Coffee Machine Technologies Founder John Colangeli discusses the brand’s evolution and what the growth of the business says about its longevity in the specialty coffee industry.
When John Colangeli founded Coffee Machine Technologies (CMT) in 2004, the business was simply “a man and a van”, centering around John and his trusty tool bag.
Today, CMT is one of the most recognised independent service establishments in Australia, supplying and servicing a range of coffee roasters, coffee chain stores, independent cafés, and corporate organisations Australia-wide.
“Coffee Machine Technologies built its reputation as one of the first independent service companies and today is an industry leader in international and domestic markets for coffee equipment service, repairs, and sales,” says John.
After providing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the industry for the first 12 months, John expanded the business to five technicians, a service department consisting of handpicked industry professionals who were providing around-the-clock support to all customers.
“Our knowledge of technical expertise covers all coffee machines including the early models through to the latest in design technology,” says John.
He has developed his expertise over the years by offering customers integrated and tailored service solutions designed for the hospitality industry.
Once CMT reached its fifth year in business, John was eager to take it to the next stage, and perfect sales, customer relations, and account management.
CMT originally sold equipment for other Australia distributors as a Victoria- based partner, and in 2009, was given the opportunity to work with La Marzocco and offer its equipment in Australia.
“While John focused on the technical side, I came on board to drive home the point that we offer more than just servicing coffee machines, and that we also offer quality specialty coffee equipment,” says
National Sales Manager Carmelo Corallo. “At the time, there was only a handful of La Marzocco machines in Melbourne. After reaching out and confirming we could offer their products, we had immediate success with La Marzocco machines in the first year,” John says.
This ignited John’s interest to branch out and distribute international brands. He secured exclusive international agreements for the world’s leading brands in coffee equipment.
“In 2012, I travelled to Europe to engage with overseas manufacturers and source our own brands. I secured contracts with companies such as Elektra, Orchestrale, Fiorenzato, and Astoria, to sell there machinery commercially,” says John.
In 2013, CMT opened one of Australia’s largest coffee machine showrooms in Docklands, Victoria. Storing the largest inventory of equipment and parts, CMT could supply its customers quickly, and easily customise customer requests.
“The Docklands showroom spanned 40 metres long of just coffee machines, and was widely recognised by overseas suppliers, who’d tell us they’d never seen anything like it,” John says.
“Our point of difference is that most manufacturers only showcase their own product or service one brand, but we provide all makes and models of coffee machines. We’re very lucky that our suppliers gave us the opportunity to showcase multiple brands.”
As the company built its equipment inventory, John says the industry could barely keep up with the brand’s growth.
The Docklands showroom allowed the company to hit the ground running in the domestic market with a suite of brands on offer, enabling a focus on manufacturing its own machine components.
In 2014, John decided he would further assist the company to service a wider range of Victoria by opening a second CMT branch in Rye. This allowed the company to service machinery in the Mornington Peninsula and provide a place for visitors to see new equipment that was not previously available in the area.
By 2015, CMT had opened a third branch in Geelong, Victoria, giving the company greater reach to service machinery state-wide. Although CMT still services the Geelong area, the company was forced to close the branch due to COVID-19.
As the company continued to grow, it followed a natural progression into surrounding states. In 2019, CMT opened its first New South Wales branch with the launch of its Port Botany headquarters. With the help of CMT Business Development Manager Dino Demetriou, the company’s influence quickly spread across Sydney and was able to reach other states, like Queensland.
“In those first 10 years of business, we established a precedent for high-quality service, which has allowed the business to maintain a continued growth,” John says.
This led to CMT opening a new retail showroom on Lygon Street in Melbourne in 2022. John says this positioning allows the company to reconnect to the Italian quarters of Melbourne, where one of the first lever-style espresso machines was installed at Università Café in the 1950s.
“To culminate our almost 20-year journey in the heart of Melbourne’s coffee culture, and to see [the showroom] so well received by the public, has been so rewarding. We’ve breathed life back into Lygon Street and it has allowed us to educate people about coffee machines on a domestic and retail level,” John says.
The showroom is accompanied by a café serving coffee and cannoli. John says it embodies an upper-class, elegant design.
“We want to bring Italy back to Carlton by creating a nostalgic, old-Italian feel, with lightbox displays of Italian actors from the 1960s and Italian music played in the background of the showroom,” he says.
The showroom replaces CMT’s Docklands location, which operated for 12 years.
“Because this is a retail-based showroom, we’re displaying a variety of commercial and domestic machines for the domestic market, as after the pandemic, people have grown accustomed to making a coffee at home,” says John.
He says watching the brand’s growth and impact on the café industry has been the most rewarding part of his career, as well as turning it into a family-run, second- generation business. John says CMT’s industry longevity reflects the support of both the Australian specialty coffee community and international partners worldwide.
“When I look back to what the business started as, to what it is now, and the 28 people now involved in the company, it’s easy to see the brand’s growth is thanks to the contribution of everybody in all aspects of the business. I’m very grateful for each of them,” says John.
“I’ve also enjoyed watching my son, Gianluca, take over aspects of the business and become Assist General Manager, which has taken a lot of pressure off me.”
The company has continued to develop and introduce new innovative ideas and technologies to the market, creating more reliable and cost-effective solutions. This includes the Australian designed Viper, an independent milk steamer which hit the market in 2015.
“We are a world industry leader and proud to be at the forefront of innovation in all types of coffee equipment,” says John.
“Nowadays, excellence lies in being able to manage changes and where possible, anticipate it. CMT is made up of motivated people who are committed and passionate in offering outstanding solutions and exceeding expectations.”
John says the brand’s commitment to service is underpinned by its detailed knowledge of the coffee industry.
“Through valuable connections we provide products designed for purpose and supported by our highest standards. Our promise is to provide high-quality service and coffee equipment that will add value and growth to your business,” he says.
For more information, visit www.coffeemachinetechnologies.com.au
This article appears in the April 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.