Equipment

Melitta Professional’s Crossover Appeal

Service stations and convenience stores are traditionally grouped together in the food service industry. While this is done for good reason, sometimes it is just as important to keep an eye on the different trends developing in the two as it is to know the similarities. According to Melitta’s Asia Pacific manager Justin Rejske by staying on top of the trends developing within each of the individual categories, companies can then identify which of those trends can then be easily shared across both. Rejske says that while Europe has long been the key source of innovation for the service station segment, Asian markets are now driving the development in convenience stores. “In Europe it’s been the custom forever and a day to get your coffee from convenience stores and service stations,” Rejske says. “Consumers in these markets are experienced coffee drinkers. Coffee for them is something that is taken on the go, and is not necessarily about sitting down and relaxing.” Rejske says that European service station operators have really led the way in the past decade in offering a broader range of fresh food and beverages to their customers, including a much stronger coffee offering. “The most important criteria for anybody wanting to build a solid business in the coffee industry is about quality in the cup, and the key to establishing success is, from my perspective, built around two factors: quality and consistency,” he says, adding that the developments in coffee machine technology over the past 10 years have made this much more achievable – and affordable. “In the past there was always a stigma associated with petroleum outlets serving powder-based beverage products,” he says. “That was really to do with the limitations on technology in that it was not affordable to get a good automatic machine that used fresh ingredients, so it was quite acceptable at that point in time to serve coffee with powdered milk.” That is no longer the case, with Melitta’s full range of automatic espresso machines offering an advanced milk foam system that produces consistently high quality milk foam for both hot and cold beverages. While quality and consistency is a key focus for Melitta’s customers, so too is flexibility, given the broad range of customers that are serviced through the service station and convenience store segment. That is why, as well as offering freshly ground espresso, Melitta’s machines also have a hopper for instant coffee to service those customers for whom price and convenience is the driving factor behind their purchases. In terms of the convenience store section of the market, Rejske says countries like Taiwan have really led the way. Operating in high-density areas with extremely limited floorspace, convenience store operators have nonetheless worked to maximise the use of all of the space available and offer customers an ever-broadening range of products. “What we’ve seen over the past few years is the line has been blurred between the quick service restaurant segment on the one hand and the convenience store and service station segment on the other,” Rejske says. For convenience stores, Rejske says that this has led to a growing focus on attracting customers between the hours of five to 11am, bringing them in for breakfast and a coffee. “This means that, rather than going into a quick service restaurant or through a drive-through, people are starting to come into convenience stores and service stations for their breakfast and making their coffee purchase a part of that,” he says. However, more than that, Rejske says that operators such as 7-Eleven in Taiwan are making the most of their retail space to convert their operations from traditional convenience stores into small supermarkets. “They have really led the way in turning convenience stores into micro-marts, with a really strong offering of fresh food and beverages, and that has been followed right around the world,” Rejske says. In order to achieve this, 7-Eleven has developed the City Café concept in Taiwan, which has been a key example of this type of innovation. “Their stores are in high-density areas and they take the fresh food and beverage offering, with things like fresh bread and great coffee, to the next level,” he says. Rejske says that he can see these kinds of innovations making their way beyond the Taiwanese convenience store segment in the future. “I think that, as a concept, that will be translated into the service station area in other parts of the world so that they can offer that level of convenience where the customers don’t need to go to a quick service restaurant to be able to get high-quality food and beverage anymore,” he says. Supporting the beverage part of this offering is a core part of Melitta’s business. Rejske says that, as a company, Melitta is committed to offering the best possible solution to their customers, no matter the size of their business. “We are leaders in customisation, so we pride ourselves on meeting the specific needs of each individual customer on a case-by-case basis,” he says. This means that while the size and capacity of their machines will vary, the technology inside remains the same. “This means that the customer can get a machine that is best suited to the size of their business, without having to sacrifice quality,” Rejske says. There are two key elements to the technology in Melitta machines that Rejske says sets them apart from the competition. The first is the Clean In Place feature (CIP). “As well as being able to consistently deliver a high-quality product to the consumer, the machine really needs to be easy to clean on a daily basis,” Rejske says. The HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) certified CIP system allows operators to completely clean the machine with the simple press of a button, and no manual handling required. The other key feature that sets Melitta machines apart is Automatic Coffee Quality, a system which automatically monitors the machine’s output to ensure a consistent result. “If there is any deviation in the attributes of the coffee – due to changes in bean size or the humidity in the bean itself – the machine is able to sense any changes in the coffee quantity or the coffee dispensing and adjust it accordingly so that it stays true to the recipe and we always have a consistent and high-quality product,” Rejske says. “With Automatic Coffee Quality coupled with the Clean In Place technology, you really have a package there that enables a customer to own a high-quality coffee machine that delivers a consistent product time after time.” GCR

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