When it’s time to replace your coffee equipment with the latest offering on the market, Brew Solutions Australia wants customers to think again and make sure the outcome is made with a sustainable conscience in mind.
In a time when roasters are aiming towards B Corp certification, sharing transparency reports, and making sustainable plans to lower their carbon footprint, coffee machine service and equipment supplier Brew Solutions Australia is on a mission of its own to educate customers about waste reduction.
With so much emphasis already on the reusable cup culture, Brew Solutions Service Coordinator Stacey Benjamin says more attention needs to be paid to the way coffee machines are so often “swapped out” for shiny new ones.
“We live in a pretty big throw-away society. There are too many café customers and baristas who don’t appreciate or understand the value of their equipment, and in turn, don’t necessarily understand the upkeep required to look after it. It breaks my heart to see the volume of machines that gets thrown out when they could so easily be fixed and repurposed. Quite often their end life doesn’t have to be so soon,” she says.
What’s needed, Stacey adds, is better education so that café owners and baristas can understand how to best use, care, and maintain their equipment for a longer lifespan.
“There’s often been a stigma not to play with equipment, such as adjusting the grinder, and to wait for a supplier or technician to come and look at the problem. But in many cases, it’s for a simple thing that could be fixed without a tech call-out, such as a seal not sitting properly, a blocked steam tip or a sugar packet clogging the drain hose, which we can absolutely help troubleshoot with people over the phone,” Stacey says.
Brew Solutions aim for a first-time fix mentality to avoid charging customers additional fees for things that can be easily resolved or maintained. As such, when technicians do visit a call-out case, they ask the customer if there’s anything else that needs the technician’s attention.
The other sustainable solution is regular customer preventative maintenance schedules every six months or more, depending on volume output, which allow technicians to stay on top of any potential lingering issues. Stacey says simple things such as seals and shower head replacements are better checked regularly instead of waiting to find a machine dysfunctional because it wasn’t properly maintained.
Technology is aiding the Brew Solutions team to assess potential issues. Most of its roaster and café customers are connected via an instant messaging platform to first communicate the issue, and share images and videos to measure if something can be resolved on the phone or needs immediate technical assistance.
“We are constantly thinking about how the decisions we make are impactful from an environmentally and economically sustainable point of view. If we can clean a shower screen rather than replace a perfectly useable part, it’s preferable from a cost point of view and a sustainable one. When we do replace water filters however, we bring it back to base and talk with our partners BWT about how to recycle it properly and safely,” she says.
“After the COVID-19 pandemic, small, struggling café customers might be doing their sums and realise that in some cases, regular servicing of their machine and the replacement of parts will be a cost-effective solution to keeping their workhorse of a machine operating at full capacity rather than buying a replacement one.”
While education is key to sustaining the life of a coffee machine, Stacey says there is also increasing demand from customers asking to have their machine refurbished or sold for them and facilitated through Brew Solutions.
“Secondhand two-group machines are going to be hot property very shortly. With a backlog of shipment delays, and supply chain issues for new machines, many café customers are looking at what’s accessible and cost effective. Some can’t wait and need a machine now,” Stacey says.
“We also work closely with industry professionals in Brisbane such as Dipit Kustoms to customise machines and give it a fresh coat of paint for customers to call their own. Customers soon realise they can buy a secondhand machine and spend less money making it different simply through customisation.”
Brew Solutions are proud to work with many suppliers and more than nine different brands of espresso machines and grinders. The advantage of working with so many brands, Stacey says, is not only the ability to service many different models and makes of machines, but having the guarantee Brew Solutions can source new equipment.
While further education about sustainable equipment solutions is needed, at Brew Solutions’ Brisbane-based factory, education goes both ways. Each morning, the team – consisting of four technicians gather for a session of “tech talk”. Staff run through the job list for the day, equipment and parts needed, and take machines a part to demonstrate solutions so that each technician has the confidence to tackle any job. No question is too small, no solution too complex.
“Some of our technicians have a background in electrical or software engineering and have never worked as a barista, so we’re also passionate about empowering the team with the knowledge about coffee to help the customer,” Stacey says. “We teach them about dialling in and over and under extraction, and all the necessary skills to navigate coffee equipment. Coffee industry education is available on internal platforms for all staff to access, from growing coffee right through to preparing the final cup. Education and up-skilling is a vital part of our processes.”
For Stacey herself, after a career in coffee spanning 21 years, working as a coffee trainer in cafés, big franchise chains, and roasters, she has moved into the technician world and is eager to extract as much knowledge as she can from her mentors, including Technical Ambassador Geoff Michelmore and State Manager Andrew Stacey.
“I was that 17-year-old always asking the technician questions about how things work, so I’m using any opportunity to be in the workshop learning from the team, even about things such as static relays we just had a tech talk about this morning,” she says.
Geoff and Leigh Michelmore founded Brew Solutions in 2016 as a technical service provider to Southeast Queensland, but with a core focus on sustainability. Six years later, that focus is embedded in the company culture and drives all facets of its decision making.
“Leigh and Geoff are passionate about creating a business and environment where sustainability is at the core, in the way they upskill their staff, guide employee career paths, and in the services they provide to customers,” Stacey says.
Within the Brew Solutions factory, sustainable practices are considered in the recycling of various plastics and metals, instalment of LED lighting throughout the building, refurbishing parts where possible, composting of food scraps in the lunchroom, and moving towards fully compostable or recycled packaging when sending out any orders.
Brew Solutions works alongside the Queensland Chamber of Commerce ecoBiz initiative, helping business to save money and increase efficiencies, to ensure it is working towards a more sustainable business.
“We want to have a clear conscience about our waste and our contribution to the throw-away world,” Stacey says. “It’s been refreshing to see the impact we’re having on our customers and their understanding of machine wastage. Hopefully we can continue to spread awareness, one machine at a time.”
For more information, visit brewsolutions.com.au
This article appears in the April 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.