Coffee Vending Machines : Coin Operated Vending

Coffee Vending Machines : Free Vend or Coin Operated

Coffee vending machines essentially come in two variants : Coin operated and Free vend. As the name implies coin operated vending machines require payment of some sort (coins, token or bill payments) whereas Free vend options are free for everyone in the company to drink. In this article we will discuss where coin operated coffee machines are good ideas and where you would be better off finding a way around a coin operated solution.

The uses of Coin Operated Vending Machines:coin machine

Coin operated coffee machines allow one to make a profit on their vending machine and to use the coffee machine as their very own storefront. For this reason there are many people who run the world who earn a passive income through the placement of vending machines (snack, cigarette and coffee) in high trafficked areas and collecting the money once a month.

The other environment in which one would find coin operated or token operated vending machines is within large corporate companies. Some companies prefer to make their staff pay for all their coffee to save costs whereas others allow their staff to drink for free but only require payment for drinks such as hot chocolate and chocachino.

Advantages of Coin Operated Vending Machines:advantages

Coin operated vending machines can produce a nice flow of passive income for independent vending operators and can be a good solution in large corporates where many of the staff are happy to pay for exclusive hot beverages.

Disadvantages of Coin Operated Vending Machines:disadvantages

There are 5 major disadvantages of a paid vending solution:

  1. The main disadvantages of a paid vending option is that the coin mechanisms are very expensive (usually around the R10,000 mark) which translates into either a significantly higher purchase cost of the machine or a far higher monthly rental.
  2. Logistics can also be challenging as a coin vending machine requires someone to empty the machine each day of coin as the coin holder can fill rather quickly
  3. In a token based machine the logistical challenge of redistributing tokens to all employees each day and to manage lost tokens can be rather frustrating
  4. Some older coins are not easily readable by the mechanisms – The old R5 coin has a hard time being registered by most vending machines
  5. Dealing with money in South Africa, and transporting from one place to another, means an inherent day to day risk.

How do you get around needing a coin operated machine:

If the purpose of your coffee machine is transactional (i.e. to sell the coffee for a profit) you are far better off going for a free vend option and selling the cup instead of the coffee itself. We see this a lot in petrol stations where the coffee machine is free for the customer to use but the customer needs to buy the actual cup at the counter for a price equivalent to what to the coffee would well for (Say R15). The customer would then go make their own coffee at the self-service vending station.


There are instances where you simply cannot avoid needing to buy or rent a coin operated vending machine however most situations allow for one to get creative and opt for a free vend machine instead.