Barista Equip CEO Brett Bolwell discusses current trends in the coffee machine market, and why cafés need to look for money-saving avenues wherever they can.
While no two cafés are 100 per cent alike, many cafés across Australia do experience the same economic challenges. Coffee equipment distributor Barista Equip, formerly known as Barista Technology Australia, is constantly looking for ways to help regional cafés by providing them with access to tools that will allow them to save money wherever they can.
“The cost of labour has gone up, as have the costs associated with running a café in general,” says Barista Equip CEO Brett Bolwell. “We need to alleviate some of these pressures, and that’s exactly what we can do.”
As such, Barista Equip has identified one key trend in the coffee machinery market which cafés should focus on in order to cut costs.
“If you look at the way the industry is going, there is no doubt it is heading towards super automatics,” Brett says. “We’re already seeing this change in America, especially led by brands like Eversys.
“In the past, I’ve always looked at what the Americans are doing and thought they were a bit behind when it comes to the way they do coffee. Now it seems as if they’ve worked it out quicker and realised that they can’t always control the coffee outcome if they don’t go down the automatic route.”
Brett believes Australia has lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to the rise of automation, largely due to baristas preferring more traditional methods of coffee preparation. He feels there is a concern among Australian café owners that customers have come to expect a certain level of detail in the coffee-making process, but that concern is mitigated when automation results in a great coffee.
“It’s not about how the machine looks on the bench or how much work the barista does,” Brett says. “The most important thing for a café to consider is whether or not the customer will be happy with the end product.”
By leaning into the world of automation, Brett believes cafés will start to save money.
“With the workload levels that some of these machines have, you could honestly trim staff down to just one barista at a time and still produce over a hundred coffees every hour,” he says.
It’s these adjustments that can significantly help a café, with flow-on effects like reduced prices enticing customers to stick around and order another round of coffees.
Barista Equip understands that needs vary from café to café and that adjustments are necessary to find the right equipment to help each business grow.
“What we do is offer people both [automated and traditional machines],” Brett says. “We work with our customers and ask if they want a partially deconstructed system or if they want to fully lean into the automatic sector.
“It’s all about listening to what the customers are saying. This has always been one of our key drivers.”
Another key driver for Barista Equip is the search for new innovations. Brett visited the Host Milano expo in Italy from 13 to 17 October where a wide range of automation technology was on display.
“The direction of automation seemed to be particularly guided by telemetry and automatically adjustable grinders,” Brett says.
This industry direction is a large reason Barista Equip has been proud to showcase the Flow Grinder to the coffee world. Developed by Flow in conjunction with grinder manufacturer Fiorenzato, the self-adjusting grinder is designed to keep recipes consistent.
“For us, seeing telemetry in general get plenty of attention at Host was a real ‘wow’ moment because we’ve been able to keep on top of its growth with the Flow system,” Brett says.
The Flow Grinder features an 83-millimetre burr set and is built to perform in demanding environments that expect a large quantity of high-quality coffees. The machine’s auto-adjustments allow the user to worry less about producing the right quantity of grind and focus on producing the end result.
The grinder can allow the user to monitor the process using its telemetry system, which Barista Equip offers in 12- and 24-month subscriptions.
The device itself can be integrated with any Flow machine in order to analyse data in real-time in a discrete fashion. The data is displayed on gauges that give baristas instant feedback on whether the coffee being produced is up to standard, while the analytics dashboard analyses each shot with statistics on the overall performance of the store.
“The Flow system is something we’ve been working on for a few years now,” Brett says. “We can definitely see systems like this taking off in the near future.”
Looking at other future trends, Brett says larger machine manufacturers are focusing on coffee-making components that still vary in consistency when handled manually. He points to milk automation as a key example.
“Customers have so many different variables of milk now, so you need to figure out a way to make it consistent across the board,” he says.
Barista Equip is working to address this issue, with plans to add a new milk automation device into its portfolio in 2024.
That idea of consistency is vital to much of the Barista Equip range, especially when it comes to automation.
“A lot of cafés tend to worry about consistency and bringing in baristas that completely know what they are doing,” Brett says. “This is why we’re going to see a strong rise of automation in the future.”
Brett is confident that he and the team at Barista Equip have the knowledge and experience to help guide cafés toward making the right decisions for their business. For some, this will include a collaboration with Eversys, of which Brett says is one of the leading brands of advanced automation in coffee.
Barista Equip is a new sub-distributor through its partnership with Service Sphere in Queensland. Service Sphere is one of two official distributors of Eversys in Australia.
“I’ve been in the coffee industry for 23 years now, and because I’ve had this experience I feel as if our ear to the market is pretty good,” he says. “It’s all about how you want to go about reducing costs.”
For more information, visit www.baristaequip.com.au
This article appears in the December 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.