Franke’s Coffee Competence Program provides training to its staff, distribution partners, and customers while IoT technology allows central management of coffee machines.
To Franke Coffee Systems, offering consistently excellent coffee quality requires not only the right coffee machine, but also a great deal of knowledge and expertise.
In order to share its own experience with customers and distributors, the Swiss coffee machine manufacturer launched its Coffee Competence Program in mid-2018. Led by Inga Schäper, who among other qualifications helped develop the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program, Franke’s Coffee Competence offers training, workshops, seminars, insights, and research made available on the Franke iQCircle online domain.
“iQCircle is a platform for exchange and exploration, where we want to bring together key opinion leaders in the coffee business to discuss new trends, ideas, and insights,” Schäper says.
“Coffee culture is evolving around the world and so are the ever-growing expectations of coffee lovers worldwide. To meet these demands and stay ahead in their respective competitive environment, our partners and customers must secure best in-cup quality day after day, cup by cup.”
Schäper says the Coffee Competence Program offers benefits to a range of customers, from single coffee shop owners to convenience store chain operators.
“What is necessary to satisfy your customers as a coffee beverage provider is the quality you deliver,” she says.
“In the Franke Coffee Competence training seminars, emphasis is placed on practical relevance, participants’ own participation, and the application of what they have learnt in coffee preparation. For example, the iQFlow Taste Profiling Workshop offers the opportunity to get to know the latest technology in practice, apply it yourself, and evaluate the results in a joint tasting session.”
Franke runs similar trainings internally, ensuring its staff and technicians are well equipped to handle any issues that may arise.
“Our service technicians can do the installation and repair of machines, but they also need to know about coffee to do the sensory evaluation of what they just implemented. This is why it’s important to give them hands-on information to be able to deal with the situation,” Schäper says.
“This program content goes further into our product development team. Coffee Competence is not just something we offer externally but feed into our research and development to create new products, coffee machines, and services.”
One such feature is the iQFlow intelligent coffee extraction, which Franke says extracts more flavour from coffee due to a uniform pressure distribution on all coffee grounds.
“Within the traditional espresso extraction concept, the maximum brewing pressure is only placed on top of the coffee cake. This is followed by an unavoidable and continuous pressure drop [as the water passes through] the whole coffee cake. As a consequence, the taste and aroma potential cannot fully develop,” Schäper says.
“Usually once water flows into the ground coffee, whether in a traditional or automatic machine, it looks for the path of least resistance. iQFlow provides a monitored and adjusted water flow, so the water comes into contact with more coffee grounds. What makes coffee quality repeatable is an equal extraction and extraction time, so we need a consistent amount of contact between water and coffee grounds.”
This monitored extraction also allows Franke’s units to closely follow pre-set recipes and profiles. In a test conducted in 2017, with more than 3000 products dispensed from one coffee machine, the target extraction times of 15 seconds per cup was reached with a variance of one second on either end with 96 per cent consistent in-cup quality.
“Multiple taste profiles from the same roasted coffee beans can be set during installation, whether for different intensities in certain taste components or even different recipes from the same roasted coffee beans for individual usage in a single espresso or milk beverages,” Schäper says.
“In a chain, the quality and desired beverage can be worked out once, and with the help of Franke Digital Services, spread across an entire fleet of machines.”
Franke Digital Services uses cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to simplify monitoring and management of a singular or multiple coffee machines. The service provides remote access to information on many factors relating to the performance of a coffee machine or suite, including resources used, revenue generated, cleaning, extraction times, sales stats, and maintenance figures.
Nils Weber, Program Director of Digital Innovation at Franke, says the manufacturer has taken a cloud-first approach to developing its machines.
“The operator has full visibility across their entire fleet. This allows them to optimise their beverage line-up from a commercial point of view and ensure quality standards. As an example, they can monitor cleaning across points of sale, and through that, improve in-cup quality as well as reduce service outages,” Weber says.
“Franke Digital Services are an integral part of the Franke solution. The tight integration of the Franke coffee machine and cloud services allows users to not only monitor but fully manage a coffee machine fleet.”
Weber says coffee machine manufacturers are moving away from one-way telemetry, where information is only extracted from a machine, to a two-way system where data and commands can be sent to a device as well. Doing this through a cloud-based system like Franke’s provides chain operators with a greater degree of flexibility.
“If someone wanted to run a promotion, they had to send service technicians to each and every coffee machine to update the pictures and drinks menu. It’s not commercially viable to do that, but if you can centrally manage your coffee machine configuration, it can be done at virtually no cost,” Weber says.
“In order to be able to react to trends and leverage seasonal offerings for a coffee concept, the ability to centrally monitor and manage a coffee machine fleet becomes an indispensable requirement.”
Weber says the degree of control Franke Digital Services offers is particularly beneficial to large-scale chain and operators, but all customers of Franke can benefit from the information IoT and cloud systems provide.
“When you operate hundreds of points of sale, you want a consistent beverage line-up across the entire fleet, and the more you benefit from an IoT system,” Weber says.
“But even for single locations, it’s quite interesting from a service perspective. Technicians can run remote health checks without being on-site for faster problem solving.”
With automation being embraced more and more across the coffee industry, Schäper says super-automatics will play an increased role, and Franke will stand apart due to its focus on training, education, and information.
“Even when you look at traditional setups, you see more automation within espresso machines. There’s software you can program and profiles you can pre-set. Some coffee machines can connect to the grinder, and changes in extraction times can alter grind adjustment. There are even devices to automate the tamping process, something typically done manually by the barista. When you add this all together, it’s almost like the barista is operating a fully automatic setup,” Schäper says.
“Making coffee is not that easy. There’s always better or worse ways of doing things, and through Coffee Competence and Digital Services, Franke enables its customers to achieve best and consistent in-cup quality all to the benefit of the end consumer.”