Updated: May 4
We all want to make good decisions for our churches, after all most of us who look after or spend church finances know the importance of handling what's been given well. Every penny can really count, and as people are generous with their tithing and church giving, we know that our clients want to make the best decisions for their church.
We've put together this handy checklist and thought provoking questions to help you consider all the different factors when buying new coffee making equipment.
Volume of people you expect to serve
This can be a really hard one to guess, but you can come to a good place if your realistic and thinking of future potential use. Things to think through:
How many people do you currently serve drinks to at your Sunday services?
Do you plan to grow or reduce this over the next 5 years?
Have you got any church strategic plans which might affect the number of people going to want hot drinks in your venue?
Are you planning to open a coffee shop or cafe anytime in the next 5 years?
Once you've started to consider the number of people you want to serve, you can really cut out some of the unsuitable options and have a much clearer understanding of what's likely to be a good choice.
How quickly do you need to serve everyone who wants a drink? Some large churches need to serve 500 people a hot drink within 20 minutes after the service so that people are likely to want to hang around and get fresh drink. Other smaller churches can serve everyone a hot drink within 5 minutes because they have a lower volume of people. Some churches have a lot of people who favour drinking one particular beverage over another as well - so it's important to consider the types of drinks people enjoy as well as the total number of people.
The speed in which you need to serve everyone also dictates what sort of equipment you are going to need. A kettle won't provided all 30 people with a cup of tea or filter coffee within 10 minutes after the church service, but it would be suitable for a couple of cafetiere pots for about 10 people and would be quite quick to do. Another factor with speed is the service style and culture you have within your church - some churches require things to be neat, tidy and to the point; others are more relaxed where the church spends hours catching up over coffee on a Sunday afternoon - one size doesn't fit all!
Cost and budget
Do you know how much you have to spend? It's wonderful to be able to dream and come up with all sorts of fancy machines, plans and cafe concepts, but the reality is that if your budget is very small then your options are going to be limited.
Now this is where we come in! Not only are we pretty savvy at roasting incredible coffee, we are also pretty switched on to coming up with smart solutions to coffee serving on a budget - you do have to be realistic about what you can do though. We have helped numbers of churches think through their plans and have come up with some budget saving solutions to help you get great tasting coffee for less. With our equipment partner, we can also help spread any costs with weekly payments so that you CAN afford that fancy bean to cup machine so you can sip your cappuccino with a big smile on your face.
Looking after your machine is a big factor in how long you can expect it to be with you. Sadly nothing lasts quite forever, but we can say that those clients who regularly descale their machines as easily the ones who have the least amount of hassle and servicing costs!
The more complicated a piece of equipment, the more likely you'll need to get it serviced - not just for it's long service life, but in the case of espresso machines it may be a legal necessity. Our equipment partner can advise you on the right type of servicing and maintenance for your machine and your setup. We pride ourselves in being able to offer the right thing for our client, not what they won't need or want. Much of the equipment maintenance is preventative, so by looking after your machines on a regular basis, you'll be keeping your overhead costs nice and low as well as getting a better tasting cup of coffee.
Our 2 litre filter coffee machines for are really simple bits of equipment so they make great coffee for churches as well as being very low maintenance. All you need to do is run a descaler or white vinegar solution through on a regular basis (depending on frequency of use) and you're basically set for life - these machines go on year after year because they are built to last. So with an investment of just £199 you have a trade standard machine that will last years and require zero professional maintenance, you just wipe the outside with a damp cloth and descale as required.
On the other hand, if you have espresso or bean to cup machines, we can make sure you get the most cost effective, high quality servicing possible through our partner. With years of brilliant service and only using high quality parts, they know where not to skimp on quality and ensure you only pay for what you need.
You may have a large kitchen or cafe space that your looking to equip and configure, which means we can help you get great value equipment with an optimal layout that will make life easier in a busy space. However many churches we work with also really struggle to get enough space, which is where we also come into our own.
We can help you design and kit out your refreshment space with everything you might need to think about for free - we can provide you with lists of things to think about, ideas you might not have thought about and suggest solutions to space problems. Where there is a challenge...we love to come up with some solutions!
James (me) has over 16 years of hospitality experience running cafes, bars, hotels and restaurants for both secular and church sectors - so I have a pretty good idea about what works in reality and simply what doesn't. I have designed cafe and kitchen spaces for churches as well, so I am more than happy to give you some hints, tips and know-how for free. Why? because we really do want to support and see churches grow so that more people can experience hospitality like Jesus intended: served with love. If we can use our God given skills and experience in this way, we are only too happy to support your church for His glory.
When it comes to space, the size and shape of the space does matter, as well as what water and electrical services you have available. naturally this links in with cost as well, so it's important to make sure you consider what you actually are likely to need, and not just what you want - we will help guide you in deciding the most suitable equipment options for the space you have available.
Skills of volunteers and staff
We all like to think we've got lots to offer, but although there may be willing, sometimes you do just need someone who knows what they are doing, not what they think they are doing! As well we know, most churches run their hospitality services on a volunteer basis - the church coffee rota is often a thing of beauty stuck up on the kitchen wall!
But as well as having willing volunteers to man the coffee station, it's also really important to think about the ability of those volunteers. Do they have the skills to make a good tea or coffee whilst also being able to chat to a visitor or guest? Can they actually make a good coffee? Do they smile? If you find folk in your church family get as picky about the coffee rota as they do who is preaching that week, then maybe we can help!
We understand the realities of running a church, which is why we'll recommend coffee solutions that are right for you. We can provide hints, tips and guides to help your volunteers get to grips with offering a top end coffee service without become burdensome or difficult to manage. We can provide prompt sheets, guides and instructions to help keep things really simple.
Another thing we do is only suggest equipment we know you'll be able to use. As we have already mentioned, our filter coffee machines make our incredible coffee really tasty as well as being so simple to use:
Pour in a jug of fresh tap water.
Empty 1 x 60g bag of our fresh Hero Coffee into the filter paper.
Press one button and wait just 5 minutes for ready to serve coffee!
It's so easy and means that even those with reduced mobility or vision tend to find they can still play their part in serving refreshments.That's another great thing about simple to use equipment that requires little coffee making skills: it helps keep us inclusive. We all hopefully want our churches to be inclusive and welcoming places, which is why our simple to use machines work a treat for building local church.
To contract or not to contract?
We have an amazing equipment partner who provides all our customers with top servicing options at really fair prices, which is why we chose to work with them. Our partner provides everything you need to have long lasting equipment in place for years to come, which is why we'll help you get setup with the right sort of servicing for you and the equipment.
Sometimes it simply isn't worth cutting corners where it matters. That old saying rings true here: "Buy cheap and buy twice" - and my life experience has taught me that with coffee machines! It is possible to just buy a machine and forget about servicing and water filters, and that will undoubtedly be fine for a time - maybe even 12 months, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it won't last too much longer - it will be a false economy and you'll be left with an expensive piece of scrap metal. Nobody wants that!
Choose a servicing option that fits what you need right now, and likely to need in the future. Thinking a couple of years ahead will pay off, I promise. If your planning to develop and maintain a quality refreshment service for your church, then it's worth investing in the important thing so that you can keep your long term costs low. Think of it a bit like LED and energy saving light bulbs - they can cost twice or three times as much as filament bulbs, but you'll pay off the investment within 12 months and then have a piece of equipment that will last years and years longer!
We also believe you don't need a servicing contract on everything either. Our fast brew filter coffee machines are so simple, it's a 15 minute DIY job to descale them and that's about it. Wipe the outside clean with a damp cloth and your good to go. The good news is the plastic and metal filter sections and jugs can also be washed in the dishwasher for really easy cleaning.
How long do you want to use it for?
As with many things, you'll want to think about the lifecycle of the equipment your buying- you can buy cheap... and we know the rest of that story. But buying reliable equipment from reliable supplier such as ourselves and our partners means you keep costs low and can rely on the machine lasting a very long time.
Think about the nature of the way you want to use the coffee machine: do you plan to use it 5 days a week or is this mainly just for Sunday's? These are important things to think about, because the durability of the equipment will take it's toll on how long you can expect it to last. take cafetiere's for example: they will serve you years and years if they aren't knocked about, dropped and used only once or twice a week. But if you use these regularly then expect to have to periodically buy replacements. Now that's not a problem as long as it's what you want - it might be you want to start small, give it a try and see how it goes, that way you can upgrade and buy a bigger machine if it seems to work for you.
The important thing to remember is consider all the different options as you go, weighing things up and prioritising not only now, but what's likely to be a priority over the next few years.
And last, but not least... Where should I go to get the right machine for our church?
Well, us of course! Distribution Coffee's team are passionate about helping churches choose the right equipment for their church. So once you're ready to start exploring how to upgrade your church refreshments, just get in touch for some free, friendly help. We and our partners have everything you need to serve incredible coffee in your church.
Got a question or want some help choosing the right machine for you? Check out our other articles here on our site and we can help you choose the right coffee machines and equipment for your church.
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