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How Do Coffee Vending Machines Work?

In need of a boost, you blearily press a button on your nearest coffee vending machine. Moments later, you have in your hands a delicious cup of hot coffee. Just what you need. It might as well be magic. And as far as you’re concerned, it is magic.

But have you ever wondered just how a coffee vending machine works? Have you ever stopped and thought about the sort of mechanisms and the sort of alchemy that’s necessary to conjure a coffee, apparently out of thin air?

Now that so many of us have high-tech coffee makers in our homes, the mystery has been lessened a little. You know that it involves running hot water through ground coffee beans. But even so, how do vending machines manage to do things so quickly and so quietly?

There’s a coffee vending machine in Japan that features a live video feed of the inner workings of the machine. As some jaunty yet soothing music plays, you can watch with wonder as a fascinating series of mechanisms create a hot drink from scratch.

This seems to be an example of an instant vending machine. Seeing as it draws from a range of pre-ground and pre-prepared instant mixes, it’s by far the simplest form of hot drink dispenser. Besides adding hot water, all the mechanism’s really doing is determining which quantities of which mixes to add. Machines like this are supremely convenient, as they can dispense up to 500 cups of coffee before they need replenishing.

Other coffee machines are a little more complex, but the end result is a higher quality drink. For example, bean to cup machines are capable of dispensing a cup of coffee that’s every bit as good as anything you could buy from a high-street barista. Rather than simply adding hot water to pre-ground mixes, these machines need to be supplied with whole coffee beans, which will be specially ground for every cup of coffee mixed.

Machines of this nature are more complex, more time consuming and, given that they ground, they can sometimes get quite noisy. However, any coffee connoisseur will tell you that these are small prices to pay for the resulting cuppa joe.

So whether you need to supply a large workforce with hot drinks, quickly and easily, or you want to treat a smaller and more discerning crowd to a truly gourmet experience; there’s really no difference in the way your machines will operate. Ultimately, you’re just adding water. It’s what you’re adding water to that determines the quality.