Incredibly, over 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. Perhaps even more astounding is that this figure continues to rise. Coffee has always been the beverage of choice for today’s mobile and urban workforce and as more and more people around the globe adopt aspiring lifestyles, the demand for high quality, fresh ground and brewed coffee constantly grows, trending away from lower quality instant products. Consequently, coffee shops, restaurants, and vending machines have never been busier. However, whereas vended coffee beverages from newer, smarter machines that address today’s market dynamics are set to take off, offering convenience, efficiency, cost savings, and up-selling opportunities, coffee shop operations are damaging profitability in many smaller shops and restaurants due to lack of controls on production. With the current procedures in place, staff can produce drinks without payment for friends and family and even commit employee fraud.
In 2007, John and Dillon Sharpley, experts in retail management systems, set out to cure this common problem by offering a solution that would return coffee shop operations to profitability. Thus, John and Dillon came up with idea to connect an espresso machine to their retail management software that could guarantee a record of all beverages produced. Working with key espresso machine manufacturers and using high quality ingredients, they brought their ground-breaking solution to the self-service sector. Their idea was so well received they formed Perk Dynamics to share their innovation with the Cafe’ Specialty Beverage Industry. Perk Dynamics has commercialized this solution, known as AutoPerk and delivered it to an industry hungry for automated production controls. Based out of Shawnee, Oklahoma, Perk Dynamics, LLC is a software development company focused on improving the process of beverage order flow to increase profits and customer satisfaction in establishments that serve coffee, tea and other specialty beverages. With AutoPerk, customers are given control to improve the consistency of each beverage, streamline beverage delivery, increase operational efficiency, and control inventory (coffee, milk and sugar type and quantity). This increases both consumer satisfaction and profits while reducing waste.
Perk Dynamics products are designed to improve customer service, streamline operations, and provide accurate real-time data. Their self-service systems are designed for hotels, hospitals, work places, and retail spaces. The team also produces a system for table dining environments in restaurants. Their self service solutions feature an integrated POS (Point of Sale) touch panel computer for ordering and payment, an automated barista for cafe quality coffee and espresso drinks, and a streamlined touchscreen queuing system. At the core of the system, AutoPerk™ software functions as the Customer Facing Self-Checkout. It carefully controls the coffee settings, ensuring the order is properly fulfilled as well as monitoring figures for sales, inventory, and other key performance indicators. Advantech’s UTC-515 Touch Computer then comes in as the HMI (Human Machine Interface) for the automated barista. A 2D barcode scanner allows customers to scan coupons and other promos while a Magnetic Stripe Reader module accepts credit cards for payment. Customers simply use the responsive UTC-515 touch screen to select their flavoring and other options for their coffee and AutoPerk takes care of the rest. Mr. Dillon Sharpley, VP of R&D of Perk Dynamics speaks to the underlying intelligence of the system, “These days, technology provides all kinds of interactive functionality, we now have touchscreen interaction and wireless connectivity, NFC and instant payments. What this means is that we can measure and control stock and therefore profit margins better than ever before. For coffee vending, this means maximum profitability without compromising on quality.”
As vending machines integrate more advanced capabilities and become more connected, new features will perhaps be incorporated like telemetry, cashless payment and facial recognition, but a perfect cup of coffee will always stay the same—let’s all drink to that.