instance a dozen selection machine will mean you will have to store up to a dozen different boxes of drinks which may not be an issue if you have plenty of space but use by dates can also make this type of machine a tricky choice.

These types of machines can be great for companies with high staff numbers as sometimes in cup machines can be on loan for free but the drinks themselves are not as cheap as you might think. Pros and cons of in cup machines include:

Pros

Machines easy to use and fill
Easy to clean
Disposable cups

Cons

Limited drinks options
Expensive drinks
Plastic cups for employees and guests alike

Closed Ingredient machines

This term refers to machines which rely on a system to deliver a drink. Once you have bought the machine you have only one source of ingredients available. For example, a pod or cartridge containing one type of brand of coffee would be used. If you run out of the products you have to use only their branded goods or the machine will not work.

Machines of this type include cartridges which contain a drink which is attached to a dispenser. The cartridges or pods slot into the machine. The good news is the ingredients for these types of devices are small and therefore take up minimal space. These types of machines were hugely popular at one point but now the interest seems to be waning. There are benefits and negatives associated with these types of machines:

Pros include:

Easy usage
Minimal maintenance
Inexpensive

Cons include:

Locked into one supplier
Costs are out of your hands
Drink quality is at best average

Other Closed Ingredient machines

Whereas once you were limited by the quality of in cup machines closed ingredient systems which use special pods can be great. Drinks are provided in pods which are put into the machine and water flows through the drink. Although more expensive than in cup machines there is minimal waste and the quality of the drink is much higher.

Companies that have filter coffee machines sometimes upgrade to these machines as the coffee needn’t be thrown away if it isn’t immediately consumed. However, it is considerably more expensive and if you are not charging for drinks this will need to be factored in to any decision made.

Machines need to either be plumbed in or filled using a tank, so they are good for meeting rooms or similar environments. However, you need a receptacle to get rid of the pods. There are as with all machines pros and cons.

Pros include:

High quality of drink used
Easy useage
Low maintenance

Cons include:

High cost of product
Milk and sugar need to be supplied separately
Can be untid

There are other similar machines on the market these include machines which have pods only or sachets. All of these machines are variations on a theme so it is worth thinking fully about the exact needs of your business so that you can assess what size, price and quality of product you require.

Bean to cup machines

These are machines which are often used by bars, cafes and restaurants as they need no plumbing and can be a stylish asset to a business. The workings are quite simple as beans are inserted into the machine which are then ground  up. Water is passed through the ground beans before being deposited into a cup. The quality of the drink is high and is not restricted to just coffee. Hot water facilities are integrated into the machine which means tea and hot chocolate can also be made. The added extra of a built in milk frother makes this machine an often popular vending choice.

This type of machine is a great option for those fed up of throwing away jugs of unused coffee. There are many pros to this machine as well as a few cons as highlighted below.

Pros include:

High quality drinks
Inexpensive
Keeps fresh

Cons include:

Cannot be plumbed in
Milk and sugar added separately
Regular cleaning