Seymour Valentine has demonstrated how the B&I refreshment market is changing by appointing the UK’s first ‘vending barista’.
Meet André Boti Bernardo, (pictured), a Brazilian born and bred who, having spent several years as a barista in Italy, joined Seymour Valentine in August 2013. He’s based on the premises of a client in London’s trendy West End, whose workforce of 430 people is employed in the online gaming industry. His remit is simple: ‘keep the customers satisfied’.
André is surely a forerunner of things to come in the vending industry; some day, every B&I site will employ a vending barista of its own. Frankly, the man is a coffee fanatic, which is hardly surprising, given his background. So what’s he doing working in an office, when you’d expect his natural habitat to be in an artisan coffee shop?
Like a swan? Elegant above the surface, efficient beneath
‘It’s because I love it here’, he says with a smile. ‘I have a large customer base that relies on me to make sure their coffee is always perfect.’ The attributes and attitudes of a barista are more relevant in this busy environment than those of a traditional vending operator: André describes his daily routine. ‘It’s all about having a keen eye for detail’, he says. ‘This is a twenty-four seven site, so the first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is check that the machines are all running smoothly and that there have been no problems during the night. Next, I collect the fresh milk, which is delivered every day, and then I set about cleaning the machines.’
Cleanliness is everything. ‘It doesn’t matter if the machine you’re using is an automatic or a traditional model’, André says, ‘if it’s not perfectly clean, you’ll never get great tasting coffee.’ The basics having been achieved, his keen eye for detail comes into its own. ‘The coffee beans must always be fresh’, he says, ‘and the grinders have to be set carefully, to take account of the ambient conditions.’
The prefect espresso – note the double sided glass.
The site has three TopBrewer units installed and each has two grinders: one set to grind beans to a fine consistency capable of delivering the perfect espresso, the other delivering a coarser product that’s ideal for cafetières.
The beautiful, patented stainless steel tap is designed to be built into any tabletop. The simplicity of TopBrewer, designed in Denmark by Scanomat, fits elegantly into any surroundings, allowing customers to focus on the quality of the coffee, rather than the loook of the machine.. The TopBrewer brews a perfect cup of fresh-bean coffee – every time.
One patented part of the system is ‘the smallest milk foamer in the world’. The foamer is installed at the very tip of the coffee tap. Fresh milk is heated ‘on demand’ and foamed to the correct texture. The Scanomatic milk clean system of TopBrewer cleans all hoses with water after each cup. What’s more, TopBrewer provides chilled drinking water, cold milk, hot water for tea and even steam.
You can see a video of TopBrewer in action by clicking here.
‘Top Brewer is a great coffee system and it’s perfect for locations such as this one’, Andre says. ‘The workforce is made up largely of young people who are all very tech-savvy and who are all coffee aficionados. They’re very demanding in terms of taste and consistency so the coffee has to be top-quality; but because of their jobs, the noise generated by a conventional bean-to-cup or traditional machines wouldn’t be acceptable. The great thing about the Top Brewer system is that all the ‘working parts’ are out of sight in a cupboard so the operation is almost silent and all the customer sees is the tap, the swan neck and the iPad, which is used for ordering.’
Bob, Andre and Cevat
Out of site, the freshly-ground coffee is delivered into a container where, mimicking the role of the barista, it is tamped to perfection; before water is forced through the cake with 9 bars of pressure – in exactly the same way as a traditional machine operates.
Because the iPad is the nerve centre of the operation, customers can download an app to their smart phones or tablets, which enables them to connect to the Top Brewer via Bluetooth
Because the iPad is the nerve centre of the operation, customers can download an app to their smart phones or tablets, which enables them to connect to the Top Brewer via Bluetooth. This means that each customer can ‘save’ their custom drinks settings and order their beverages remotely. It’s a facility that’s been enthusiastically embraced: within days of the go-live, customers were publishing ‘selfies’ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and extolling the virtues of ‘great tasting, hi-tech coffee’ that they could control from their phones. ‘It really has captured the imagination’, André says. ‘Customers can create bespoke drinks by controlling coffee strength, sweetness and even foam content and they don’t have to programme their requirements every time they want a drink, because the app remembers them.’
The location has three TopBrewer units distributed across three floors, with complementary cold drinks and snacks machines to complete the refreshment offer.
Employees here are working for a company that’s been voted in the country’s ‘Top 50 firms to work for’ and not surprisingly, staff well-being is at the top of this client’s business agenda. Coffee – served in specially sourced, stylish double walled glass cups imported from Denmark – is on free vend, and so are other items, such as fresh fruit and Innocent Smoothies. From January 2014, snacks will be on free-vend, too. ‘Twenty-five percent of all snacks dispensed on site are classified as healthy’, André says.
iPad ordering system
Apart from his knowledge of coffee, André has other traits that distinguish him from your average on-site vending operator, most notably his ability to interact with the diverse workforce in any of four languages. ‘I speak Portugese, Spanish, Italian and English’, he says, ‘and I’ve decided that I ought to learn Russian next – there are a lot of them around here!’
His friendly relationship with his customers is obvious. As you watch him at work, people come to say ‘hello’, shake his hand, high-five him and pass the time of day in their native language. He’s without doubt a popular addition to the working environment – and not just because his coffee is perfect!
It’s an eye-opener to witness what Seymour Valentine has achieved by re-writing the spec for the role of on-site operator. When you witness André in action, you can’t help but think, ‘someday, all vending at work will be this way.’
*Like the look of TopBrewer? Wait ’til you taste the coffee! Contact us!