Tea and Coffee Vending Machine – The Best Of Both Worlds

Tea and Coffee Vending Machine : How to make any vending machine tea compatible

Hot beverage machines are defined as any machine which dispenses any types of hot beverages including coffee, tea, hot chocolate and soup. Because these beverage machines almost always are used to primarily dispense coffee, hot beverage machines are commonly known as coffee vending machines. In this article we will talk about how a hot beverage machine can be configured as a tea and coffee vending machine.

Tea Beverage Dispenser Machines

There are essentially three ways to make any hot beverage machine a tea machine. All have their advantages and disadvantages. The three options are instant tea (also known as Vend Tea), hot water only and “everything but” settings. We will describe each in more detail below:

VendTea or Instant Tea and Coffee Vending Machine:

Making any vending machine “tea compatible” is simply an exercise in compromise. All vending machines have a certain number of canisters for powder or instant products. The most common vending machine on the market is a three canister vending, followed by four canisters then five etc. The two ingredients which are usually a must for offices are coffee and milk.

three canister vending

This leaves the last remaining canister for one of the following four options: hot chocolate, sugar, soup or tea. Instant tea for vending machines is simply tea which has been pre-brewed and then dehydrated (much the same as instant coffee is) to allow it to be mixed later with water turning it into tea instantly without the need of filter paper. Vendtea comes in two varieties in South Africa :  black tea and rooibos tea. Instant tea or loose leaf tea is the 5th most popular option for vending machines in South Africa as many companies are comfortable with using only hot water to solve their tea requirements.

Advantages of a Vending Machine That Uses Instant Tea

The advantages of using instant tea as opposed to just having a hot water option available or having an “everything but setting” is twofold. By eliminating tea bags altogether, you eliminate the possibility of theft. Also by having tea inside the machine , allowing it to be made much the same way coffee is, means that you don’t need to have milk and sugar outside of the machine like you would with just having a hot water option. Ensuring all your ingredients are kept inside the machine means eliminating theft and abuse of all coffee and tea related consumables. A typical 4 canister vending machine would be setup as below when using vendtea.

Intant Tea Vending Settings

Disadvantages of a Vending Machine That Uses Instant Tea

The disadvantages of using instant tea in a vending machine are also twofold. Instant tea is more expensive then tea bags meaning that you might save on the control of items like milk and sugar but this saving will often be lost due to the higher price of instant tea compared to tea bags.

The other disadvantage of instant tea in a vending machine is that it limits peoples options. You cant regulate the strength of the tea from cup to cup and one also doesn’t have the option of multiple teas, like black and rooibos, unless another canister is used to accommodate another type of tea

Hot Water Setting for Tea

Using only a hot water setting for tea is the most common way machines are setup in South Africa. Setting up a machine in this way probably gives the least advantages and it is probably because of ignorance more than anything else, which is why people set their machines up in this way.

Advantages of a Vending Machine That Uses Hot Water Setting

The advantage of using just the hot water button is that it frees up the maximum number of options and canisters to use other ingredients. All vending machines are equipped with a hot water only button which doesn’t use any other ingredients in the machine. A four canister machine can utilise milk, sugar, coffee and hot chocolate in this configuration. The standard vending machine setup is as below in this case:

Hot Water Tea Setting

Disadvantages of a Vending Machine That Uses Hot Water Setting

The disadvantage of using just the hot water button is that many of the reasons for getting a vending machine are lost in this configuration. The two most common reasons for getting a vending machine in South Africa is to

1)      Save costs – This is done by the control of milk and sugar. If only hot water is used for tea options, it means that milk and sugar is required to be left outside the vending machine which destroys the control factor

2)      Ease of Use and Cleanliness – Everyone has seen a messy coffee counter at some stage. The sight of sugar soaked tea spoons and messy counters is commonplace wherever there is coffee. Vending machines go a long way to solving this except when milk and sugar is required to be left outside for the use of tea.

“Everything But” Tea Vending Options

Everything but is probably the best compromise between both of the above options. In an “everything but” setting the tea options in configuration (1)are replaced with their hot water equivalents as shown below. A tea bag is then simply combined with any of the options on the right of the vending machine with the machine providing all the milk and sugar and the user only needing to provide the tea bag.

Tea Vending without Instant Tea

Advantages of a vending machine which uses this setting to make tea

The advantages of using just the “everything but” configuration are threefold

1)      It allows people to choose a variety of tea options (black, rooibos, chai etc)

2)      The cost is lower in this configuration than any of the above options

3)       Users are able to control the strength of their tea exactly how they would ordinarily (by leaving in their tea bag as long or as short as they like)

Disadvantages of a vending machine which uses this setting to make tea

The disadvantages of using just the “everything but” configuration is as follows:

1)      One still needs to have tea bags on hand creating the potential for possible theft

2)      This method is slower than in the Instant  Tea configuration

Tea and Coffee Vending Machine Summary

Tea can be used in vending machines just as easily as coffee can, and calling vending machines, coffee vending machines is simply a faux pas as they should be aptly named either multi-beverage vending dispensers or simply coffee and tea vending machines.

For advice in choosing the best option for you, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you in a tick!