Barista Technology Australia on empowering technicians to become educators, the next phase of data integration, and why the company will keep being an industry disruptor.
Barista Technology Australia works with hundreds of tech customers who install and service their products around Australia, but the one question they all keep asking company CEO Brett Bolwell is, “how do I grow in 2023?”
For this reason, Barista Technology Australia is planning a “big drive” in the technical arena this year, a sector Brett says has been relatively left alone, until now.
“We want to do a big push to all the tech companies that want to grow their business and deliver a key message to their clientele. They’re the ones on the front line. Every day they’re out there servicing thousands of cafés each week. They’re the unsung heroes in the industry,” Brett says.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations and they’re all interested in growth and expansion, and the more they understand our products, the greater the opportunity is to expand their business and offer a better service and solution to their café customers. Rather than just doing regular servicing of shower screens and burrs, they can educate their customers on how to use our products properly, who are equally as interested in running their business more effectively.”
Take the Flow telemetry system for example. Once a technician is across its operations, they can identify and maintain issues from the metrics they observe, such as leaky solenoid valves or if the volumetrics aren’t set up correctly.
“These are the things that roasters won’t know but a technician will. They can identify what’s causing an issue thanks to the data that Flow provides. Before going to a service, they can see that the customer’s done about 18,000 cups [of coffee], which is likely to mean they’re due for a burr or filter replacement compared to a venue that’s only done about 3000 [cups of coffee]. It’s all about helping businesses improve and achieve excellence at the end of the day,” Brett says.
The training of more technicians is already underway, with Barista Technology Australia soon to release about 50 to 60 “short, sharp, succinct” online videos for training and better support mechanisms on its website.
“Rather than ringing Barista Technology Australia to ask questions about a product or sifting through a manual, all the resources and information you need will be online. It will make our job easier and the job of technicians even simpler,” Brett says.
One such product technicians will have to adapt to, is the newly released grinder integration with Flow, which is in the final stages of completion.
“It’s one of the biggest innovations I think we’ll ever come up with. Once a customer has a Flow device on their machine, our new grind-by-weight grinder will talk to the machine through Flow. As the flow rates changes because of the grind, it will automatically adjust the volume of coffee and the grind particle size,” Brett says.
“If your shot is running too fast and you need to adjust the grind a bit tighter, this new grinder will be smart enough to adjust the particle size finer, but the weight and volume of coffee dispensed too. It will extend its running time to get the right weight, while constantly feeding information back to Flow. The interesting this about it, is that it uses a bit of artificial intelligence technology, and will forecast where you’re going, and start to make adjustments before you need a big adjustment. It’s really quite intelligent.”
Most exciting, Brett says, is that the new grinder is the final piece to the puzzle that eliminates a barista’s manual thinking process about what way to adjust the grind, and how far to take it.
“This new grinder will get rid of that problem-solving for you and allow the barista to just focus on what they need to, which is service, and engagement with the customer,” he says.
Manual grinder adjustment is a problem many baristas face. On a recent trip to Auckland, New Zealand, Brett saw an extraction running too fast and asked the barista if she knew how to adjust the grinder. She said, “yes”, but that she was not allowed to change it, only the manager could but he wasn’t there.
“It happens a lot in cafés. As a result, shot profiles go up and down they end up wasted a lot of coffee, or worst still, they end up serving a massively under-standard coffee because they don’t know how to do it right,” Brett says.
The Flow grinder integration project is currently being tested in Europe and is expected to launch to market in Q1, 2023.
“It’s developed in Australia but it really is a global project,” Brett says. “We’re trying to keep the manufacturing here in Australia.”
Also to be released in Q1 2023 are PuqPress variations, including the Puqpress M2 Universal under-grinder coffee tamper.
“There won’t be a single grinder in the market that we can’t put a PuqPress underneath,” Brett says.
With so many plans already underway for Barista Technology Australia, Brett predicts the rest of the market will follow suit, resulting in a lot more technology and innovation in telemetry systems and coffee machines to be revealed over the coming 12 months.
“I don’t doubt for a minute that there are not other manufacturers looking at what we’re doing,” Brett says.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more data integration with different platforms – so coffee machines and grinders talking to other systems. We’re already talking to a couple of big software companies about how we can integrate with their systems as well.”
He also expects online training systems to have more uptake, with the idea of sending trainers out to sites becoming irrelevant because of the cost attached and constant staff rotation.
Another alternative is to educate the next generation of baristas. As such, Barista Technology Australia has worked with TAFE Queensland to develop a new specific barista training program. It had a soft launch in December 2022 and is set to be released in South East Queensland “fairly significantly” at the end of January 2023.
“We’ll start to see a massive training uptake in schools. We’ve been working on this for around 18 months, so I’m pretty proud to say we finished it. Ultimately, the goal is, once we take it nationally through the TAFE platform, to start training kids at year 10 in school to do a barista training program,” Brett says. “When they get out of school, they can become a barista, get into hospitality, or go work for a chain, for example, but having that skill-set as a barista is so valuable, and we need more trained people in the industry.”
Brett adds that importing hospitality workers is a short-term fix that can’t be sustained. What is, is to work with the Australian government and organisations like TAFE, to have a more long-term approach.
“Once someone has a barista training program under their belt, they can move into other areas of the hospitality industry and pursue other career avenues. There are so many different programs inside the TAFE and education system for hospitality, we just need to start training people,” he says.
Barista Technology Australia is ready for another big year. Brett is excited to facilitate the next phase of the company’s growth, and is looking at bigger plans over the next five years, with the aim of continuing to support the Australian coffee industry with products and services that helps it grow.
“We read the market pretty well, it’s one of our strengths. As a disruptor in the market, we know where it’s going to be in the next five to 10 years, and we’re not just talking about it, we’re doing it now. The fact that we’re actively involved in multiple projects is a testament to the fact that we get stuff done,” Brett says.
For more information, visit baristatechnology.com.au
This article appears in the February 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.