WMF hits the hotel lobby

That hotels have upped their coffee offering is no news to Gert Rietmuller, Coffee Machine Export Director for WMF. WMF is a leader in the development of fully automatic coffee machines, and the Horeca industry (hotels, restaurants and quick service) has been an integral customer base for the German company.  “Coffee is such an important product nowadays, it’s spoken about daily even among non-professionals,” says Rietmuller. “And we all know how much profit is in a cup of coffee. For guests in a hotel, offering a quality cup of coffee will define whether they purchase another one. Good coffee improves the atmosphere [of a hotel]. Without it, there is a good chance that a customer might stay somewhere else next time.” Over the years, Rietmuller has seen hotels change their approach to coffee. Instead of being simply a part of the breakfast service, many hotels now serve coffee from in-house coffee shops. As a result, hotels are delving into the realm of espresso-based cappuccinos and lattes, drinks with far different equipment and service requirements that require a novel approach. “At peak times, hotels today are not only offering filter coffee, but customers are now expecting to be able to order cappuccinos,” says Rietmuller. “This has been a good move for our business.” WMF is a leader in the automatic espresso machine category, as the first company outside of Italy to have dabbled in the espresso machine market. Bringing to the table German automation ingenuity, WMF introduced a semi-automatic espresso machine to its range in 1954. In 1997 WMF introduced the first machine to allow its operator to prepare a cappuccino without having to change cups. In 1999, WMF was the first manufacturer to make it possible for the operator to prepare a latte macchiato at the touch of a button. The automation of the espresso-based drinks market has been good news for hotels, in providing them a way to serve these drinks without having to staff a full-time barista. “Hotels today don’t have to have a coffee professional on staff to serve consistent quality coffee,” says Rietmuller. “A five-star hotel needs to consider its reputation, there is a lot of market pressure these days in terms of competition.” As hotels have added espresso-based drinks to their offering, Rietmuller says he is undoubtedly observing the increased pressure to improve the quality and variety of their coffee offering. “And this isn’t just in the United States, this is a global picture,” adds Rietmuller. In some cases, Rietmuller has seen this pressure translate into hotels setting up branded coffee shops such as Starbucks and CBTL in their lobbies. Where these partnerships aren’t possible, bean-to-cup, fully automatic solutions are often the answer. WMF’s solutions not only cater to the requirement for an espresso-based drinks list, but offer options to profile the coffees served based on regional taste preferences. Management can set the taste profiles of the drinks, whether for Italian, Asian, or European palates, and those profiles can be programmed across an entire region or even an entire chain. It’s a level of consistency that even the best training program can’t guarantee. WMF automatic machines offer two levels of automation. The first is one-step preparation, where the drinks are prepared at the touch of a button. Two-step preparation is for hotels that are looking to offer a little more service. This is where the machine prepares the espresso shot, however the operator manually textures the milk. “It’s about a philosophy of service,” says Rietmuller about how a hotel should decide which method is best. “While the two-step offers more craftsmanship, the one-step is more automated.” WMF’s two-step system includes the 8000S New Generation. The newly developed container matrix permits the individual configuration of up to four coffee bean containers and variations with up to two powder containers for hot chocolate or milk topping. The optionally integrated Dual Milk and Active Milk systems provide that professional barista feeling, so that operators can either texture milk manually or fully automated. The machine also features an integrated milk temperature monitor, with a sensor that can report an increase in temperature. This ensures that the quality of the milk remains constant, even if the temperature of the milk inside the machine deviates. The WMF 1500S is also a favourite among the world’s top hotel chains. The system allows the automatic changeover from fresh milk to toppings, and different milk and steam systems, including Basic Milk, Easy Milk or Basic Steam. As a result, the user can provide the kind of diversity offered by a professional barista. The SteamJet system allows cups and glasses to be heated to the perfect temperature by a short jet of stream. The barista button allows the strength of coffee to be set to the guest’s preference with the single press of a button. Whatever equipment a hotel chain opts for, Rietmuller outlines that while the choice of machine is there, the question of whether a hotel should offer quality coffee or no longer valid. “The rise of specialty coffee has affected the Horeca industry just as much as it has cafés and coffee shops,” he says. “There is a lot of pressure all round. And the expectations of a customer at a hotel these days are pretty high.” 

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