Black magic

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The great number of people who walk the streets nursing paper cups with their favourite hot drink is a reflection of the extent to which the café culture has established itself in Britain. Although the love of coffee on the go is particularly widespread among urbanites, the wide availability of high quality coffee has affected the whole society. Many Brits who are no longer satisfied with a lukewarm cup of instant attempt to recreate the ‘proper’ coffee experience at home.
“The high street coffee houses have opened up coffee possibilities which people hadn’t known in the past. Fifteen years ago, when a customer went to a café or a restaurant in the UK, they would have been offered a coffee or a tea. Today they are being asked what coffee or tea they would like. Moreover, most people now know what café latte, cappuccino or macchiato is and what are their preferences. The seed has been sown by the coffee shops and people want to be able to create such coffee in their homes,” explains Brema Drohan, managing director, Nespresso UK.  She also points out to the factor which defines the attractiveness of this sector to electrical retailers: “This situation has also created confusion because these types of coffee are made by commercial-size coffee machines, the technology of which is totally alien to consumers. Therefore they go the electrical retailer and say that they wish to buy a cappuccino machine. They don’t know that they actually need an espresso machine to produce espresso coffee and froth milk to make cappuccino.”
Market dynamics
The total coffee makers market, worth £45.5 million, showed an overall decline of 4.7% on the last year’s figures (Jul ’07- June ’08; GfK). During this period, 864 thousand units were sold, which was 14.7% less than in the previous 12 months. However, the espresso machines which constitute 56.4% of the total coffee market, showed a significant growth – of 14.2%. This means that customers are increasingly buying more sophisticated and more expensive machines. The fact that the average price of an espresso maker which now stands at £119 has increased by 70% over the last two years, confirms this trend.
Meanwhile, filter coffee makers, which take 34% share of the £45.5 million market have declined by 19.6% over the last twelve months, with the average price increasing by 4% to £29.
A number of socio-economic trends stimulate the demand in this market. “The increase in the availability of wireless Internet and developments in technology has also contributed to the cafe culture.  People are now better equipped to work on the move and for many popping to their favourite coffee house to take time out from a busy office and finish off some work is part of the norm and a welcome alternative to taking work home,” says Cheryl Henrys Dean, product manager for built-in at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances. Then she adds: “The huge media focus on the dangers of drinking alcohol may also be a contributory factor. Whilst in the past people tended to meet up for a drink at the pub, now they are opting to meet for coffee instead.”
And yet, as the economic recession starts to bite, people are likely to cut back on coffee on the go and to invest in a coffee maker to be able to make quality coffee at home.
What’s on offer
Tapping into the wide appeal of coffee, the manufacturers are catering for every taste and pocket with their product offers.
Since many Brits like filter coffee, which can be made very easily and fast, some manufacturers, such as Russell Hobbs keep developing this product category. Its most recent offer includes Russell Hobbs Combi Coffee Maker, which is a compact filter and espresso machine, and Russell Hobbs Fast Brew Filter Coffee Maker which brews coffee faster than normal filter coffee machines. The unique feature of the Bosch Private Collection filter coffee maker is an integrated Brita filter which enhances the quality of water and the taste of the coffee.  Importantly, these machines take relatively little space on the kitchen worktop.
Since the majority of best loved coffees are produced by espresso machines this product category is very broad. In the freestanding category there are a number of models which only dispense espresso coffee – although at different strengths and ‘lengths’.  They are perfect for the black coffee enthusiasts.
However, since the majority of Brits like their coffee with fresh milk, equipping the machines with milk containers and milk heating and frothing functions was the next step in the product development process in this category. The majority of espresso makers now have ‘a milk component’ essential for making lattes, cappuccinos and machiatos.  Philips’ Senseo Latte Select has been recently redeveloped with this requirement in mind.
“Increasing interest in coffee machines has led to two major innovations within the category – the development of single-serving capsule and pod coffee machines and fully automatic bean-to-cup coffee machines,” explains Mark Swift, marketing manager at De’Longhi UK. “Both types of coffee machines have benefits. Capsule coffee machines, such as Nespresso, guarantee freshness as they are sealed, and they help consumers save time as the coffee does not have to be ground. Meanwhile, bean-to-cup machines (such as the De’Longhi PrimaDonna or Pefrecta) are the real transition of professional bar and café coffee makers into the domestic environment. Bean-to-cup machines have built-in grinders to freshly grind beans for every cup, and produce consistently perfect espresso, with minimal consumer involvement.”
Perfection in a pod
Consumers looking for quality of taste, variety of coffee styles and the convenience of one-button, fast operation should be recommended coffee pod machines.
“With something as subjective as coffee and its correct preparation, buyers want a coffee maker that makes a good cup of coffee without any effort. This has lead to the growth in popularity of the pod machine. It takes all the hassle out of getting the perfect cuppa. You can also make a variety of styles of coffee to suit your mood, or your guests’ different tastes. Bosch recently launched a new Tassimo range, the latest of which is a red model for Christmas and at the top end of the pod market, the Siemens Nespresso has established a firm grip on the market,” explains Jane Lee, category manger, consumer products division at the BSH Group. 
Bearing in mind the importance of milk for the British consumer, Nespresso has equipped it classic compact Essenza machine with new milk accessory, the Nespresso Aeroccino – a separate milk ‘flask’ which produces hot milk froth in under a minute.
The built-in options
The ultimate commitment to coffee making, requiring larger financial investment, is the built-in category of coffee makers, considered by real coffee aficionados and people embarking on kitchen makeovers. “With the bean to cup machine, such as Neff C7660, the user can select beans from different brands, blends and types to express his or her individuality – in much the same way as you would enjoy a glass of your favourite red or white wine with a meal,” explains Mike Jarrett, sales director of Neff. “Built-in coffee makers are innovative, convenient and compact as they fit neatly into a microwave oven housing, in tandem with a matching oven.”  
Miele, the manufacturer of the world’s first built-in coffee machine, which has been perfecting this category since 1998, has launched earlier this year the CVA5065 – plumbed coffee maker which has storage for cold milk. The thermally insulated milk flask keeps milk chilled for up to 12 hours.  However, this year Miele has also released its first freestanding Nespresso model – the CVA3650 – which has a capsule magazine holding five blends and 20 capsules in total.
The De Dietrich, which prides itself in its technological innovations, has an integrated coffee machine, the DED 700X, featuring two heating elements which can make cappuccino and espresso simultaneously in around 60 seconds. It also has a steam outlet for milk frothing and provides hot water for tea-making or hot chocolate.
Also Hotpoint’s HCM15 integrated coffee maker allows consumers to choose from fresh coffee, cappuccino/latte and espresso, and to change the quantity, temperature and strength of the coffee. The machine can be programmed for users’ favourite coffee settings at the touch of a button. In the Stoves collection of integrated appliances – the Accolade – there is also a built-in coffee maker.
Customer expectations
The design in this product category is of paramount importance because, unlike some small kitchen appliances which are put away after use, it remains on the worktop where the proud owners want to display it.
“The coffee machine has almost taken the role of a social Mecca for coffee lovers, so great tasting coffee and minimum fuss is essential. Customers expect a machine that makes the perfect tasting cup, can produce no-fuss rich, creamy frothy milk without any user intervention, is equipped with effortless controls, is simple to maintain and creates a statement in the kitchen, ” says Neil Pooley, group product manager at Miele.
Jane Massey, brand manager of Siemens, has the following advice for customers wishing to invest in integrated coffee makers: “Instead of multiple models in column, there is a move towards creating a block of appliances installed in a wall or bank of tall units. Built-in coffee centres – together with warming drawers, steam ovens and combination microwaves – have become more in demand as consumers seek to create a bespoke cooking centre at eye level that is totally individual and specifically designed to accommodate their needs.”
Selling the magic
There are many coffee lovers in Britain willing to invest either in a free-standing or integrated coffee makers to have their favourite drink on tap at home. Many of them need plenty of advice on the benefits and features of the models which could best meet their requirements. This should be the greatest encouragement for retailers considering entering this product category.
The support from manufacturers is plentiful and additional promotions are scheduled for the Christmas period, including the largest ever print campaign prepared by Nespresso which will also run cinema advertising featuring its ambassador George Clooney and directed by Guy Ritchie.
With such support, it shouldn’t be too difficult to sell the idea that a coffee maker, which will produce this bewitching aroma on Christmas morning, could be one of the most welcome presents.

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