The Mail on Sunday

Coffee Nation’s costly brew

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INVESTING in a new generation of automatic hot drinks machines has hit Coffee Nation, the self-service beverage company.

The company spent £2.9 million last year repairing machines and designing automated kiosks that aim to replicate the ‘coffee bar’ experience offered by Starbucks and others by allowing customers to tailor their drinks with extra dashes of cream or caramel syrup.

It is also rolling out chip and PIN technology to its 800 machines in motorway service stations, university halls and hospitals.

Chief executive Scott Martin said the group, backed by private equity firm Milestone Capital, had invested about £4 million on research and developmen­t since 2006 to challenge perception­s about the quality of self-service coffee making.

‘There is a really coffee bar-centric attitude that irritates me because we are as passionate about delivering a decent cup of coffee as anyone else – it’s just we sell ours through self-service machines,’ he said.

Accounts filed at Companies House show Coffee Nation’s profits fell nearly 90 per cent to £248,000 in the year to the end of March last year as the cost of the next generation of coffee dispensers filtered through.

But sales jumped 18 per cent to £20 million, boosted by the group’s expansion into airports and train stations.

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