Drip Coffee is the lowest cost option for office coffee at $0.03 – 0.24 per cup, but because it is only made “by the pot” much of it can be wasted and add considerably to cost. This kind of office coffee is black coffee only and generally purchased in bulk. Erosion cost for drip coffee is moderate because it depends on the quality of ground coffee packs you stock at the office. Unknown or no named brands of low quality coffee are safe. But high-end name brand ground coffee packs can work their way out of the office because they will work just fine in traditional coffee makers at home.
Drip Coffee brands can make for a really good cup of coffee, but during the brewing process paper or fabric filters of any kind absorb natural oils and fats that are part of the coffee bean. The oils and fats are a significant part of the flavor, aroma and nutrition of the coffee. By filtering those out much of the richness of the coffee can be lost.
Additionally, all pre-ground coffee begins to lose its freshness relatively quickly even if vacuum sealed. This is a natural process of the bean once ground so to get the freshest taste keep beans whole as long as you can.
Bean-to-Cup brewers grind whole beans at the time of brewing to produce the freshest cup of coffee. But not all bean-to-cup brewers are created equal. Some machines simply drop those freshly ground beans onto a paper filter and brew basic black coffee. Brewing it through the paper filter affects the flavor as much as any other brewer that uses a paper filter. Other machines use stainless steel filter screens. Using steel screens rather than paper filters allows all of the fats and oils that are natural parts of the coffee bean to make their way into the cup. The additional natural ingredients make for a far richer and more robust cup of coffee. The filter, which either enhances or inhibits the brewing process, is the most important machine component to making great coffee.
The first option is that your office coffee service provider will provide your office with the equipment at no cost, but that comes with your commitment to purchase all supplies from that provider exclusively. In most coffee service situations it is difficult for the service provider to determine if, in fact, that agreement is being honored and, as a result, it is often abused. The exclusive agreement for supplies is to partially help cover the cost of the equipment that is provided to you at no cost. And while the supplies may be slightly more expensive than what your office may be able to purchase at a warehouse club, understand that the arrangement is to eliminate your office from having to purchase expensive coffee equipment that you’ll later have to maintain within your organization.
Ordering supplies on an “as needed” basis ensures you only have on hand what you really need. But it does require more of an effort by someone within the organization to monitor supply levels to be sure you don’t run out of anything. Allowing a provider to maintain those supplies for you is much more convenient and easier to maintain internally. However someone does still need to be assigned to ensure those providers are not overstocking you to meet month-end quotas. You can end up paying for stock that expires before it is used. This is not a problem with trusted providers, but if you’re bringing on a new provider be sure to keep an eye on this for at least the first 6 months, and then quarterly thereafter.
The second option is that your coffee service provider will charge your office for the equipment, similar to a monthly or annual lease payment. However this option too typcially comes with the requirement of you to purchase all supplies from that provider exclusively. While the equipment charges vary considerably by provider, the fee level is based on the sophistication of the equipment being used. Equipment fees for drip coffee or airpot brewers are generally less expensive than single cup brewers or bean-to-cup brewers. Be sure to include the equipment cost in your selection process as it will increase your cost per cup.
Hereto, if you are ordering supplies on an “as needed” basis it is important to have someone within the organization assigned to monitor the use and delivery of supplies. This will help ensure products have proper expiration dates and that your organization is not overstocked to meet provider monthly quotas.
The final common service option is the Full-Service option and primarly found in Bean-to-Cup coffee service. The machines used for bean-to-cup service are more sophisticated, but very reliable. They are generally not “set it and forget it” machines. They need to be filled, cleaned and maintained regularly.
A full-service plan means your service provider will stop by your location on a regular basis and handle the filling, cleaning and maintaining for you. You will never have to touch the machine or even turn it off. This service alleviates anyone in your office from a regular coffee responsibility.
Coffee service providers who offer bean-to-cup, full service options generally price their coffee service by-the cup. (See Pricing section.) There is no additional charge for the full-service becuase it is part of the per-cup cost, and yet still less expensive than most single-cup services.