coffee vending questions

Coffee Vending Machines Questions: 5 Most Common Questions Answered

Coffee Vending Machines Questions: We Answer the 5 Most Common Questions

Coffee vending machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are today probably in excess of 100 manufacturers worldwide, each adding something slightly different to the rest. Despite this plethora of options, we have found that our customers all have similar questions, they want clarity on, before deciding whether or not a vending machine is right for them. In this post I will discuss (and answer) the 5 most common questions we get form people looking to buy or rent a coffee vending machine.

How Much Does a Coffee Vending Machine Cost?

This is without doubt the most common question we get. It is inevitable that at some point, in any service or product related business, customers will want to know the price. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest answers to find on the internet, without having to “speak to consultant first” or “having a rep come out to visit”. We ourselves have been in the same shoes as the customer before, which is why we know how frustrating this can be (which is why we are 100% open and transparent when it comes to cost).

Coffee vending machines are divided into two main categories ; Instant and Bean Vending. As the names suggest Instant Vending Machines use instant coffee as their primary coffee ingredient whereas Bean Vending Machines grind coffee beans on the spot, and are hence called bean to cup vending machines. For a more in depth view into the differences please see our article, Instant vs Bean vending Machines : The 7 Key Differences.

Instant Coffee Vending Machines are usually about 20% cheaper than their bean to cup counterparts and the cost of the coffee on a per cup basis is double when using a bean vending machine when compared to an instant coffee dispenser.

Our instant vending machine, the Aqua Instant, sells for R21,500 Ex. VAT and rents for between R490 and R1500 per month depending on one’s consumption.


Aqua Instant Vending Machine

Our Bean Vending machine, the Aqua Bean, sells for R26,500 Ex. VAT and rents for between R590 and R1650 per month depending on ones consumption.

Aqua Bean Vending Machine

Aqua Bean Vending Machine

A cup of instant coffee costs anywhere from R0,50 – R1.80 depending on the brand of instant coffee used, whereas a cup of coffee made from a bean costs anywhere from R2,00 – R4.00 depending on the brand of bean used. To have a deeper look into all the costs of different vending machine ingredients, please have a look at the article, “the cost of all vending machine ingredients”.

How Does a Coffee Vending Machine Work?

This is more a technical question then anything else but a lot of our customers want to know what is a coffee vending machine and how does it actually work. A coffee vending machine is essentially quite a simple device which consists of a boiler or thermoblock, a number of canister in which to store the product, mixing bowls and dispensing pipes.

When the coffee machine is turned on in the morning (if it isn’t left on during the night), the thermoblock starts to warm a presorted amount of water. This process usually takes only 30 seconds as the vending machine only warms about 1 litre worth of water at a time. Coffee vending machines from yesteryear use to heat huge quantities of water at one time (usually close to 20 litres) which meant the warmup time of these machines was in the order of hours.

Once the machine and water are warm the vending machine is ready to go. As a button is pressed by a the operator the water is pumped through the machine at the same time as the ingredients are dispensed from the mixing bowls. This water/ingredient concoction is then swirled around the mixing bowl for about 3 seconds and this mixture is then dispensed through the piping into one’s cup.

There is always a tiny amount of water which follows this mixture to ensure the mixing bowls are kept clean.


A bean vending machine works exactly the same way except there is a grinding process which happends prior to the ingredients being dispensed into the mixing bowls.

What Drinks Does a Coffee Vending Machine Dispense

Coffee vending machines have caused a lot of confusion by simply being called “Coffee” vending machines. In truth coffee vending machine machines should really be called multi-beverage vending dispensers (perhaps the name, being quite a mouthful, is the reason that they are not known by this description).

Coffee vending machines can be programmed to dispense as much or as little as one likes depending on the application and the reason for wanting to get a vending machine in the first place.

We have found that customers are typically divided into three main categories:

  1. Customers that want to save money
  2. Customers that want to have a nice standard offering
  3. Customers that want it all

1.Customers that want to save money:save money

The first question that needs to be answers is “Can a Coffee Vending Machine Save Money?”. This was a question we set out to find when we launched our vending range in 2012. Vending machines can potentially save money by controlling how ingredients are used. In a typical office the biggest costs when it comes to coffee related consumables is milk. People usually use milk for all sorts of things like cereals, porridges and even just in large quantities in the tea and coffee. Coffee Vending Machines control this by only dispensing milk in conjunction with water to ensure that excessive amounts of milk can’t be used. We have found that 70% of offices of 30 people save money when they install a vending machine. 20% experience no change in costs and 10% actually experience an increase in costs.

When we know that cost saving is the primary goal we set a vending machine to dispense the following:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee + Milk
  • Coffee + Milk + Sugar
  • Coffee + Sugar
  • Tea
  • Tea + Milk
  • Tea + Milk + Sugar
  • Tea + Sugar

Essentially we eliminate the high cost drinks like cappuccino, latte and hot chocolate.

2.Customers that want to Have the Standard Offeringbasic

Customers that want the standard offering typically want a coffee vending machine to improve the quality of hot beverages in their company but are also cognisant of costs and pricing. This is our most common type of customer and this customer usually elects to have the following settings:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee + Milk
  • Coffee + Milk + Sugar
  • Coffee + Sugar
  • Cappuccino
  • Cappuccino + Sugar
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Hot Water
  • Epsresso

3.Customers that Want All the Bells and Whistlesbells & whistles

Who said coffee vending machines can’t be fancy. Vending Machines essentially have no limit in terms of what they can produce. If it is a powder and it is vending compatible, then it can go in a vending machine. For customers, for whom money is no problem, often elect for the following configuration:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee + Milk
  • Coffee + Milk + Sugar
  • Coffee + Sugar
  • Cappuccino
  • Cappuccino + Sugar
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Espresso
  • Moccacino
  • Hot Water
  • Iced Coffee
  • Vanilla Cappuccino

The more ingredients, and the higher priced the ingredients are, the higher the cost one will experience.

How Big Should Our Company Be To Rent or Buy A Coffee Vending Machinesize

We have customers of 5 people and 5000 people who rent vending machines from us. Of course anyone can buy or rent a coffee machine but having said that there is a minimum office size for whom a vending coffee machine makes sense for.

Vending machines are produced for the most part for large commercial use. If your company is too small, you will probably be better off with buying or renting an automatic coffee machine which is designed for use in smaller offices.

Automatic machines come in all sizes and are made for office of 1 person up to 200. Coffee Vending machines will be able to do the job in smaller offices (offices of fewer than 20 people) but you won’t be getting the best value for your money by opting for a vending machine for a small office.

The one exception to this, is offices of less than 20 people who desperately want to have hot chocolate in addition to the standard coffee offerings – Unfortunately automatic coffee machines are unable to produce hot chocolate at the touch of a button.

Is it Better to Rent or Buy a Coffee Vending Machinerent vs buying a coffee machine

This question almost always comes up further down the line when a customer has decided on a specific machine and now want to decide which route is a better option. There is unfortunately no right or wrong answer but we have always been big believers of at least starting out in a rental during the “honeymoon phase” and then deciding a few months into the rental which route is the best for you.

We like to encourage this rental honeymoon test phase so companies can:

  1. Make sure they are happy with the machine first before spending a lot of money on buying a machine (there is unfortunately only so much one can know by looking at brochures)
  2. Make sure that the coffee produced by the coffee vending machine tastes good –After all, what point is the best vending machine if no one likes the coffee that it produces
  3. Assess the volume of coffee used as the rental on a coffee vending machine is directly affected by how much coffee one uses.

For a more in depth look at the pros and cons of buying vs. renting have a look at our discussion, “Renting vs Buying a Coffee Machine, which is better?”


That’s it! The above are the five most common questions we get asked by our customers before they choose the vending machine that they want. If you have a question which doesn’t appear above or want to try out a coffee vending machine for a month, please complete your details below:



0 2170

Experience a Rental-Free Coffee Machine Trial Now!