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Thread: Trouble brewing over $63K coffee machine spend

  1. #1
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Trouble brewing over $63K coffee machine spend

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Swiss-made coffee machines costing taxpayers more than $63,000 are sprinkled throughout a Federal Government department, causing quite a stir inside the Coalition.
    The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism has nine top-of-the-line Swiss coffee machines totalling $63,225.
    Four smaller machines more with an unreleased price tag were also purchased since 2009.

    Read more: Trouble brewing over $63K coffee machine spend

    OK, I'm not inviting political comments and refuse to be drawn on the politics behind this article. If it was private enterprise, it wouldn't raise an eyebrow unless it came out not long after a company downsized its staff.

    From a coffee perspective, the questions here are:
    (a)
    is it good economy to buy expensive coffee machinery for your staff (productivity, staff morale), and
    (b) would it be better to buy a super-auto in an office rather than a manual machine?

    I tend to think (a) yes and (b) yes but can see the risks.
    A few years ago, a PA bought a Gaggia Superauto for her boss's coffee (and other managers in that area, presumably) and only a few weeks later it broke down. I can't remember ever seeing it in use again.

    Discuss.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    a) The machines would have a payback period of about two weeks if they reduced the amount of staff time spent running out to cafes to get coffee. Assuming well maintained of course.
    b) The X9 is a super auto isn't it? Isn't it the one that has both auto and manual milk frothing options?
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    Original reply edited:

    Declaration of commercial interest. My own business sells and services coffee machines all over including to any govt department that wants to buy.

    a) what's important is that "the powers that be" inside that department must think it is good for staff productivity / morale otherwise there is no way known they would get involved in providing coffee making equipment to the staff. Coffee is "the new smoking" with people going out to buy a cuppa, and providing office machines is seen as a way of trying to minimise the risk of your productivity from walking out the door and down the stairs for half an hour.....
    b) from personal experience conventional machines in offices dont work. Automatics are light years ahead of conventional machines when placed in offices (if you have understanding staff) , and
    c) I could wager my right hand the machine "break down" had more to do with those operators also known as (aka) Stu Pidity and Miss Management, than any other reason....except that I'm not a betting man! Saeco autos and their many derivatives (if selected & specified properly for the job at hand) are in the main quite reliable unless you go back a considerable number of years, and of course most buyers are about purchasing the minimum cheapest machine that will work not in buying the right spec machine for the purpose.

    Hope that helps.

    Just read the artikill. About the only factual info in it would be the price tag for the machines and possibly the cost of service and buying beans. It has an irrelevant photo at the top advertising someone's brand beans (did the news service get paid for that?), and the article contains bad grammar and makes stupid references ("the senator ground the dept down about its coffee use")....gimme a break. Is the senator also going to provide us with a cost benefit analysis that shows one way or the other, if the provision of the machines saved the tax payer money in otherwise lost productivity? That for me would be the important thing, without which this is just represents another "slow news" day article and media 'beat up".
    Last edited by Fresh_Coffee; 11th December 2012 at 03:48 PM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    The X9 is a super auto isn't it?
    Quote of the day: ".....Well its automatic isnt it ??? So it should just work...."
    That would also depend on the vendor. I'm sure many a superauto would have been sold on the promise of 'no-fuss' while ignoring the impact of recalcitrant employees that Attilio mentioned


    I have seen SAs used well in a busy call centre (in 2007). I even had a quite acceptable cappucino from it that day. They were still quite operational when I went back there 6 months later. I was told someone was assigned to maintain them and they had signage up to encourage staff to use them properly.

    Yes, the breakdown at my office was definitely user error. From memory (and this was 2008), it was briefly repaired but broke down again within the same week.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Steve,

    My question re the X9 being a super auto was in response to the phrasing of your question b) which might be read to imply that the Dept. had purchased manual machines (but I now suspect that's not what you meant). I'm not under any illusions regarding super autos just continuing to work by magic.

    Cheers
    BOSW

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    Guys there is no such thing as "super auto". That was simply the name of the original model automatic espresso machine as invented and then marketed by Saeco. It was, the Saeco Super Auto, and it and its derivatives were replaced by the Saeco Magic in the mid to later 1990's and it disappeared quickly. In terms of automatic reliability, we still have a client that brings her old and very weather beaten Super Auto model in for occasional repair or service and despite that we encourage her to let us put it in the skip out the back, she wont have it.

    Thats where the tag comes from, and there hasnt been a "super auto" since that I know of, except that people inside the www keep using the model decription to refer to any and every automatic coffee machine known to man.

    The X9 is (was) the top line office coffee sector (they call it "commercial") Jura automatic coffee machine and if the principles and high level managers of Jura heard their machines being referred to as "superautos", they would have you all banished to the bleakest and harshest gulag in all of siberia !
    coffee_machinist likes this.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I better pack my woolens then

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    You have to consider the "cultural" reference or what is normal in that part of the world. ?
    coming from the UK, you would struggle to find a kettle in a office situation, you were fortunate if there was a coffee vending machine in the same block ! ( and you had to pay yourself )
    Here, it normal ( expected ? ) to have a fully equipped kitchen and "lunch room" with coffee tea, milk etc etc all supplied.
    I know the annual cost of consumables alone in our office, would put the cost of those Swiss machine's in the shade
    A coffee machine is not uncommon, and as mentioned can often be justified on reducing "smoko" time.
    So, i dont know what is "normal" in Swiss offices, but they are renown for high standards .

  9. #9
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    You have to consider the "cultural" reference or what is normal in that part of the world. ?
    coming from the UK, you would struggle to find a kettle in a office situation, you were fortunate if there was a coffee vending machine in the same block ! ( and you had to pay yourself )
    Yes...though i worked at a place in Bristol that had a machine....with an accompanying 50p honesty jar.
    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    So, i dont know what is "normal" in Swiss offices, but they are renown for high standards .
    I reckon their coffee would have a very neutral flavour.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee View Post
    Original reply edited:

    a) what's important is that "the powers that be" inside that department must think it is good for staff productivity / morale otherwise there is no way known they would get involved
    Huh? Are we talking about a government department and productivity in the same chapter? Not trying to be a smart**se but seriously, I've never seen a govt dept deliberately try and be more productive (of course they'll hire expensive consultants to talk about it and go on expensive team building weekends in Peppers resorts). Coffee machines are seen as status symbols on the same way as "he who dies with the most toys, wins!".

  11. #11
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteman View Post
    Huh? Are we talking about a government department and productivity in the same chapter? Not trying to be a smart**se but seriously, I've never seen a govt dept deliberately try and be more productive (of course they'll hire expensive consultants to talk about it and go on expensive team building weekends in Peppers resorts). Coffee machines are seen as status symbols on the same way as "he who dies with the most toys, wins!".
    And what is your basis for these assertions? Have you ever been party to decision-making within such organisations? There's no denying that organisation where there is no hard market incentive for profit are typically less efficient than others, but it's drawing a very long bow to suggest that management in these organisations don't try to be more productive. I'm not a public servant (and never have been), but I know a few very senior ones, and they would put many (not all) of my private sector colleagues to shame in terms of their effort, ability and dedication to service. There are plenty of lazy ones of course, but trite generalisation really aren't very helpful.

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Guys there is no such thing as "super auto".
    Well it's become a fairly generic term, not just on CS, to refer to the push-a-button automation of the coffee-making process and I haven't seen a more apt term yet.

    My question re the X9 being a super auto was in response to the phrasing of your question b)
    Question (b) is about whether it is better to have automatic or manual coffee machine in an office. We all know that neither will be used properly by some staff. I'm sure we've all seen kitchens with instant and tea bags are the only options abused: teabags left in the sink; coffee granules in the sugar; open a new carton milk rather than use one already opened.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    Well it's become a fairly generic term, not just on CS, to refer to the push-a-button automation of the coffee-making process and I haven't seen a more apt term yet.
    Instinctively, I agree...but then, if you think about it....the term 'automatic' seems perfectly sufficient. Particularly if one views something like a Saeco Magic or equiv as semi-auto.

    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    Question (b) is about whether it is better to have automatic or manual coffee machine in an office. We all know that neither will be used properly by some staff. I'm sure we've all seen kitchens with instant and tea bags are the only options abused: teabags left in the sink; coffee granules in the sugar; open a new carton milk rather than use one already opened.
    No worries, I was just explaining my own initial reply to your OP.

    How about finding a Lapsang Souchong teabag abandoned inside the kettle? Makes for a great tasting aeropress coffee.

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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    As 'FC' says above, talk about slow news day, the article is ho hum and bunkum. I don't think we need to comment on the politics other than to say it's a feeble attempt at pandering to the insecure types who think there is something inherently wrong about a good or decent cup of coffee.
    It smacks of tall poppy.

    To me, it's more about the political agenda of the press and the tendency of most sectors of the press to sensationalise a topic by only providing half the facts.
    To most ordinary people, 100k is a lot of money, so it becomes easy to manipulate the opinion of the majority, what is not provided is the other side of the maths.
    Playing around with the known figure of 37k (spent on coffee) shows some startling results, starting with how many cups are likely to have been made.............

    Come on Canberra Times, give us all a break. I'll have mine with a coffee, thanks.

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    .... it's a feeble attempt at pandering to the insecure types who think there is something inherently wrong about a good or decent cup of coffee.
    It smacks of tall poppy.
    Perhaps you should read the article again. It's about claims of excessive government spending

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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Every article, like the one in question, has a sub text........... I'm just going beyond the shallow, facile and obvious.
    By the way, I read it about 4 times.
    So don't bother telling me I should have read it 5 times 8-)
    Last edited by chokkidog; 11th December 2012 at 11:41 PM. Reason: post my own retort

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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    Perhaps you should read the article again. It's about claims of excessive government spending
    "Given Labor's promise to rein in spending and exercise fiscal restraint I would've thought one of the first savings measures would've been swapping the taxpayer-funded macchiato, latte or mocha for a tin of instant blend and a kettle."

    Read more: Trouble brewing over $63K coffee machine spend

    Or perhaps take your own advice

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    What does a tea lady/man cost?

    say $35k pa. Throw in 20% on costs that's $42k pa
    Now this tea lady/man would work 38 hours per week.
    Most govt departments would work longer hours so you'd need another part time, so now we are up around $60k in wages alone.

    Buying a automatic machine may save costs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPECTRE View Post
    What does a tea lady/man cost?.
    Not many organisations can justify that kind of role these days ! ........................sadly!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    I recently retired from the Public Service after 40 years in a big variety of State and Federal Departments at various levels.
    I never worked in a Department where tea/coffee/milk was provided by the employer. It was always managed by the Social Club.
    There was usually an electric jug or a ZipBoil provided and occasionally in recent years, a Dripolator.
    For many years I provided my own dripolator, coffee etc for my work-related meetings. In more recent years the 'makings' got charged to my Corporate Card.
    Public Servants are no more lazy than anyone else. It's about the individual and their work ethic, not about where they work.(I have also worked in Private Enterprise)
    I would not dare provide a coffee machine in any workplace without providing a skilled person to operate and maintain it. It would be stuffed in nothing flat.
    If staff pull their weight I have no problem with them going out to get a cup of decent coffee - as long as there is no negative impact on service to the public.
    As has been said, the article was 'filler' quality. I would want to know more about how the machines were used - eg. hospitality etc. Some Departments do more of this than others. When you are regularly hosting meetings and training it makes sense to have certain facilities.
    The only times I have seen 'flash' fittings and facilities is when politicians were involved.

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    I guess the point here is that the government department wouldn't be paying for their staff's latte's at the local coffee shop. And technically if a staff member goes on an excursion to get a coffee it should be on their time (even though its a healthy thing to do). So not buying the machines WILL save the government.

    BUT seeing as coffee from an office auto machine (if you can drink them!) is way more economical then coffee's from a coffee shop, the solution would be to simply charge staff the 'cost' price of the coffee (~ 50 cents). Problem solved!

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    Senior Member csutak40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    Public Servants are no more lazy than anyone else. It's about the individual and their work ethic, not about where they work.(I have also worked in Private Enterprise)
    I have to agree. I, too, have worked both in Private Enterprise and in Local Council. There are always people who have a talent for getting away with doing very little and others who end up having to pick up the slack.

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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I was at a Federal government department (that worked early morning and late night shifts) where the accountant - who loved coffee - had a 2 group machine installed, way back in 1991! It was self-funding, as we all had to pay for our each coffee we took (although it was cheaper than retail). There was absolute hell to pay - not from anyone outside, but from others in the organisation (in other states and buildings) who were stuck with instant! The machine went soon after ..... ... just as I went on to late, late shift ....



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