Franke means business

Franke Coffee Systems does not compete with in-home coffee machines and has no intention of doing so in the future, says Franke Coffee Systems CEO Yvo Locher. Instead, his company’s strategy is to build on people’s expectation for quality coffee wherever they are. “It’s a different market and it’s a different way of manufacturing the machines. But in-home machines help a lot to improve the quality of the coffee industry,” Locher tells Global Coffee Review. “This high quality of in-home coffee will only help us. If there is fantastic coffee at home then you go to a coffee shop and have a great coffee and then you go to your office,” Locher says. “When you are in your office normally you get something, but it’s not what you want. So expectation will drive better quality in the workplace. We’re putting a lot of our focus there.” Locher wants Franke coffee machines to be the go-to choice in offices and small businesses around the world. “The strategy is to develop the right machine for the right size workplace,” he says. “You will see coffee more and more everywhere in the world, maybe at the doctor, the hairdresser. Coffee will be following you and you will be following coffee.” Franke Coffee Systems, a Swiss-based global brand, makes coffee machines for business, catering and hospitality. Their machines, from automated one-step units to more traditional espresso machines, provide the latest in coffee technology. Locher took the helm at Franke in January 2012 and has been busy travelling across the world to the many destinations – including Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the United States, United Kingdom and Japan – where the company’s machines are in use. The company employs more than 500 people and is one of the largest coffee machine suppliers in the world. In May he was in Australia, where Locher says the quality of coffee is already very high. “Australia is an important market throughout the industry. Australia doesn’t have a large population, but when you see the amount of coffee machines in Australia, it’s impressive. Australians drink a lot of coffee and they drink a lot of good coffee,” he says. With an Italian mother and a background in the catering and hospitality business, Locher knows what he likes, and his vision for Franke is a company that can provide the best coffee, no matter the size or style of machine. “At the moment, the more expensive the machine is, the better the coffee, especially with milk coffee,” Locher says. “But in the future we want to provide the same quality, with or without milk, and it should not depend on the price of the machine. There will still be cheaper and more expensive machines, but that will depend on the output, not on the quality.” Franke’s latest machine, the Foammaster, is designed with that principle in mind. The machine incorporates a touchscreen menu design and allows users to choose from a large array of options. The touchscreen, says Locher, is designed to reflect the way people use technology today. “The way [people] communicate with the machine is changing a lot. The user interface of the machine has to reflect what you use normally, and it should be easy to understand. People don’t want to spend two or three days learning how something works,” Locher says. Sometimes even Locher, who is an espresso drinker, says he feels like a chococino with cold foam – and Franke’s idea is to provide the best.  “I’m not going to drink it every day, but I like to be surprised,” he says of the less well-known beverages the Foammaster can produce. One of the biggest challenges for a global brand like Franke is devising machines that suit the many different types of coffee drinkers globally. “Our new machine, and the ones that we will have in the future will have the ability to deal with the demands of different coffee markets,” Locher says. “Everything is different depending on the market you are in, even the foam consistency. If you want to do a cappuccino in Italy, the foam expectation will be different to somewhere else.” Locher spent a decade on the other side of the coffee machine business, running the catering operations for Swiss railways. As a result he is acutely aware of the challenges that Franke’s customers face. One of his top priorities is to ensure that Franke coffee machines can be repaired seamlessly and quickly if they break down. “Coming from the other side of the business, breakdown is a nightmare. Breakdown should be dealt with quickly,” he says. Locher adds that the company wants to ensure that broken machines are repaired within hours, not days. Locher’s goals may seem ambitious, but he believes if the strategy is executed correctly, Franke will be able to increase its reach and continue to grow rapidly. Locher says as demand for quality coffee grows, the company will only see more interest in their machines. “I do think as awareness of good coffee increases we get more customers. The market is getting better. But you have to make sure that you understand it because even if the coffee culture is getting better worldwide, it can be very different,” Locher says. But there’s no doubting Locher knows good coffee from bad. He’s determined to continue to push coffee markets around the world to a higher standard. “Twenty years ago when I was going around the world it was very difficult to get good coffee. I remember my first visit in the United States. After three weeks there going back to Europe was so nice, I could finally get a good cup of coffee,” he recalls. “Nowadays in Seattle, in New York, San Francisco, they have better coffee, and it’s the same everywhere, which can only be good for us.”

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