Bunn’s modern brewing heritage

With a family tradition that stretches back five generations and can count the legendary US President Abraham Lincoln as one of its earliest customers, American coffee machine manufacturer Bunn is constantly working to balance the values of its heritage with the need for constant innovation. It is a balance that comes easily to the company that was founded as grocery store by Jacob Bunn in Springfield, Illinois, some 175 years ago, according to the company’s Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Kurt Powell. As Powell tells it, the success of the company has been built on its ability to preserve its heritage while always growing and evolving in line with the needs of the market.
It was this approach that saw that first grocery store grow into the Bunn Capitol Wholesale Grocery Company, which then developed the beverage equipment division in the late 1950s under the leadership of George Bunn. The Bunn-O-Matic Corporation was officially incorporated as a separate entity in 1963, and since that time has been at the forefront of dispensed beverage equipment manufacturers, Powell says. “Today, Bunn has embraced sophisticated new technology to meet the changing needs of the modern customer,” Powell tells GCR Mag. “Bunn’s core values of honesty, integrity, and courtesy have created a network of thousands of loyal commercial and home customers who are served by the company’s brand promise, which is: ‘A Partner You Can Count On’.”
While its global headquarters remain in Springfield, Bunn now has five additional locations across the US, as well as warehouses or offices in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates. The company’s products are sold in 83 countries, and its equipment portfolio includes a home brewer collection and a full line of dispensed beverage commercial solutions including coffee and iced tea brewers for multi-cup and single-cup use; superautomatic espresso machines; coffee bean grinding systems; dispensers for cold or hot beverages such as juice, lemonade, hot chocolate, cappuccino and iced coffee; water filtration solutions; paper filters and other related products. While Bunn has become a leader in providing technically advanced beverage machinery for businesses and consumers alike, Powell says that the company always focuses on the needs of the consumer. “When engineering our brewing solutions, we keep it simple: respond to what a customer needs for their particular serving situation,” Powell says. To this end, Bunn has developed a range of exclusive features that supports nearly every channel from convenience stores to specialty cafés to fine dining. For instance, Bunn’s Digital Brewer Control and BrewWise technologies make it as simple as possible for an operator to offer quality beverages from a sophisticated recipe and do that consistently day after day with minimal training and labour costs. BrewWise intelligence means a compatible grinder and a Smart Funnel can be programmed one time to manage repeated brewing cycles from start to finish.  “We never start the conversation with equipment requirements,” Powell says. “We always start with, and are driven by, a passion for the best quality in every cup for every occasion – from single serve needs to a stadium full of people.” Bunn is also working on taking the appeal of its equipment beyond the power of its technical capability and focus on quality. This year, the company will be unveiling a new range of machines with an aesthetic style to appeal to contemporary tastes.    “This will include more curved aesthetic designs that can be placed in a front-of-house equipment bar,” he says. “As part of this development process, we felt it was time to also present a fresh look to our brand identity that matches the modernised look of these new products.” Bunn has been a leader in the field of drip coffee in North America for many decades and has, over the past 40 years, been steadily building its presence in other markets abroad. “As we look at growth opportunities, we believe we can offer the best solutions for international markets with our wide range of brewing equipment,” Powell says. “We are excited about our recent expansions with offices and/or distribution facilities now in the UK, Shanghai, Dubai, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.” At present, Bunn designs a range of solutions to fit the needs of nearly any market and channel. This includes coffee brewing equipment that brews a wide range of volumes from one cup to more than 11 litres at a time. This range of brewing capacities then fits a number of different applications within a specific market. For instance, when customers navigate commercial solutions at, they can make a selection based on their preferred beverage or based on a preferred channel. At the heart of the success of Bunn’s brewers, Powell says, is their consistency. “Using our coffee brewing equipment and related equipment, a customer is able to produce the same quality coffee time after time, regardless of external factors such as staff turnover or peak serving times versus idle serving times in the day,” he says.   “Additionally, automatic coffee brewing equipment allows for easy adjustment with the turn of a dial or button, as opposed to manually changing variables such as water temperature or turbulence with other brewing methods. This allows for easier modification of recipes to respond to current trends and taste preferences of the end consumer.” More than simply being focused on producing the best and most capable machines, however, Bunn is constantly striving to find ways to support its customers after the equipment has been installed to properly care and maintain their equipment.  Bunn is now applying “Internet of Things” technology to its service capability. “We are closing the gap between anticipation or realisation of a service need and the completion of a service request,” he says. “We have built our BUNNLink technology so that remote equipment monitoring will show us trouble spots ahead and allow us to communicate that to an operator well before the actual service event is needed. “With today’s equipment featuring more advanced technology and systems, we must offer better ways to do preventive maintenance and time-sensitive reactive service to ensure the equipment is up at all times for our customers,” Powell says. “This requires training for our customers, service partners, and our own sales team to make sure we are able to properly support the equipment we sell anywhere in the world that our customers choose to do business.” While coffee brewers are a traditional strength of Bunn’s portfolio, the company is also focused on future developments in the coffee industry. “We feel that two trends are driving the brewed coffee segment today,” Powell says. “One is the expectation of consumers to have a better coffee, or a desire for a specialty coffee option, regardless of where they are purchasing.” Powell says that he is seeing this trend develop in convenience store environments where emerging target groups such as millennials are expecting options such as a barista station.
“They see the c-store as a destination that serves two purposes: to get gasoline or petrol and equal part quick serve food stop,” he says. As a result, Bunn has developed a total beverage solution with a focus on achieving the best results in the cup. “So this trend of consumers desiring a better cup of coffee plays right into what we do and what we will continue to focus on,” Powell says. The second trend that Powell pinpoints is the continuation of the popularity of single serve coffee. “However, we feel that the pendulum is resting at a balanced desire for the convenience of this brewing method along with the demand for a quality cup of coffee from a single serve brewer,” he says. “The difference Bunn is making today in relation to this trend is we are making commercial machines that create a single cup of coffee from fresh beans. A consumer is able to start with a whole bean, grind it, brew it, and end up with a great beverage whether it is espresso, latte, or drip coffee.” Regardless of the technology used, or the style of coffee served, the focus is always the same, Powell says. “Again, we are focused on the best results in the cup so consumers are receiving a quality coffee experience from a single serve brewing system in a commercial serving environment.” GCR

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