Jörg Schwartze, CEO of Schaerer, explains how and why certain coffee and machine concepts are developed at Schaerer.
A one-size-fits-all approach rarely pays off when catering to a global market. In coffee, businesses in different regions or with unique clientele are unlikely to use a machine in the same way or benefit from the same features.
With this in mind, Swiss coffee machine manufacturer Schaerer puts its customers and their individual needs on centre stage to customise the perfect products and services for their business models.
Schaerer CEO Jörg Schwartze tells Global Coffee Report this process begins with finding out what the customer hopes to accomplish.
“Our flexibility is in high demand in this stage of the creation process as is our machine, coffee, and market expertise,” Schwartze says. “Often customers approach us in the very early planning stages and with only vague initial ideas of what they want.
“We then work with them until we can shape the concept into something which is not only possible to implement, but also promises success.”
Schaerer launched its new brand strategy of customisation under the motto “We love it your way” in 2019. The Select concept of the new Schaerer Coffee Soul embodies this best, allowing customers to choose the technical equipment and design considerations of their unique models.
Working with a wide range of customers – including cafés, hotels, restaurants, bars, bakeries, petrol stations, and convenience stores — in countries around the world, Schwartze says customisation has always been a service Schaerer has offered. However, formalising this as a key differentiator of the brand has allowed it to reorganise its processes and manufacturing to make it as efficient as possible.
“The external appearance and the graphical user interface (GUI) were the main things we often had to adjust to specific requirements, which is typically costly and time-consuming. Now, we have more freedom when configuring adjustments,” Schwartze says.
“While a large chain that buys a large number of machines can invest a lot of money for an individual solution, this is not realistic for small restaurants or hotels. The Select principle of the Schaerer Coffee Soul makes it possible to make optical adjustments to the machine and changes to the GUI as well as technical configurations independently of one another and for a low price.”
Altering the GUI can better equip a coffee machine to its intended users. Schwartze says the display size is usually connected to the performance class of the machine — the higher the class, the larger the touch display – but this does not always make sense.
“A coffee chain with service staff does not necessarily need a large screen which can play videos on the machine, however, it does need high performance. A small hotel, on the other hand, which offers guests self-service coffee does not need such a high level of performance, but it does need a large touch display which can also play advertisements and the like,” he says.
“Thanks to the Select principle, customers can choose between several GUI concepts. While a screen with a complex structure allows for quick selection and adjustments to beverages in staffed areas, the self-service model leads the consumer through several intuitively-operated menus. For so-called ‘frequent users’ in office spaces, there is a middle route for making daily coffee preparation easier.”
But the Schaerer Coffee Soul Select concept is only one way the manufacturer embraces customisation. Schwartze says Schaerer continues to develop individualised solutions for its customers, many of which become part of its portfolio. A recent collaboration led to the launch of the Schaerer Premium Coffee Corner ‘vending machine’ concept, while features like Hot & Cold technology or automatic grinding level adjustment are optional inclusions with Select or Schaerer’s other units.
Schwartze says the ability to adapt to new trends is a benefit of Schaerer’s global operations and relationships with customers.
“Different requirements stem from the three fields of taste, technical affinity, and local guidelines. In the United States, for example, the so-called American long black coffee is in high demand, while in Europe, espresso-based specialities are more popular. In Asia, on the other hand, milk-based coffee beverages are the trend. So, it’s completely possible that an international coffee shop chain will want machines with completely different equipment in the US than in Europe or Asia,” Schwartze says.
“That is why we adapted the Coffee Art Plus [machine] for the needs of customers in the US market. It uses fresh beans, but the end product tastes very similar to the drip filter coffee common there.”
When it comes to technical affinity, Schwartze says even the preferences of payment solutions vary greatly depending on the region. “On the European market, card readers or even cash are still dominant, but online payment is experiencing a rise in popularity, not least due to the corona[virus] pandemic. In China, on the other hand, everything is done with a smartphone — without WeChat Pay and Ali Pay, you don’t stand a chance,” he says.
“Last but not least, local guidelines can also play a role. In Asia, for example, there are areas of application in which fully-automatic self-service machines without direct contact are required.”
To facilitate this degree of customisation, Schaerer carried out a multi-level expansion of its production facilities in Switzerland. The manufacturer took measures to make its processes easy to scale, transparent, and flexible.
“We use an extremely agile shop floor concept with mobile workspaces so that we can implement complete production lines overnight or as needed,” Schwartze says. “For example, the production line can be switched from the Coffee Soul to the Coffee Art or from timed production with much higher throughput for a major order of a model with only minor effort.
“By contrast, our degree of automation is not as high as that of other manufacturers. You will not find any robots or automated transport vehicles in our production facilities. Such investments only pay off if large quantities of the exact same product are made, but this contradicts our personalisation philosophy.”
As the coffee industry continues to evolve, Schwartze sees more trends emerging in both the industry and the technology it uses.
“When it comes to international coffee trends, large beverage portions are very popular in overseas markets. Preparing these with a consistent level of quality is a challenge and will continue to occupy us machine manufacturers in the near future,” he says. “When you’re talking about technology, the main topic is digitalisation in connection with [self-]operation or central control of entire coffee machine fleets.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has created much uncertainty around the world, in the automatic coffee arena, Schwartze says it has made clear the demand for contact-free operation and payment.
“The aim here is to think ahead with existing solutions when it comes to intuitive operation, process reliability, and hygiene. The latter results in new requirements for a topic decisive for operations: fully-automated cleaning,” Schwartze says.
“We are working intensively on new solutions to speed up and simplify these processes.”
For more information, visit www.schaerer.com
This article appears in the November/December 2020 edition of Global Coffee Report. Subscribe HERE.