My Coffee Journey returns, this time with an insight from one of our New Business Development Executives, Tom Mitchell. We hear about Tom’s introduction to coffee as a student, and how important quality coffee is in 2022.
What was your first experience of coffee?
My first experience with coffee was back in my school days, when I was around the age of 16. We used to have an old Coffetek Vitro in our canteen area and I first took an interest in it when we hit exam season.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I really had the palate for it at the time, but a lot of my friends were drinking it and I bowed to peer pressure! It certainly did the job of keeping me awake and energised through those exams.
What’s your favourite coffee?
I drink all sorts of coffee now, so I don’t really have a firm favourite. Some days I need a double espresso, some days I’ll really fancy an iced coffee or a latte. Right now, a latte would be top of that list, but with the hot weather coming this summer I think an iced latte would be perfect!
In your experience at Connect, what’s the best coffee and which machine did it come from?
This is a difficult one – with Bean to Cup there’s never a bad cup of coffee, so it’s fine margins. It’s hard to top a Franke machine with the Change Please beans. With the amount of customisation that you get on the Franke machines, whether you’re opting for a fresh milk system, syrups or the cold drink variants, it’s hard to go wrong.
That said, the drinks that I’ve had recently from a laRhea Variplus Grande Premium have been excellent, and as far as powdered milk machines and drinks go, this is up there. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between quality powdered milk and fresh milk, so huge credit to laRhea for the quality drinks their machines are putting out.
What role does coffee play in your life?
It plays a couple of different roles. I tend to only have one or two coffees a day for now, to help me get started first thing, but it is also habit for me now, too. I do also enjoy drinking coffee when I’m not at the office, say at the weekend, when I can enjoy a nice cup of coffee at one of my local coffee shops. Part of the experience is getting out to try different coffees and coffee shops, for me.
What’s the single most important element that makes a good coffee?
I would have to say that it’s all in the grind, if we are talking about the technical side of making a coffee. Making sure the right amount of coffee is in your cup, for a tall, short or milky drink, is crucial. Having the right balance of espresso for the drink, and from the right variant of coffee beans, makes the biggest difference in my opinion.
Do you feel that workplace food and beverage solutions are becoming more experience-based and aligned to workers’ lifestyles?
This is becoming a hugely important part of workplace food and drink. I would say that the last 2-3 years have really accelerated and emphasised the broader changes that we’ve seen over the last decade. Businesses are looking for more creative ways to use perks like workplace food and drink to retain and attract talented staff.
With the High Street offering such variety and a personalised approach to coffee, organisations are now waking up to the reality of workers’ needs within the workplace. The prevalence of bean to cup coffee as well as the increase in demand for non-dairy milk alternatives, is highlighting just how much effort they now need to put into workplace food and drink to keep their staff happy and engaged.
I think this trend is set to continue over the next 12 to 18 months, and that more and more companies will be making substantial improvements to their coffee provisions in this period.
How important is it for organisations to have water solutions alongside their coffee machines?
To really enjoy the taste and flavour profile of coffee, having that chilled, filtered water available is crucial. With so much focus on improving health and wellbeing in the workplace, it’s so important to have water alongside coffee, which typically causes dehydration if you are drinking a lot every day.
Staff need to be energised by their coffee, but they also need to be hydrated to help them focus and stay productive and water coolers are absolutely the best way to achieve this.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to businesses looking at buying coffee machines, what would it be?
Always look to the needs of tomorrow, for the solution of today. I’d always recommend looking at the highest quality options and thinking about how the employees that your organisation will have in the next 1-2 years will engage with the solution.
Most organisations will lease their machines over 3-5 years, and so you need to be looking at the future before investing, as you don’t want to be revisiting half way through the term and wondering ‘what if’.
This is the same argument for futureproofing capacities – you may not have each of the machines running at max capacity day-in, day-out, but in 2 years when you’ve got an extra 20% on your headcount, you’ll be covered.