The presence of coffee shops, such as Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Starbucks, on almost every high street has raised people’s expectations of the quality and variety of coffee they drink. In fact, coffee has become a part of the modern lifestyle. Recreating ‘the café experience’ at home is now not only an aspiration but it is considered a necessity by many consumers, especially during the recession. This is excellent news for electrical retailers.
“Over the last year, the hot beverage makers have made the transition from a ‘nice to have’ products to ‘must have’ appliances, experiencing a minor drop of 0.4% in sales value over the 12 months to August 2009, with the market now worth £45.3m,” commented Andrew Walsh, GfK account executive, Domestic Appliances. “Espresso and filter coffee machines make up 95% of this market value, with both segments growing by 5% over this period. Large declines in smaller areas such as tea makers and soluble hot beverage makers have led to the slight decline in the market overall.”
Richard Walker, sales & marketing director, De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances confirms this trend: “One of the biggest winners during the recession has been the coffee retail sector. Last year, when the UK was going through its biggest ever downturn, coffee shop openings increased by 25% (source: The Daily Telegraph). Britain has become a nation of coffee drinkers, with 87% of all coffee purchased being either beans or ground and just 13% being instant coffee. The promotion of Fair Trade Coffee, which allows the consumer to feel good about the product they drink, has also expanded the market, and 14% of all coffee purchased in the UK is now ‘ethically’ sourced. (Source: Ethical Consumer).”
Creating that perfect cup
The coffee maker manufacturers have been responding to these trends, bringing to the market a variety of table-top and integrated models which use increasingly sophisticated technology to recreate the variety of types and tastes of coffee drinks available on the high street, but which are increasingly simple to use.
“Individuality has become a major concern for consumers as they desire to tailor everything to their tastes,” says Danny Lay, sales director of Caple. “Coffee machines which can really adapt and be programmed to create the perfect coffee to customer specification are at the forefront of the market. A range of settings must be provided to enable this, including grind time, water volume, coffee and steam temperature, tamping pressure and more. The machine must be able to remember every adjustment and to produce the perfect coffee every time.”
For example, Siemens engineers and tasters spent many hours “considering the best aroma, the perfect crema, the frothiest milk and the finest bean-to-cup experience,” says Ian Nicholson, BSH CP sales director. “After designing new ways to produce their perfect ingredients they built them into machines with fabulous looks and great simplicity of use. It’s all about convenience and choice. Consumers appreciate the features of Siemens EQ7 machine such as the aroma whirl plus system, frothing nozzles for cappuccino, adjustable cup and strength size plus cup warmer. They also like the fact that cleaning and descaling are automatic on Siemens coffee machines.”
Growing sophistication of table-top models
In the counter top category there is a great diversity of models from filter coffee machines to highly sophisticated and expensive pump and pod machines.
What’s clear at every level is the increasing functionality of new models which reflects the growing sophistication of the consumers. For example, the new Arc Filter Coffee Maker and Arc Bean Grinder from Morphy Richards have been designed for the consumers new to the ‘make-at-home’ coffee market who want to discover their own perfect mix of coffee bean flavours and strengths at home. The complimentary Arc Bean Grinder can be seen as the second step in coffee making at home as the users explore their taste in coffee and start grinding and mixing their own beans.
Developing Senseo Latte Select, Philips followed the evolution of customers’ tastes. Vanessa Von Muhlen, senior marketing manager at Philips Domestic Appliances explains: “With Senseo, Philips has developed the idea of a cup by cup coffee machine that uses single coffee pods to allow consumers to freshly brew one cup of a particular roast and then another cup of something completely different. However, people in the UK increasingly see coffees made with fresh, frothed milk as an indulgence. The fresh milk container on the Philips Senseo Latte Select provides this indulgent experience by enabling consumers to make their own cappuccino, café latte or latte macchiato quickly and easily at home.” Philips has also recently acquired Saeco and its Gaggia brand to offer these higher end appliances to those customers who enjoy more than the occasional cup of coffee and wish to make these iconic machines an integral part of their kitchen.
The desire to produce a good cup of coffee without any effort has led to the popularity of the pod machine. Pods allow users to make a variety of styles of coffee to suit their mood, or their guests’ different tastes. Bosch responded to these expectations launching last year the Tassimo multi-drink machine which was updated this year by adding Brita water filtration and a new LED window offering instant feedback on the readiness of the drink.
Also De’Longhi has been perfecting capsule coffee machines, such as the De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima. The Italian manufacturer has recently added the patented De’Longhi milk carafe to its PrimaDonna, Nespresso Lattissima and Perfecta ESAM 5500. “It simply plugs into the front of bean-to-cup and Nespresso machines and enables consumers to froth fresh milk for professional standard cappuccinos and lattes, and it can even be cleaned, all at the touch of a button,” explains Kate Rolton, brand manager at De’Longhi UK.
Italian manufacturer Polti not only produces its coffee makers but also sources coffee used in them. Its coffee @Espresso machine featuers a special system for coffee dispensing, which produces a dense and compact crema like the real espresso. It uses vacuumpackaged capsules which preserve the freshness and the aroma of coffee.
Meanwhile, Siemens has found that there is room for higher-priced designer products for customers who consider coffee makers an important fashion statement. The Siemens Porsche models are fully automatic bean-to cup coffee machines with a unique ‘aroma whirl plus’ system which gives excellent flavour to the coffee by whirling ground coffee inside a closed device to ensure that every grain of coffee is reached by water.
The built-in sector
Since coffee has become a part of our lifestyle and social interactions also at home, a number of domestic appliance manufacturers have added integrated coffee makers to their portfolios of built-in appliances. For example, Caple has just released the CM300SA semi-automatic coffee machine which can be built-in seamlessly next to a Caple Sense oven or microwave. Able to specify the user’s preferences on bean grinding, both how fine and for how long, the CM300SA will then repeat these settings on every coffee drink. Capable of preparing two drinks at a time, the CM300SA also features a steam nozzle for milk frothing, an accessory storage drawer and a water tank, and it does not require plumbing installation.
Also Smeg launched its first range of built-in coffee machines in 2009. The 45cm frameless fully automatic coffee machines fit into 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 for regular or double coffee; has a steam function and frothing no
zzle for cappuccinos; and a hot water function for tea or other hot drinks.
Miele has been perfecting its built-in coffee machines since 1998. Neil Poole explains the importance of ‘intelligent’ technology for making that perfect cup. “Great coffee is not just a question of the right beans; the right water pressure and temperature are also extremely important. Miele coffee machines’ integral technology makes this possible, from the touch sensor control panel to the ease of use and maintenance.
Miele’s range of coffee machines now includes models using fresh coffee beans and integrated Nespresso coffee machines, unique on the market, that use pods. “We have branched out into the freestanding coffee machine market with the CVA 3650 ST which uses the Nespresso coffee pods to deliver the perfect coffee every time.”
De Dietrich the DED700X touch control integrated coffee machine, has two heating elements and can make two separate types of drinks simultaneously, so a cappuccino and espresso can be made at the same time. Moreover it can be situated anywhere within the kitchen layout as it does not require plumbing into the mains. Also the Fagor 2MQC-A10X model requires no plumbing in. It has three programmes, Espresso, Normal or Long. The grinding level and water temperature can be adjusted to individual needs.
Good looks are essential
The owners of coffee machines consider them to be a part of their lifestyle, and since most of the time they are on display, their design is very important.
The aesthetics, even of classic models, are constantly being updated and although stainless steel and black finishes are still popular, bright colours, such as the red Tassimo, are increasingly in demand.
De’Longhi has made its new Icona bar pump coffee machines a focal point in their own right in the kitchen by manufacturing them in a range of eye-catching colours, such as Scarlet Red, Pearl White, Onyx Black and Azure Blue, to match the Icona kettles and toasters.
Built-in coffee makers have a unique appeal, and in this sector design tends to come before price. The seamless finish, coordinated with other appliances in the range wins the day. “For those retailers who are selling the dream of a luxury builtin kitchen, the integrated coffee machine represents a fantastic opportunity to add this niche appliance to the overall layout that will set the entire kitchen apart from the rest. It not only looks fantastic but also saves space on the work surface, which is useful to highlight when selling this appliance,” comments De Dietrich’s Richard Walker.
Selling the aspirations
Selling the idea of coffee making at home to the professional standard is about selling a certain lifestyle which makes the home a centre of one’s interactions with the family and a wider world – an idea particularly attractive during the current recessionary times.
Moreover, in this product category the price is not the leading factor which is good news for the independent sector. However, “education is key to the coffee category, as most customers rarely know exactly what they are looking for until they explore the available options,” reminds Kate Rolton, brand manager at De’Longhi UK.Therefore, like in the case of all small kitchen appliances, demonstration is essential for successful sales in this sector. However a working coffee machine has a unique appeal which few products could match. The aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee in the showroom attracts customer interest even before the selling process begins.
What is on offer?
FILTER COFFEE MAKERS AND PERCOLATORS
Filter coffee machine are very easy to use. Water simply drips slowly through a basket of ground coffee to infuse in a pot. There’s no need to boil the water first.
Percolators work the other way around. Ground coffee is put into a holder at the top, water in the bottom. Once boiled, the steam is forced through the filter and the brewed coffee settles in the bottom of the jug. Percolators are ideal for those who want to vary the strength of their filter coffee.
ESPRESSO MAKERS produce very strong coffee. There are two basic types of machines: pressure and pump machines.
Pressure machines. Water is boiled in a chamber and this builds pressure and steam. Eventually pressure forces the boiling water through to the coffee. The steam can be used for frothing.
Pump machines are more expensive than pressure machines. They 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. Espresso coffee is made by using finely-ground coffee. Some machines also use a pod system.
Nespresso. This is also a ‘pod’ system that produces espresso coffee. The coffee is blended, roasted, grounded, and then hermetically sealed in capsules which stay fresh for up to nine months. The advantages of this system are that it’s an easy way to make coffee. The downside is that the user is tied to the supplier’s range of coffees, some of which are only available by mail order.
- Familiarise yourself with the benefits of different types of coffee machines so you can help customers make the right purchase for their lifestyle.
- Demonstrate how easy they are to use and clean.
- Learn about varieties of coffee and their characteristics, different ways of preparing them and discuss with the customers their preferences. This will make your sales pitch more credible (eg. See www.talkaboutcoffee.com).
- Incorporating an integrated coffee machine within a retail display also creates a talking point, and opens up lines of communication between the retailer and customer.
- Treat your customers to a cup of freshly brewed coffee from the working machine on display and plant in their mind the idea of a present for a special occasion.