Through Our Eyes: Bean to Cup and the Evolution of Office Coffee

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This month we hear from Matt, our OCS Director of Sales Operations based out of Birmingham, about how bean to cup and single serve coffee offerings are changing how we consume coffee.

What’s the difference in bean-to-cup and single cup?  In some ways nothing – they both generate a fresh cup of coffee in well under a minute for the consumer to enjoy.  No waiting for a full pot to brew.  No cooking of the coffee on a burner, making it smell like bad popcorn, and taste like, well, enough said.  So there’s value to single cup in general, but why is bean-to-cup making so much noise now (no pun intended)?

It may have something to do with our ever increasing desire to see the “whole” of things that we take into our bodies.  Perhaps the reason is more connected to our desire to understand more of the process of consumables – transitioning from one thing to another, almost in front of our eyes.  Maybe our demand of “freshness” is the driving factor in the bean-to-cup success.  My guess is it’s all of the above, and probably more.

Even bean-to-cup doesn’t take us ALL the way back to “wholeness” of the coffee bean.  Many don’t know that the coffee bean is really the seed of a coffee cherry – that’s how it leaves the tree, in cherry form.  That said, whole beans are certainly more appealing to the “whole” crowd than ground up coffee.  Why?  Because with bean-to-cup, you actually see (or hear) 2 steps back from the liquid product: the bean, then the grinds.

Process - Bean-to-cup is a little noisy, because of the grinding of the beans on demand, but that’s part of the beauty – it enhances the experience just a little more to know that your coffee bean is truly changing from one thing to another.  Then it’s being immediately brewed for you while you wait and catch up on the latest office gossip, or sports, or whatever you’re chatting about with your compadres.

The freshness part cannot be denied.  Now to give the already ground and packaged products their due – they ARE fresh because they seal and nitrogen flush their coffees.  But when a roasted bean is intact and sealed from oxygen, it’s going to maintain a freshness that ground coffee struggles to, even if just from a perception standpoint.

These are the primary reasons that bean-to-cup is coming on so strong.  There’s a place for both at the office, restaurant, hotel or resort, but there’s certainly a cost difference.  Bean-to-cup machines are very expensive and require more throughput to be a good investment.  So, take your pick and choose your perk, we will roast on.