Tiger Coffee has led the adoption of coffee automation in Australia, and as the official distributor of Eversys in Oceania, will now leave its pawprints across the Pacific region.
Tiger Coffee has been an Australian distributor of Swiss manufacturer Eversys since 2012, but the relationships between the people behind both companies extend much further.
“[Eversys founder] Jean-Paul In-Albon and I first met 25 years ago in mid-1996. We worked very well together and his passing at the end of July , was a true loss. He was exceptional when it came to technology and innovation in coffee machines,” says George Miller, CEO of Tiger Coffee.
“When we sold our first Eversys machines in Western Australia, Jean-Paul came down to oversee the installation. Being so instrumental in the advent of automation in action, it was so beneficial to have him observe the market and we spent a good week together.”
Before moving to Australia in 2008, Miller made a name for himself in the United Kingdom, founding First Choice Coffee in 1987. He says the coffee machine distributor was off to a slow but steady start, with a drastic rise in the late 1990s and early 2000s as large chains began to see the benefit of automatic coffee machines.
“I started the business with nothing and ended up with one of the UK’s largest coffee businesses. We were handling all the installation, servicing, and sales for McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Greggs in the UK, and sold them thousands of machines between 1996 and 2006,” Miller says.
“We had tremendous success in the noughties because we could clearly see that automation was about to boom in the UK. Across the region, the market really shifted from a traditional, manual environment to a high percentage of automatics in all sorts of channels – like convenience, petrol, cafés, hospitals, resorts, even schools. I could see something similar was going to happen in Australia. It wasn’t a question of ‘if?’ but ‘when?’”
This journey was documented in the book Life in the Espresso Lane: The Entrepreneurial Story of George Miller and First Choice Coffee by Shirley Redpath. Miller sold the business in 2007 to focus on a new market and challenge in Australia.
“I’ve had a long love affair with Australia, since first coming here in 1969. On the last page of the book, I ask the rhetorical question: ‘Is it possible to repeat a dream?’ Standing here now, with a substantial-size, well-respected, and nationwide business, I can say that yes, it is.”
Since opening Tiger Coffee in the state of New South Wales in 2008, the automatic coffee machine distributor and service company has spread across Australia.
“What really helped us grow was that first of all, we were committed to providing a responsive and excellent service across the Australian capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to begin with, then expanding the network into Adelaide and Perth,” Miller says.
“Automation isn’t about replacing a barista. Features like two-way telemetry are unique online data analysis tools that allow for remote software integration, coffee profiling, and accommodating payment systems and contactless solutions. Tiger Coffee brings the sophisticated expertise needed to utilise the deeper technology behind these machines.”
One of Tiger Coffee’s customers is the Coles Supermarket Group. The relationship began in 2012, when 200 self-serve machines were installed in Coles Express convenience stores and petrol stations. There are now over 1000 Eversys models in the supermarket chain’s grocery and petrol/convenience stores across Australia.
“Just last week, for example, Coles wanted to add iced coffees to the menu as well as use the coffee machine’s screen to update on screen adverts while the customer selects their coffee. We carried out a software update across the whole fleet overnight without moving away from the laptop,” Miller says.
“The ability to get 1000 machines across one region and fleet working precisely with consistency and quality is an incredible feat. We’re solving a growing number of service calls just using telemetry live on a laptop, making a massive difference to overall costs and response times, which means reduced downtime, improved customer satisfaction, and the ability to extend our reach further than ever before.”
Tiger Coffee established the New Zealand business in 2009. Now, in 2021, Tiger Coffee took its reach and relationship with Eversys to the next level, becoming the official distributor of the manufacturer to the entire Oceania region. This will include the launch of a new digital and social platform to support educational awareness of automation in action.
Home to more than 14 countries throughout the Pacific Ocean, Miller says Oceania is primed to benefit from the products Eversys has to offer and support that Tiger Coffee can provide.
“Countries like Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji have been underserved when it comes to coffee in the past, but they are also home to major resorts and hotel chains. People will look to get away from urban centres and take more remote holidays once they can travel, so we’re already seeing enquiries from hotel chains refurbishing, expanding, and constructing new four- and five-star resorts across the Pacific Islands,” Miller says.
But it is not just hotels and resorts that need to consider their profitability. Miller says Tiger Coffee is seeing unprecedented demand from cafés in Australia, which have struggled through numerous lockdowns and closures and now require a more efficient way of doing business. With the quality and consistency Eversys can provide, he adds its equipment is perfect for this increasingly discerning and demanding market.
“No one size fits all, and Eversys represents a range of machines and accessories, from the Cameo to the Enigma series, which meet so many requirements and market channels,” Miller says.
“High volume cafés like Savour Café in New Farm Brisbane, which now average more than 80 kilograms of coffee every week were attracted to an Enigma Super Traditional model for several reasons including, consistency, speed, reliability as well as the look and space saving abilities of the equipment.”
The benefits of automation go beyond consistency and efficiency. Dairy alternatives are a booming trend in the coffee market, and Miller says an automatic machine can handle several milk varieties much more effectively than a single barista at volume, thanks to the undercounter 30-litre-capacity milk bladder fridge Tiger Coffee can offer.
“Another recent trend we are seeing is clients focussing on commercial outcomes, and to that point, how to reset their coffee business model to reduce cost, improve productivity and consistency, and put less stress on weekly cash flow. They’re doing this by renting, utilising periodic repayment offerings and taking advantage of government initiatives including instant asset write-offs,” Miller says.
From a sustainability perspective, Miller says automatic machines can use less electricity and water than say a manual machine which fluctuates throughout the day and wastage is reduced through greater control of the output.
“When we installed the Eversys Cameo machines in Coles, they did the maths and told us that through the improved cleaning cycle alone, we were saving them one million litres of water per year, which is critical in a drought-prone country like Australia,” he says.
While Miller predicts appreciation and understating of automation will grow in the coffee market, very few developments are required of the machines themselves, with the quality Eversys offers already matching or exceeding that of a trained barista, and a design aesthetic that suits the coffee bar.
“Eversys is the most elite of manufacturers in coffee automation, that also include semi-automatic and manual functions which is an attractive point of difference to the old-style automatics. But it’s no use buying this advanced technology without elite service and maintenance to support it, and that’s what we at Tiger Coffee bring to the table,” Miller says.
“People in coffee usually talk about automation in future tense, that it’s something that ‘will’ soon revolutionise the industry. What they don’t realise is that automation is not ‘coming’, it’s already here.”
For more information, visit www.eversysoceania.com
This article was first published in the November/December 2021 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.