Schaerer’s Coffee Competence Centre has devoted the past 22 years to customer education and will continue to do so with a revised program of courses that celebrates the market’s changing needs to uphold coffee quality.
Schaerer has a global reputation in more ways than one. Not only is the Swiss manufacturer renowned for the production of high-end fully automated coffee machines, but for its education hub known as the Coffee Competence Centre (CCC).
When a group of Japanese customers from a popular restaurant chain flew to the CCC in Zuchwil, Switzerland in November 2019 to undertake its popular “360° Coffee Knowledge” course, little did they know they would be the last participants before the global pandemic brought in-person classes to a halt.
Like always, Monika Oeggerli, CCC trainer and board member of the Specialty Coffee Association of Switzerland, shared her coffee passion and equipped her guests with knowledge on coffee operations and excellence.
Shortly after their return to Japan, Oeggerli received a letter of thanks from her Japanese guests who expressed their commitment to sharing their newfound knowledge with their colleagues.
“It’s that sense of accomplishment and gratitude I hope to see again when our courses and workshops can return safely. We are waiting with great anticipation to finally re-conduct live courses and workshops and will start as soon as [it’s allowed] again,” she says. “We already have a waitlist of people.”
In the meantime, Oeggerli has been busy redesigning CCC’s training program. In line with Schaerer’s guiding slogan, “We love it your way”, the courses, like Schaerer’s coffee machines, offer customers greater flexibility and put their individuality at the centre of the experience.
“Operators today are concerned with celebrating their coffee expertise as well as individuality in addition to an extensive, high-quality coffee offering and providing guests with a special coffee experience,” Oeggerli says.
At CCC, Schaerer customers and distributors from retail outlets, coffee chains, restaurants and independent shops take advantage of its vast array of courses to suit their specific business models. New one-day courses, modules and workshops can be booked individually or as a combination, allowing participants to deepen their knowledge in the areas they are most interested in. The training programs focus on a knowledge of coffee, sensory skills and technical education in both theoretical and practical exercises at basic and advanced levels.
“Teaching the one-day 360°Coffee Competence course is my favourite. It’s a very popular crash course in the multifaceted world of coffee, from green and roasted coffee to brewing, preparation, and service recommendations. You can start right at the beginning with someone who is making their introduction to the world of coffee and see the look of excitement on their face when information clicks into gear. Their sense of satisfaction is so rewarding to observe,” Oeggerli says. “The ultimate compliment is when they then ask to attend another course.”
For those interested in a specific area of expertise, CCC offers individual modules of the 360° course, such as the Harmony of the Senses, Introduction to Brewing Coffee, Practical Roasting and Green Coffee and Processing, which can be expanded upon a full-day advanced course.
Oeggerli says education will continue to be the foundation to success, especially at a turbulent and competitive time post-COVID-19.
“A good knowledge of coffee and understanding of coffee machines and innovations are essential in order to succeed in the market. The ability to listen to customers and take their concerns seriously is also important. And, of course, enthusiasm for coffee and the talent to pass on this enthusiasm to the customer should not be missed,” she says.
Equally important is knowledge of the equipment Schaerer customers work with.
While it’s not necessary for service staff to display barista skills to operate Schaerer’s fully automatic machines, Oeggerli says it is important the person setting up the machine understands its functionalities. It’s for this reason CCC’s Machine Understanding course was developed. This one-day class gives technicians the knowledge and confidence to configure and select the parameters of Schaerer machines and adjust brew settings due to influencing factors.
“The better you understand your coffee and the equipment responsible for producing it in the cup, the better your end result will be,” Oeggerli says.
“Understanding the equipment you work on is key to identifying any issues that may arise: why does the coffee extract too slow or too fast? What will the impact on the taste profile be if I increase the brew temperature? There’s so many factors that can influence the end product. Schaerer’s R&D team have enhanced our machines with their knowledge, but it’s important we share it to empower our customers.”
Oeggerli is also excited to launch her new book The Perfect Setting to help technicians and Schaerer machine users understand the relationships that influence coffee quality. With this guide, users can make adjustments to individual taste preferences, and problem-solve potential issues in a safe and guided way.
At the CCC, Oeggerli invites customers to replicate their settings on Schaerer equipment and problem solve together. This can include tweaking machine settings to enhance espresso extraction, analysing beverage quality, creating new recipes, or conducting a blind cupping to select a new blend.
“There are many ways we can customise our solutions and educational experiences for our customers. Each workshop is different,” she says.
The advantage of using Schaerer coffee machines, however, is that it operates entirely automatically. Schaerer offers a variety of beverages and thus, the possibility of fulfilling almost any beverage wish. All parameters for beverages are precisely and individually programmed and stored in the system, from grind, coffee and water quantity, brewing temperature to milk content, milk temperature, milk foam consistency, and syrup content, where applicable.
In the year ahead, Oeggerli expects to see greater demand from consumers for dairy alternatives. As such, Schaerer has launched its new Twin Milk System to accommodate two different milk types in the one machine. The development of its patented Best Foam milk system is also an example of Schaerer’s commitment to dairy quality.
“When it was launched in 2015, it revolutionised the quality of fully automatically prepared milk foam. The result is on equal level with that of an accomplished barista. The customer can choose between several different milk foam consistencies, from solid to liquid and hot or cold, via touch on the display and thus obtain the perfect milk foam – whether for a flat white, a cappuccino or a latte macchiato,” Oeggerli says.
In the era of digitalisation, Oeggerli says multi-site coffee shops are also focused on monitoring the performance of entire machine fleets with the use of Schaerer’s Coffee Link telemetry system, as well as fully automated machine concepts with contactless operation and payment. Schaerer’s Digital Payment Solution, and 2nd screen option are both new features added to the Schaerer Coffee Soul and its successor model, the Coffee Soul with “Select” concept, to cater to such needs.
In the year ahead, Oeggerli anticipates cold coffee specialties will gain market traction. With this in mind, the Hot & Cold technology in Schaerer’s Coffee Soul machine uses a specially designed cooling system to chill the coffee between 30 to 35°C while it flows into the cup. This function opens up the possibilities for creating a large range of coffee beverages.
In the year ahead, Oeggerli also expects to see a demand for equipment with sustainable features, customised orders, and fully automatic machines that can celebrate specialty coffee. While change is inevitable, Schaerer’s commitment to education and quality coffee production will remain.
“Coffee quality results from the well-coordinated interaction of good coffee as a base, high-performance technology, coffee machine understanding, and solid coffee knowledge. That is why we at Schaerer focus on a 360-degree coffee expertise, which begins long before coffee processing and goes beyond machine technology. We incorporate this knowledge into our machine developments and share our knowledge and experience with our customers, partners and employees in our training courses and workshops,” Oeggerli says.
“Those not committed to producing a quality product in today’s competitive market, with a good quality coffee machine, will lose their customer base. Quality must be at the forefront of what we deliver. Customers are used to it. They expect it, and that won’t change.”
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