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If you are thinking of providing your staff or guests with delicious, convenient, hot beverages at just the click of a button, then perhaps renting, leasing or purchasing a coffee vending machine is wise. Deciding upon a suitable machine for your needs can, however, prove tricky, especially considering the diverse range of makes and models available on the market.

Continue reading our purchaser’s guide to help you determine which coffee vending machine is best for your circumstances.

Business needs

Primarily, the vending machine you choose must meet the needs of your business or establishment. There are many reasons as to why you might want to invest in a machine, such as boosting staff productivity, generating extra revenue, or enhancing guest experience. Whatever your reasons may be, the type of machine you choose will be of paramount importance, as some machines are better-suited for particular objectives.

For instance, if your core reason for wanting a vending machine within your establishment is the enhancement of guest experiences, then a barista-style coffee machine, which is capable of dispensing high-quality beverages, might be best suited. On the other hand, if your goal is to quickly serve a large office full of employees in order to boost morale or productivity, then a floor-standing, self-service vending machine, which has to ability to instantly deliver hot beverages, may be preferable.

To understand what matters most to staff or guests, carry out a survey to get a better idea of their wants and needs. Not only will they feel appreciated, but it will also instil confidence in them that you are listening to their thoughts and thus making the right choice.

Location

Location is an important factor when making a purchasing choice, as vending machines come in all different shapes and sizes. Before you decide which type of machine is right for you, it’s wise to establish the optimal placement area.

Will you get enough footfall there? Is the space physically big enough for the machine you have selected? Will the vending machine location cause disruption to normal workflow or foot traffic? These are the sorts of questions you should be asking yourself before making a choice.

The size and shape of the machine should also be a factor since vending machines vary greatly. A stand-alone drinks machine is normally about the size of a regular phone box in height and width, which may not be appropriate for small spaces. Likewise, a table-top vending machine will require a place for it to stand, so bear that in mind when doing your research.

Budget

Costs will, of course, play a significant role in the selection process. It is important to point out that renting, leasing or buying a vending machine will not simply involve a one-time fee. Vending machines require on-going management and maintenance in order to remain in good working order.

If you decide to purchase and manage the machine yourself, then there are several costs to consider, including energy expenses, staffing, product purchasing, and repairs and maintenance. It is, therefore, often easier and more cost-effective to rent or lease a machine from a UK supplier, like Vending Sense, which offers a fully-managed service.

Machine type

Coffee vending machines normally come in four main types; freestanding, table-top, bean-to-cup, and fresh milk coffee machines.

Freestanding vending machines typically dispense hot beverages into a cup, which is provided within the machine itself and must be re-stocked. Table-top machines, on the other hand, normally feature reusable cups.

Bean-to-cup and fresh milk machines may be freestanding or placed on a table-top. These machines provide quality beverages, which are ideal for small or medium-sized offices, where employees are looking for barista-quality coffee!

Other machines use powdered milk, which means you do not need a fridge. These machines are better for high quantity establishments and places where there will be a lot of footfall. They require less maintenance and management, only needing to be re-stocked every now and again. Besides coffee, you might find other hot beverages available, such as tea and hot chocolate.

Supplier

Once you have decided upon your machine type, budget, business needs and location, you will want to choose a suitable supplier. The supplier you select can mean the difference between a successful investment and a not so successful one.

Generally, you will want to find a supplier that is trustworthy, understands the business and provides an excellent level of service. Quality of service is especially important if you are going down the fully-managed vending route because your relationship with the supplier will be on-going. The supplier will also be responsible for installation, management, and maintenance and repairs of the vending machine.

Additionally, green practices are becoming more and more significant, with many businesses now looking to improve their environmental impact. As such, choosing a supplier with vending machines that are energy efficient and use Fair Trade coffee products, is another factor to consider.