Choosing the Right Drinks Machine for Your Office
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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
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
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
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.
- The approximate number of drinks served per day
- Instant or fresh coffee
- Free vend or coin control
- 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.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-11-22 23:42:20 in Employee Articles