Consumers are now incredibly discerning when it comes to coffee, largely thanks to the availability of espresso-based drinks on every high street. Restaurants, hotels and even pubs are taking the lead from high street coffee shops and making espresso-based drinks available to customers.
While a dedicated coffee shop will most likely invest in traditional espresso machines operated by trained baristas, not every catering operation can follow suit.
The good news, according to Roger Ahearn of coffee machine supplier Espresso Essential, is that they don't necessarily need to in order to achieve current retail prices of above £1.50 for a cup of coffee.
"You don't need a large amount of space to produce good-quality coffee and it's not always necessary to have an army of trained baristas on hand," he says.
"Automatic machines have moved on in terms of appearance, quality and capability. With the credit crunch affecting so many businesses they can be a lower-cost option in terms of staff and running costs, and the machines themselves are also often less expensive to buy."
Espresso Essential will be demonstrating its Bambino fully automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine at Northern Restaurant & Bar 2009, which takes place at Manchester Central on 30-31 March.
Buy It! has teamed up with Espresso Essential to offer readers the chance to win a Bambino fully automatic bean-to-cup coffee machine worth £2,600.
HOW TO ENTER
One lucky reader who can answer the question that follows correctly will win this amazing prize. All entries must be submitted on a postcard by 15 April 2009. Entrants should include their name, job title, company name and address, and contact telephone number.
Send entries to Buy It!/Espresso Essential Competition, Caterer and Hotelkeeper, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS.
At what level are current retail prices for a cup of coffee?
a) below 50p
b) above £15
c) above £1.50
The winner will receive a newly designed Bambino fully automatic bean-to-cup machine capable of producing up to 60 drinks per hour. Options include latte, cappuccino, mochaccino, espresso long, espresso short and hot chocolate.
There is also a hot water facility for tea and the machine is fitted with its own water tank to allow it to be positioned in a wide variety of locations. It has a small space requirement of 350mm x 430mm x 780mm. The Bambino is suitable for many types of business - typically sandwich bars, hotel receptions and golf clubs - and can have a coin mechanism fitted to enable it to be used for customer vending.
For further information on Espresso Essential call 0800 731 2980 or visitwww.espressoessential.co.uk