For a nation of dedicated tea drinkers, we love a cup of coffee – to the tune of 98 million cups a day, according to the British Coffee Association. Popular coffee chains such as Starbucks and Costa have opened our eyes to the joys of creative, flavour-packed coffees, while the increase in artisanal coffee producers has left the coffee connoisseur spoilt for choice.
We know what we like when ordering our coffee, from the type of milk to the number of pumps of flavoured syrups. Getting the desired style of coffee gives us that caffeine kick with a little bit extra. Whether you like to savour your flat white over a few blissful minutes to yourself or to sip it with a friend as you chat – coffee helps create a pleasurable window of time in a busy day.
The forward-thinking workplace is bringing the desirable coffee culture into the office to enhance the working environment. Tapping into our love for coffee and the vibe this uplifting drink can promote, the purchase of a great office coffee machine has some surprising benefits for a business. So, settle down with your iced caramel macchiato and explore the magic of the workplace coffee machine.
Coffee Culture and its Impact on the Office
The cultivation and trading of coffee beans can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula – a location that eventually enable the importation of coffee from around the world. Coffee made its way to Europe in the 17th century, and although it was initially met with some disapproval by clergy members, thanks to its bitter taste and stimulating nature, the Pope at the time was so enamoured with the drink he gave it papal approval.
From the Eastern coffee houses that cropped up in the 14th century, known as Qahveh Khaneh, to the early coffee shops in 17th century London that were popular spots for conducting meetings, coffee has always encouraged people to come together. This social aspect, coupled with the enjoyment of the drink and the coffee house setting, is what we refer to as coffee culture.
The wildly popular sitcom Friends, which heavily featured socialisation at a coffee house, undoubtedly fuelled the expansion of the coffee culture from the 1990s onwards. The major coffee chains became a place to hang out with friends and, as laptops and devices became wireless, to work.
Bringing the coffee culture to work encourages co-workers to spend time together, both socialising and talking about business in a more relaxed manner. It can also create a modern environment for meetings between you and your clients. It allows people in business to connect very humanly through the art of conversation and a shared experience – the enjoyment of delicious coffee.
Powering the Workplace
We all know that caffeine is an excellent stimulant, but it’s not just the fact that this drink can serve as a pick-me-up for sleepy workers in the morning or those suffering the dreaded mid-afternoon slump that makes coffee a dynamo for the office.
Encouraging workers to take regular coffee breaks (especially communal ones) has offered numerous benefits to the workforce. Research commissioned by Nespresso revealed the following details about workplace coffee machines and the coffee culture in the office:
- 75% of workers felt the availability of great coffee in the office showed that their employers cared about their well-being.
- 9 out of 10 workers view perks such as good coffee as important to staff retention.
- 67% of workers find they’re more productive after a coffee break.
- 7 out of 10 workers find out more about the comings and goings of the business around the office coffee machine than in other workplace settings.
- Over half of the employees had creative work ideas during their coffee breaks.
- 90% of workers who have access to high-quality coffee at the office feel motivated in their job.
- 81% of workers felt coffee breaks helped them build better colleague relationships.
- 83% of those workers whose companies employed over 20 staff felt that coffee breaks help relieve stress.
The office coffee station, stocked with excellent quality coffee, is a way to boost creativity, productivity, well-being, team bonding, and staff retention in the office.
Finding the Best Tea and Coffee Machine for Office Use
A key takeaway from the Nespresso research is that there needs to be a decent quality coffee for the workplace to see such benefits. It’s wise for business owners to see the office espresso machine as an investment; therefore, finding an excellent machine compatible with popular, high-quality coffee is a helpful step for the company.
Remember, employees are used to drinking good quality coffee from coffee houses and at home, with pod-style coffee machines being a common gadget in people’s kitchens. To make staff feel valued, choose a machine that matches or surpasses what they might use at home, and ensure they have a variety of coffees and milk to prepare their favourite drinks.
Pod vs Bean-to-Cup Systems
The best way to curate a coffee culture in the office is with a pod/cartridge system or a bean-to-cup machine. You’d certainly want to avoid having the standard instant coffee style vending machine as your only drinks option for staff.
The pod system has been made popular by brands such as Nespresso, Tassimo, and L’or. These machines are better suited to smaller offices, or you may need to set up a bank of devices in the break room to deal with the demand in larger companies.
The benefit of these ‘single brew’ office coffee machines is that they are quick and mess-free and can be more budget-friendly. Most people are familiar with how to operate them, and all you need to do for maintenance is keep refilling the water reservoir, run the cleaning programme daily, and keep a good supply of pods on hand. The pods are made using ground coffee, usually with a shelf-life of around 12 months – allowing your company to save money by buying in bulk. You can also purchase a range of dairy pods to complement the coffee, which can be stored at room temperature.
Bean-to-cup systems use coffee beans which the machine grinds to make a high-quality cup of coffee. Stocking the breakroom with one of these machines gives employees the authentic coffee house experience, with the sounds and smells they associate with this setting. Once staff are shown how to use the machine, the system will create the desired strength of coffee and can steam and foam milk.
For cleaning purposes, you’ll need to train staff to empty the coffee grinds and drip trays and to run cleaning programmes. Beans are poured into containers at the top as they run low. You can even choose a machine with a coffee bean capacity that reflects the number of staff in the office.
This professional style of office coffee station will set your business back significantly more than a pod machine, with popular models from brands such as CREW and JURA, suitable for a large office starting at £5000. However, you could easily pay double this figure. A smaller office could opt for simpler machines, with popular brands like De’Longhi, Gaggia, and Sage offering compact bean-to-cup models for under £1000.
How to Choose the Right Machine
With the power to make your staff feel good every time they have a break and to elevate their overall work experience within the company – you want to make the right workplace coffee machine choice!
When it’s time to bring the coffee culture to the office, consider the following points:
To buy or to rent?
Although most companies have a budget that could stretch to at least one pod system machine, consider renting a system if you’re keen to use a bean-to-cup device. Renting will avoid a large initial investment and spread out the cost of your office coffee use. It may allow you to provide your office with a far better standard of coffee machine than you could have afforded if buying.
Workplace coffee machine vendors offer decent discounts on beans; they’ll fit, install, repair, and maintain the machine for you. They will offer training in the machine’s use, and the overall customer support tends to be higher than when you purchase a machine.
How many people will it serve?
The number of employees and daily client visitors will guide your chosen machine size. If you need high numbers of cups per day, a double-headed coffee-to-bean machine may be the best option.
How easy is it for staff to use?
Most employees will either own or have used a pod system, but the bean-to-cup style of machine can be a little more technical. If you go for this option, be sure to choose a model that is easy to use, and if the budget allows, a touch screen with picture icons can be helpful.
Does the system use high-quality coffee?
Remember, all the research into the perks of coffee culture in the workplace referred to the use of coffee that employees classed as high-end. Make sure the system you choose uses coffee pods or beans that will produce a superb cup of coffee.
With a pod system, the best way to find out if the coffee is good enough is to try a variety of pods. An excellent shot of black coffee will feature what is known as a ‘crema’ – that pale brown foam that gathers on the surface. The flavour will be bitter, but it should be balanced by both acidity and sweetness.
If you have decided to go for a bean-to-cup system, you have the freedom to source coffee beans, allowing you to have complete autonomy over the quality. You can choose the beans based on where they were grown, how they were roasted, and the flavour profiles associated with them.
What types of coffee can the machine make?
Coffee culture has ensured that we’ve all become experts in the different types of coffee drinks. Though the standard tea and coffee machine for the office used to offer us little more choice than black or white coffees, the pod and bean-to-cup machines available today can offer a diverse range, from espressos to lattes, and macchiatos to cappuccinos.
It can be disappointing to find that your favourite coffee or a similar alternative isn’t available, so make sure all the popular choices are covered – that way, you’ll always be able to make staff and clients happy.
Before you make your purchase, it might be a good idea to run a poll in the office to ensure the most popular style of coffee is catered for. If you have many iced coffee fanatics, keep the breakroom freezer well stocked with ice.
Businesses are being encouraged to play their part in tackling climate change, and many company owners and management teams take their role in reducing the environmental impact of their businesses very seriously. When buying an office coffee machine that will be used heavily each day, you need to weigh up its sustainability credentials.
There are concerns over the lack of recycling options for coffee pods. Brands such as Dolce Gusto, Nespresso and Tassimo have pods that can be recycled but check with your local authority to see how they like the pods to be delivered with the recycling. Often they prefer the spent pods to be sent in a sealed bag, so ensure your office has a procedure for collecting pods and securing them after use.
With the right machine at your fingertips, you can infuse your business with the comforting scents of coffee, motivate your staff and breed a cohesive, collaborative, and creative environment for your employees.