In the latest edition of our My Coffee Journey series, we speak with Miles McKinlay, Client Relationship Manager at Connect Vending, to hear about his experiences with coffee, his career in the vending industry and why everyone should strive for great quality coffee.
What was your first experience of coffee?
My first memory of coffee was making drinks for my dad when I was 16 or 17, which I vividly remember him taking as a quarter teaspoon, no milk and no sugar. I started drinking coffee myself when I would go out with my family for a meal, and I’d order a coffee instead of a dessert. I would pick a cappuccino or a latte as I preferred the taste to something sweet after eating.
I was only really drinking milky coffees at this point, nothing black or Espresso heavy as I just found it easy to stomach at that age. Even from an early age it’s been an enjoyable experience and I didn’t really have any moments where I questioned whether coffee was something I could regularly drink.
The only thing which has changed in my coffee journey from the early years is my gradual shift away from those milky Cappuccinos and Lattes, and towards different drinks like an Americano or just a straight Espresso. The milk element can become sickly if you’re drinking it regularly and that was the main motivation for changing my habit.
How do you take your coffee, black or white?
As I say, I’ve had both at different points in my life but right now I’m firmly in the black coffee camp. I don’t take my coffee with sugar and I never have – when I was younger my grandma would tell me about her time growing up when sugar was rationed which resonated with me and made me cut it from my hot drinks. Although this was with tea, I’d got used to not having sugar in my drinks and so I can’t now drink sweet coffees!
What’s your favourite coffee?
Americano – a regular if I’m ordering out and sometimes with hot whole milk, mainly if it’s a cold winter day. Generally speaking though it’s Americano because that’s the drink I can consume regularly each and every day.
Over your time in the industry, what’s the best coffee you’ve had and from which machine?
The best coffee I’ve had in my time in the industry came out of an Evoca La Radiosa machine, but I do also appreciate the quality of coffee that you get out of Franke machines. Answering this question makes me appreciate how spoilt we are by great quality coffee and great machines.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since your coffee journey began?
Interestingly I’ve seen some slightly different trends to some of my colleagues, in that more of my clients are now asking about whether fresh milk machines are right for their company – especially with the rise of veganism and the need to cater for those with more specific dietary requirements. In reality for a lot of the clients I work with, GSM (Granulated Skimmed Milk) is perfect because of the lower maintenance overhead and the quality of GSM being high enough to still deliver a great cup of coffee.
In a similar sense, the manufacturing and industrial clients that I manage are not necessarily as bought in to the rise of the high street coffee chains, and they want something warm and wet – there will always be a place for this quick and convenient, no-frills coffee.
Outside of the manufacturing sector though, I would say that there has been a move towards high quality, highly personalised coffee and that has been driven by the growth of high street brands over the last 10-15 years. I can completely understand how employers now feel that their workers in highly urbanised areas are demanding a better quality of drink, and how it helps with recruitment and retention of staff.
How important is it for you, to be a coffee person when you’re working in this industry?
We do a lot more than just coffee, whether it’s selling and installing cutting-edge solutions like Smart Fridges, or a new Deli Café micro market, through to your standard cold drink and snack machines.
Does it help to have a passion for coffee? Yes. Is it essential for the job that I’m in? No – it’s more important that you have a thorough knowledge of all the different solutions that we offer and can find the right solutions for every client. That said, I do love my coffee and I’m extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with great manufacturers and suppliers in the coffee space.