Automating Australia with Franke Coffee Systems

Australia’s coffee industry is renowned for its focus on quality and innovation. While most obvious in the wealth of micro roasters and independent outlets that contribute to the café scene, this focus on quality reaches across the wider coffee market.

David Downing, Sales Director Oceania of Franke Coffee Systems, says the strength of Australia and New Zealand’s cafés has heightened the standards of consumers across the board.

“We’re all kind of coffee geeks in Australia, regardless of individual levels of expertise. We live for our coffee. It’s a trend driven by the café market, but it’s expanding to everyday life,” Downing tells Global Coffee Report.

“The rest of the market, particularly in the Asia Pacific, watch what we do in the café sector and the innovations roasters bring to the market. Australia is a very mature market and it drives a lot of what happens in the global industry, particularly in equipment and fully automatics.”

Downing has helped grow Franke Coffee Systems’ presence in Oceania for more than a decade. In the last few years, he says there has been a rise in demand for reliable automatic coffee solutions.

“We’ve seen an increase in the need for companies to invest in these styles of machine, particularly with innovations in the technology. The introduction of telemetry has become prolific within segments across Australia and NZ,” Downing says.

“Super automatic technology has evolved to provide consistency every time you use it. There’s a lot of personal preference in coffee. We may prefer certain drinks or brands, but quality – and the ability of the machine to deliver it – is the most important aspect.”

Franke’s presence in the Australian market is best seen in the corporate sector, with offices wanting to provide inhouse coffee solutions for its employees. Other growth markets include the convenience store sector, HoReCa and hospitality, retail outlets, and – unique to Australia – the mining industry.

“When miners return home for breaks from work, they go to cafés and interact with their friends and families. Afterwards, they go back to their jobs at remote mining sites and still want their high-quality cappuccinos and lattes,” Downing says.

Another distinguishing factor of the Australian coffee culture is consumers’ preference for milk-based coffees. Downing says this is different to the filter or black coffee-focused American and Asian markets, or the simpler European palate.

With different people preferring flat whites, lattes, cappuccinos, and other beverages, automatics need to be capable of producing drinks with different levels of foam, types of milk, and additional options like chai and hot chocolates.

“That demand for variety begins at the café level and flows through to other hospitality and corporate sectors. The range within our portfolio and unique features of our machines really drives business in those segments,” Downing says.

Among the latest additions to Franke Coffee Systems’ portfolio is the A300 super automatic coffee machine. The machine features a compact design, standing at 27 centimetres wide by 46.5 centimetres tall. This allows the 80-cup-per-day capacity model to be installed in a number of locations.

“One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced in the corporate sector is constraint on the size of equipment. Generally, architects and designers don’t have much knowledge of coffee equipment sizes and requirements when designing a kitchen, canteen, or breakout station,” Downing says.

“Franke went into its various markets and talked with distributors, end users, customers, and architects to find a solution.”

The A300 features much of the same technology found in the rest of Franke’s A-line series, such as the FoamMaster milk and EasyClean systems. An interactive eight-inch touchscreen guides the user through a menu of six to 20 beverages, featuring photo-realistic images.

Franke’s patented heating system also allows different brewing temperatures to be set for different beverages. Further improving the A300’s versatility is the option of a fixed water connection or water tank, one or two bean hoppers, or additional bean hopper and powder container.

“The A300 was specifically designed to overcome the issues we’ve seen over many years of experience. We feel this system really hits the mark in those retail and corporate segments,” Downing says.

The A300 was first unveiled at HostMilano 2019. At the same event, Franke also previewed the Speciality Beverage Station SB1200, a counter-wide concept highlighting cold coffee options alongside traditional hot beverages. Integrated media pump modules create cold brew without needing additional nitrogen equipment, with or without crema. Milk and syrups can be incorporated to offer a wide variety of beverages.

Both machines will see a wide release in Oceania around August 2020. Downing says while the A300 offers wide appeal, the SB1200 is targeted toward certain segments with greater requirements.

“There is still a relevance to corporate, mining, and hotels, but it’s the high-volume hospitality and convenience sectors that will really appreciate what the SB1200 has to offer,” he says.

“The cold brew element is very unique in the market. If someone in a convenience environment wants to expand their beverage menu, the SB1200 can do that as a complete and self-contained system.”

A highlight of both products is their connection to Franke’s Digital Service telemetry system. This gives the owner full control of the coffee machine and an overview of data it produces. Downing says the possibility of remote maintenance saves the operator time and money.

“Franke has developed its own telemetry system, meaning we don’t rely on third party businesses. Because we’re a manufacturer, we know what our customers need in terms of data streaming and uploading capabilities. This year, we have released new features of our Franke Digital Services, which I believe are the best in the market,” he says.

“We can monitor cleaning or software and mechanical issues, which allows us to be proactive rather than reactive. If we identify a problem, we can ring our customers and walk them through resolving it, saving them the cost of calling out a technician.”

Franke Digital Services also allow operators to remotely upload data like images and monitor their entire fleet via cloud connection. Information including peak periods, beverage popularity, and best performing sites is collated and made accessible to the business owner, aiding decisions related to the menu and promotions.

“If a customer wants to use their own reporting platform, we can integrate their API with ours and they can download all that information onto their own dashboard,” Downing says. “They can develop loyalty programs for customers in the same way.”

With data collection becoming a key component of not only coffee but many industries, Downing says he anticipates the demand for super automatic machines to continue growing in Oceania.

“I don’t see the market going backwards. I see it increasing. It will always develop and evolve around customer demands for innovation, reliability, quality, and consistency,” Downing says.

“Australia in particular is a big country [geographically], so things that connect the market, like telemetry, will be a big driver.”

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