Eversys and Iovent explore limitless possibilities

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Eversys and Iovent join forces to put self-service coffee in the spotlight thanks to algorithms, software integration, and a market based on convenience and great coffee. 

Imagine walking into your local coffee shop and having the coffee machine recognise your face. The interface then asks if you’d like the same order as the day before. If the response is “yes”, the order is made. If you’d like something different, then you can indulge the machine in the exact type, size, and temperature of your beverage before you pay, collect, and walk out the door.

“It’s not such a remote concept. There may even be a time when people control a coffee machine with their hand movement or even through their individual retina. The future in terms of connectivity is limitless,” says Eversys Chief Commercial Officer Kamal Bengougam. “The future is about making transactions simple and seamless to deliver great coffee, anytime, anywhere.”

Coffee shops around the world are tapping into automation and the more visible it is, the more accepted it becomes for consumers to use. True Bird micro café in the United States has reinvented the vending environment and Know in China is using robot arms to produce latte art as good, if not better, than some humans. Beat in South Korea, and Roasting Plant in the United Kingdom are just some of the other venues that have discovered how to successfully integrate automation into coffee-making while leaving humanised greetings up to the barista. 

Over the past few years, self-service German interface company Iovent has formed a strategic partnership with Swiss manufacturer Eversys to create the algorithms, interface and software integration of new products currently in development.

Iovent CEO Sebastian Huber first saw the potential for automated coffee production about three years ago and created an under-counter system using an Eversys super automatic machine. This setup hid the machine and put the coffee on centre stage with a simple tap to dispense the liquid, and an iPad to control it.

Iovent is working with Eversys to develop software that will enhance the user experience.

“The API (application programming interface) from Eversys made it possible because it meant we could talk to the machine and use it as a coffee factory to customise each order,” Huber says.

The under-counter machine was initially presented at an industry show in Stuttgart, and Huber was stunned by the volume of people who asked, “but how do we pay for the coffee?” The prototype was designed for office and gastronomic use. He hadn’t considered it would be the perfect solution to the self-service coffee market.

“At the time, we were operating on a Windows system. We had no clue how to connect it with any payment system. There was no coin exchange or in-built credit card with a USB plug,” Huber says.

As luck would have it, by September 2019, Microsoft published a framework that now enables Iovent to run software independently from the coffee platform. Huber says he now has greater opportunities to work with Eversys to create self-service environments. This means customising external interface screens, adding shopping cart features, enabling contactless transactions, providing full payment options, and monitoring telemetry data.

“When you look at the success of Apple, Google, and Amazon, the biggest capital/asset they have to work with is data. Gathering data is something we’re really focused on now and creating a big data warehouse where we gather the information from all the transactions. If we can determine who bought the coffee, where and when, find out why they did, even think about using facial recognition technology to get to know the customer without their name, then we’ll be able to get a better understanding of beverage preference country by country,” Huber says. “The more data we gather in the end, the more intelligent the system becomes.”

Aside from customers wanting advanced technology and creative design from a coffee machine, Bengougam says in-cup quality can’t be overlooked.

“I think the winners of tomorrow will be the companies that deliver a consistent quality in the cup – the quality of the product has to be the foundation of everything. It’s not just about the speed of service, but that what you’re getting in the cup is the same quality you would get if you went to a coffee shop. When I look at automaton, it’s not there to replace the barista. It’s there to provide a real service, and add value to them,” he says.

“When you look at the world of automation, in Australia for example, you currently have mechanical tools that help the barista. You have machines that grind and tamp the coffee and texture milk on their behalf. At the end of it, what does the barista do if the machines have taken care of all the variables? Technology is only a means of facilitation that enables customers to have access to great coffee.”

A coffee machine cannot taste so it is not meant to replace the human palate. It cannot create emotion, but it can produce a consistent quality cup in large numbers, and that, Bengougam says, is the reason why more people should support automation. 

“There is nothing more relevant or more important than making people feel welcome, and that’s why the machine will never replace the barista. The role of a human is not to be a factory worker producing routine coffee product, but actually creating that level of humanity, then let the machine do the work,” he says.

In today’s fast-moving environment, Bengougam says companies are investing in products that make our lives simpler. From food delivery services to online shopping platforms like Amazon, a business based on flexibility, businesses are creating environments that mirror the desires of customers. That level of convenience is extending into the coffee market and helping it advance at the same time.

In Coles supermarkets in Australia, Eversys machines are being rolled out across the country to provide customers with a high-quality and convenient way to enjoy their coffee. But beyond that, Eversys imagines an unattended self-service station where customers can make their purchase in a single transaction and add peripheral products.

“The new software Sebastian and his team are integrating will allow customers to customise their order before being prompted if they’d like anything else, such as a donut or croissant. Then you have one point of purchase, a single transaction. The user has absolute flexibility, choice and control,” Bengougam says.

“It’s all about technology mirroring the human experience and making it more efficient, that’s all we do. We’re creating an environment that we believe meets the current needs of the people and of today’s marketplace, without any deterrence to quality.” 

Eversys has always recognised the importance of technology and used it as a means to differentiate itself from competition and add value to the market. Thanks to its in-house software development company Delisys, its machines stay at the leading edge of market development. It was one of the first companies to create a touch-screen interface and integrate telemetry systems into its coffee machines, and now, working with people like Huber at Iovent, is recognition that automation will represent a greater share of the market in years to come. 

“Integration between technologies is becoming more and more important and relevant,” Huber says. “Automation has only really been used in the automotive industry and now we’re beginning to see it adopted in other industries. We have proven that we can use robotics in environments without causing any harm, and I believe it will become part of our ‘new norm’ in our coffee world too.”

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This article appears in the November/December 2020 edition of Global Coffee Report. Subscribe HERE.

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