Love coffee, hate vending?

There is a surprise hidden behind the doors of vending machines – and the results may please even the most ardent coffee lover

There is no doubt that a bad reputation can be difficult to shake, and vending has a chequered past.

The UK has become a coffee-loving nation, with coffee shops at its heart. However, the best-kept secret in coffee might just be discovered somewhere unexpected.

The coffee revolution hasn’t only hit the high street, it’s also changed what happens behind closed doors; inside a vending machine.

All the usual favourites – such as latte, cappuccino and Americano – are available at the touch of a button. As every coffee buff knows, a great espresso is the base of all other coffee drinks and it starts with the beans. Not many people realise that a great many vending machines are now filled with fresh beans, and make drinks using a grinder and high-pressure brewer – you just can’t see it all happening.

The process in the machine is the same as behind the counters of the nation’s coffee shops. When the button is pressed, freshly roasted whole beans are ground to order for every individual drink. The coffee is tamped before the full taste is extracted with filtered water under 12-bar pressure, releasing the rich oils and aromas.

While the science is in the machine, the art comes from the experts who set up and care for them. Each drink has a carefully crafted recipe, calibration is set by hand and brewing times are exact, blending the ingredients to create a range of espresso-based drinks. For a milky latte or cappuccino, real milk is prepared before being added to the espresso.

Selecta is Europe’s leading vending supplier. Andy Mee, managing director (UK and Ireland), says: “Essentially, it’s like having a barista inside the machine serving a great quality drink at a lower price than a coffee shop, without the queue.”

If you love coffee, try vending; you might just love it too.

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