WMF’s Florian Lehmann speaks style and the automatic coffee machine

Being a world-leading manufacturer of super automatic coffee machines requires a lot more than simply manufacturing clever machines. This is something that Florian Lehmann, President of WMF’s Global Business Unit, knows plenty about. Lehmann has spent his entire career at WMF. He has worked in business development, project management, and even as the Managing Director of WMF’s UK Division before returning to the company’s German headquarters to take up his current position. Lehmann tells GCR Magazine that in that time he learnt a number of lessons about how to thrive in this business. “Customer-centredness is key, so stay close to your customers and their future needs,” Lehmann says. This, Lehmann says, is what underpins WMF’s approach to its machines. “The quality philosophy of WMF stands for reliability and longevity, functionality [ease of operation as well as innovative features] and outstanding design,” he says. “WMF brings all of those attributes into every product.” WMF’s premium offering, the 8000 S, is built with this approach as its guiding principle. The machine features WMF’s “Man Machine Interface” – controls designed to be simple to understand and use in an instant, while also providing a full range of drink options and additional functionality. This includes the Active Milk system, which allows for the fully automated preparation of hot and cold milk and foamed drinks. The machine also features a timer function that allows the user to set when they want it to switch off or on again, and activate and deactivate different functions or drinks according to their requirements at specific times of the day. Another optional extra on the WMF 8000 S is a fully automatic cup tray that raises coffee and espresso cups or latte and macchiato glasses to the ideal height for pouring that particular drink. The machine also incorporates a full suite of connectivity features, meaning that all of the relevant information about the machine’s operation,  such as cup numbers and maintenance updates, can be accessed remotely. Recognising the battle that all coffee machine owners face in keeping their machine clean, the WMF 8000 S is specifically designed to make cleaning and maintenance simple, with its patented Plug+Clean milk cleaning system that cleans all of the parts of the machine that come into contact with milk and a simple disassembly of all of the other parts that may need attention. This brings Lehmann to another of his key tenets of doing business. “Deliver what you promise,” he says. In order to achieve this, Lehmann tells GCR Magazine, WMF has the largest company-owned service network in the European coffee machine industry. “WMF manages the value-added chain with its own staff wherever possible,” Lehmann says. “Design, research and development, product management, and production are all in-house at our headquarters in Germany.” With more than 80 years in the industry, WMF now operates in more than 70 countries. In order to maintain its high standards in all of these markets, the company operates subsidiaries (sales and service) in many European countries, as well as in the rest of the world. In all other markets WMF is represented by selectively chosen and factory-trained sales and service partners. Over the course of its history, WMF has delivered a strong record of innovation, Lehmann says. “Ground-breaking innovation, exceptional quality and the best-in-class service and after-sales support are the key to our success,” he tells GCR Magazine. “In 1999, WMF became the first ever coffee machine manufacturer to make it possible to prepare a latte macchiato automatically, simply by pressing a button on the WMF Bistro. With this innovation, a new coffee drink that could be prepared automatically was born.” The company’s quest for innovation has continued since, with 2015 heralding the arrival of a new suite of technologies. “In 2015, WMF launched the completely new and patented milk system, WMF Dynamic Milk, as well as the new coffee machine WMF espresso, that ushers in a new era for portafilters,” Lehmann says. These features are part of WMF’s new generation platform, which is featured in the new WMF 1500 S, itself an advance on the best-selling WMF Presto. “The new and patented WMF Dynamic Milk system marks a new standard in preparing perfect milk froth,” Lehmann says. “Depending on the recipe, Dynamic Milk offers four different consistencies for hot milk froth and up to three variations for adding cold milk froth. The result is coffee and milk creations that set new standards in variety, appearance, and taste.” At the beginning of this year, WMF also launched its brand new espresso range, which contains all of the features of an automatic machine inside the form of a traditional espresso machine. “The WMF espresso represents a revolutionary type of coffee-making,” Lehmann says. “Users can now make the perfect espresso and café crème even with little technical know-how. The whole process is characterised by complete reliability and constantly high-quality coffee – without the need for any time-consuming and costly training. All steps that require specific ability and handling in preparing coffee specialities manually have now been eliminated by WMF engineers and replaced by automatic processes. All the operator has to do is insert the portafilter, press the button, get ready for barista-class espresso. This is what we call ‘handmade automatically’.” When pressed to name the top three technologies his company has to offer, the themes of convenience and excellence feature strongly in Lehmann’s selections. He pinpoints the ability of WMF’s top-of-the-range machines to ensure consistent grammage of shots through super-fast and self-calibrating grinding times as one of the company’s key advances. Along with that are the removable and easy to maintain brew groups, and the Dynamic Milk system which, he says, is “best-in-class”. This brings Lehmann to another of his maxims. “Ground-breaking innovation and game-changing strategies are paramount for sustainable value creation,” he says. This approach is not limited to the automatic coffee machines themselves. While WMF offers a full range of fully automatic machines – from as little as 10 – 20 cups up to several hundred cups per day – the  company also offers a wide range of auxiliary units, such as chillers, cup warmers, and trolleys. Last but certainly not least on Lehmann’s list of personal rules is the reason for which the whole industry exists – and it’s not the drink or the technology that he’s talking about. “In the coffee industry people buy from people,” he says. After all, what good is the best coffee in the world if there is nobody to drink it? GCR

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