Melitta Professional Coffee Solutions takes coffee on holiday

There was a time when many hotels saw a disadvantage in providing a quality coffee offering, recalls Oliver Welschar, Key Account Manager International for Melitta Professional Coffee Solutions. “Very often, coffee was seen as something that a hotel must offer,” explains Welschar. “It was part of the breakfast service, available as a large bulk brew. If it wasn’t good, the hotel would save money because people would only have one cup, or nothing at all, and would make their way to the nearest Starbucks.” Welschar says, however, that in today’s competitive market, this “old-fashioned way of thinking” could be detrimental to a hotel’s ability to draw repeat clients. A frequent traveller himself, Welschar says the quality of a hotel’s coffee leaves him with a lasting impression, one strong enough to draw him back to that chain. He says there are an increasing number of people like him worldwide who are appreciating better quality, thanks to single-serve systems and general trends in specialty. As a result, a hotel chain today has a lot to gain from guests choosing to stick around for an extra coffee or two. “Today, the quality of a coffee can be considered the second most important consideration after a bed,” he says. “Many guests will check into a hotel, spend the day out visiting or at meetings or a conference, and not make their way back to the hotel until after dinner. But they will almost always stay for breakfast and have a coffee in the morning.” As a guest, Welschar says that the advantage of staying in a globally recognised chain is that you can anticipate a certain level of service. Coffee has now become an integral part of those expectations.
Depending on the market, Welschar says guests not only want a quality coffee offering, but also a range of espresso-based coffees. “It’s different between markets,” he says. “Of course in Italy, they have expected quality espresso for a while now. However, even in markets like India, hotels that are advertising international standards have to provide the same in their coffee. Coffee culture is a bit like a virus, we bring it everywhere we travel.” To provide a variety of espresso-based drinks, hotels have two machine options. The first is a traditional espresso machine. The tricky part here, says Welschar, is that these machines require trained baristas, something most hotels struggle to resource. “With traditional machines, it’s necessary to have trained staff,” he says. “It’s quite challenging in this case to set a standard at headquarters. Staff at hotels are constantly changing.” Traditional machines also make it difficult to keep track of expenditures. Not only is coffee wasted through dialling in grinders and checking parametres, but it’s next to impossible to keep track of how much coffee baristas are using per coffee shot. “A hotel will never know how much they are really spending on a cappuccino,” says Welschar. A popular option for most hotel chains are fully-automatic machines such as those available from Melitta Professional Coffee Solutions. These machines help hotels keep track of their bottom line by measuring the cost of each coffee served. “You know exactly how much you’re spending on each coffee. Bookeepers love these machines,” jokes Welschar. The major advantage with fully-automatic machines is that quality is guaranteed with minimal staff requirements. As modern fully-automatic machines are controlled by intelligent software, standards can be set at headquarters, carried around on a hard drive, and copy and pasted at every hotel. With hotels often using the same coffee beans across their locations, this means that a hotel’s entire chain can offer the exact same coffee, no matter where the guest is staying around the world. What’s particularly remarkable about the Melitta system is the machine’s ability to recognise and correct itself whenever set parametres aren’t met. In its newly released Melitta Cafina XT series, the machines feature the company’s unique Automatic Coffee Quality System (ACS). The system is the equivalent of having a highly trained head barista on every machine, as it continually monitors and regulates relevant parameters, such as coffee grind, dosage, brewing time and water temperature. For instance, if a parameter is set to have an extraction time of 20 seconds for a 7-gram shot, the machine is programmed to remember the height of the tamped coffee in the filter basket. Across three coffee shots, the machine will pick up on anything more than a 5 per cent difference. When it does pick up on a variance, the machine will stop and automatically readjust the grinding blades. The blades themselves are specially polished, durable tool steel. The disks will adjust themselves automatically to compensate for increasing wear, or changes in the coffee. Without this technology, Welschar says a hotel is dependant on operators to notice shortened or lengthened shot times or – worse case scenario – negative customer feedback. “Often, no one will pick up on a difference until a technician checks on the machine months later,” he says. “And even then, they have to physically unscrew the grinders to manually adjust them.” Thanks to technology like this, Welschar compares Melitta design and craftsmanship to that of a luxury car. “While cars might all run the same after 1000 kilometres, it’s how the car runs after 100,000 kilometres that makes the difference,” he says. Quality craftsmanship and the ACS system guarantee that the Melitta coffee system will continue to provide the same quality in a cup, even after years of use. Another stand-out feature of the new XT series is its small footprint. At just 30 centimetres wide, the machine was recognised for its compact and sleek design by two international juries, who awarded the machine the IF Product Design Award 2014 and Red Dot Award 2014. Welschar explains that Melitta considers the design of the machine paramount to the overall coffee experience. “To enjoy a coffee, you have to enjoy the environment. If the coffee comes out of something that looks like a dishwasher, chances are you aren’t going to enjoy it,” he says. “We are visual beings. If we see something and we like it, we are more likely to enjoy the taste.”

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