A perfect cup at home

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The coffee machine which has gained a central place in the kitchen has excellent sales potential – particularly ahead of the Christmas season, advises Anna Ryland.

Coffee drinking has become an integral part of the lifestyle in Britain – “from socialising with friends to a quick coffee on the commute to work. Great tasting coffee can be bought on every high street corner in chains such as Starbucks and Costa. This has created a market for bean to cup coffee machines in the home, rather than the traditional filter coffee that once sufficed,” comments Richard Treffler, kitchen product manager at Miele.

A survey conducted by Philips in 2011 showed that the average Brit has two cups of coffee at home and another two while working and travelling. The survey also revealed that 51% of the population prefer coffee over tea as their favourite drink.

Helen Weir Willats, brand manager, De’Longhi UK, attributes the popularity of coffee drinking in Britain to three factors: the rising costs of living, a growing number of coffee connoisseurs and expectations of convenience. “Home entertaining has seen a rise as consumers stay in to save money and as a result, after-dinner coffee has increased in popularity. This trend can also be seen with morning coffees where consumers are preparing their coffee at home and taking it with them on their journey to work.” Increasingly well travelled customers are more knowledgeable about the varieties of coffee and the diversity of drinks which can be created with it.

Market expansion

“Espresso machines are the clear winners in the hot beverage makers category that grew by 9% in volume and nearly 22% in value during the 12 months to July 2012, compared to the previous 12 months,” explains Helen Warner, GfK accounts executive, small domestic appliances. “Having grown by over 35% in volume and value, espresso machines continue to find favour with consumers over the more traditional filter coffee machines. The increase in the number of espresso makers has been driven by sales of the more premium on-demand and bean-to-cup machines. This has pushed up the average selling price from £76 to £85.”

Product options

There are four main types of coffee makers on the market that produce differently tasting drinks.

The most traditional are filter coffee machines that are easiest to use. Hot water drips slowly through a basket of ground coffee to infuse in a pot or carafe.

In percolators 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.

Coffee from espresso machines is more concentrated and is the base of a cappuccino or latte. There are two basic types of machines, with pump machines being more expensive. In 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.

Espresso 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.

Nespresso is a ‘pod’ system that produces espresso coffee. The coffee is blended, roasted, grounded, and then hermetically sealed in capsules. 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.

Built-in coffee machines range from bean-to-cup models, pod systems to fully automated models with options personalising the characteristics of users’ favourite drinks.

Customers expect a coffee machine at home to produce similar (if not the same) results as the espresseria at Costa Coffee or Starbucks – but without fuss.  Miele’s Richard Treffler sums up the desired attributes of a modern coffee machine:

•             it dispenses the perfect tasting coffee in a warm cup,

•             produces no-fuss rich, creamy frothy milk without any user intervention,

•             is equipped in effortless controls,

•             it’s simple to maintain and clean,

•             creates a statement in the kitchen.

Lauren Abbott, Gorenje’s marketing manager, adds: “The consumer wants to be able to create a variety of different strengths of coffee, as simply as possible, making a selection of pre-programmed settings of real use. A good cleaning solution is also a must – the use of hot milk can be messy, and an automatic cleaning programme will ensure minimal consumer effort.” 

In case of integrated models the issue of installation – whether plumbing is available or not is also an important consideration.

Product developments

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of coffee drinking in Britain, the leading manufacturers of domestic appliances are entering this category with specialized product propositions.

AEG has just launched its second counter top coffee machine, manufactured in collaboration with the Italian producer Lavazza, A Modo Mio Favola Cappuccino. Based on Lavazza’s capsule system, the machine has new milk frothing system that dispenses cappuccions and café lattes at the touch of a button.

The BSH group continues to develop sophisticated bean-to-cup machines under its Bosch, Siemens, Neff and Gaggenau brands – in both freestanding and built-in categories. For example, both Bosch VeroBar300 Black and VeroCafe Black powerful machines (1700W and 1600W respectively) are equipped in a innovative sensoFlow System that heats the water consistently as it flows through the element, allowing for quick setting change between cappuccino and espresso.

The company also keeps developing its Tassimo portion coffee range. New Costa coffee T DISCs enable Costa fans to make americano, cappuccino and latte in the comfort of their own home.

Miele, who manufactured the world’s first built-in coffee machine in 1998, has introduced the CM5200, that allows the user to make up to two cups of coffee at the touch of a button using an automatic milk heating and frothing feature.

As space saving is an important consideration for many owners of urban homes,  De’Longhi has launched, the PrimaDonna S DeLuxe, its most compact and feature-rich bean-to-cup coffee machine. Meanwhile De’Longhi’s new state-of-the-art PrimaDonna Exclusive combines sophisticated functionality with a stylish Italian stainless steel finish, and features a large TFT colour display and a touch sensitive screen.

De’Longhi’s bean-to-cup coffee machines are all fitted with energy saving functions including stand-by functions and power supply switches for zero energy consumption.

With over 60 years of Italian espresso heritage, Gaggia (the brand is now owned by Philips), offers a range of manual freestanding domestic coffee machines, such as the iconic Gaggia Classic and the new Gaggia Grangaggia, that uses both coffee pods and ground coffee. For the gadget lovers the company has the Saeco collection that ranges from the Saeco Xelsis Digital ID that features fingerprint technology with a unique multi-user function, up to nine coffee specialities that can be personalised by six different users, to the new Saeco Itelia Focus that is a one-touch espresso maker, that adjusts the strength and length of drink as required. 

Nespresso, who pioneered the portioned coffee segment 25 years ago, launched in 2012 a range of both consumer and professional machines (the company supplies 640 Michelin star restaurants worldwide). There are two new additions to its range of Pixie machines; ‘Brown’ and ‘Carmine’.  They feature side panels made of 98% recycled Nespresso Grand Cru capsules. Originally launched in six colours in 2011, Pixie automatically powers off after nine minutes of inactivity, consuming 40% less energy than average A class machines.

New is also Nespresso’s U range that features minimalist and modular design and cutting edge technology that memorises the user’s favourite cup length, and is pre-programmed with the Ristretto, Espresso and Lungo sizes.

The Automatic Espresso EA9000 is the new machine in the Krups bean-to-cup premier range. Equipped with colour display and touch screen technology, the machine can personalise drinks for each member of the household. “The machine, which benefits from the unique and innovative automatic rinsing and cleaning of the steam nozzle, makes the fastest single cappuccino and latte in lab tests when tested against its competitors, thanks to the reduced amount of time it took to manually clean the machine after use,” explains Jane Yelloly, product manager for coffee, Groupe SEB UK Ltd.

Integrated perfection

“For those retailers that are selling the dream of a luxury built-in kitchen, the integrated coffee machine is an ideal niche appliance that will set the kitchen apart from the rest. It not only looks stylish but also saves space on the work surface, which is always a useful selling point,” stresses Richard Walker, sales and marketing director, De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances.

As part of its Compact 45 Collection, De Dietrich’s DED1140X automatic integrated coffee machine, has cool blue light, which can be made a feature at night. It can be situated anywhere as it does not require plumbing. It features a 2 litre water tank and the coffee bean holder that can accommodate up to 300g of coffee. With two separate heating elements, the machine can simultaneously make two separate types of drinks.

95% of Gaggenau customers strongly consider integrating a coffee machine into their kitchen plans. The CM 250 machine from Gaggenau prepares every variation of espresso and milk-mix drinks, as well as the classic cup of coffee, warm milk and hot water for other beverages including tea.

Gorenje introduced a coffee machine to its range for the first time in 2011. The CFA9100E built-in model lets the consumer create coffee in a variety of strengths and sizes, and their preferences can then be stored in the coffee machine’s memory. The machine’s USP is the antibacterial programme which treats the milk dispenser and inner suction tubes. The appliance also performs a self-clean of the dispensing nozzles every time it is turned on or off, removing coffee residue and preventing clogging.

Smeg has two integrated coffee machines: the contemporary fully automatic ‘Linea’ CMSC45 in black or stainless steel and blue LED backlit controls to match the other cooking appliances in the ‘Linea’ range and the CMS45X which is also a fully automatic.  Both machines have a multi-lingual LCD display, take either fresh whole beans or ground coffee and require only a 13 Amp power supply.

Selling a lifestyle

Market statistics clearly show that the independent sector is reluctant to venture into this product category, although it is one of very few markets growing in the recession. Although the average price in this sector seems low (£85) the models with real customer appeal range from £200 to £1,700 – which is indicative of the coffee makers’ aspirational status and sales potential.

“I do not believe that the market will polarise. As the coffee culture continues to grow in the UK, consumers will be willing to pay more for good quality, well designed coffee machines that will provide them with great tasting drinks, “argues Groupe SEB’s Jane Yelloly.

Lifestyle appeal and sophisticated functionality of coffee makers need to to be demonstrated and explained to customers if sales potential of this product category is to be realized. And the timing is perfect. “Around  two thirds of all coffee machine sales take place in October, November and December so now is the time to ensure you have displays on the shop floor and back up stock to cover,” advises Susan Morris, Electrolux’s trade marketing manager, floorcare and small appliances.

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