Northern Ireland coffee chain makes move into workplace vending machines
Northern Ireland coffee chain Ground Espresso, which has around 30 cafes, is branching out into vending machines in a £200,000 investment.
The husband and wife firm, which was founded in Coleraine in 2001, has developed Ground To Go vending machines for leisure centres and workplaces.
The machines will sell 35 drinks, including high-end coffees and hot chocolate.
Ground Espresso said it had developed the machines after two years of research.
The company said businesses can rent the machines and buy their supplies from Ground.
It's then operated, filled, cleaned and maintained by the client. But the company is also offering profit-share schemes where Ground Espresso staff maintain the machine every day, with the client receiving a percentage of net sales.
Owners Karen and Darren Gardiner recently announced plans to extend their chain of cafes to Scotland.
Regional manager Jonny Ross said: "Artisan coffee has become increasingly popular in Northern Ireland in recent years and now, more than ever, consumers are prioritising quality coffee over simple convenience when choosing where to spend their hard-earned cash.
"Not only does 'Ground To Go' offer convenience, but thanks to cutting edge technology we are able to offer our bespoke coffee blends through these machines ensuring a great tasting cup of coffee made to the customer's specifications."
The company said its Halo coffee - including the trendy flat white - is made from fresh ingredients. A supply of fresh milk is added daily, along with fresh coffee beans.
Ground Espresso is one of a number of companies originating from the north cost which feature in a book about leadership in small businesses by Ulster University Coleraine provost Dr Karise Hutchinson.
In the book, Mrs Gardiner discusses some of the challenges which the company had to overcome in its early years. Access to its second store was restricted after a road was closed - and then a new manager fled with money taken from the business.
But after a series of setbacks, the opening of their third store was "the turning point".