Today we had the pleasure to speak with Mark Tilson, our sales manager for Wilbur Curtis. We asked Mark some pertinent questions about the coffee industry in general, and Wilbur Curtis specifically. Here’s what we learned:
(1) Tell me a bit about your role at Wilbur Curtis and the changes you have seen since you have been there.
I cover sales in 5 states for Wilbur Curtis: KY, TN, AR, MS and LA. I mainly call on roasters, office coffee companies, c-store chains, restaurant chains, or anyone associated with placing coffee, tea, and cappuccino equipment in the field.
I have seen many changes in the marketplace including the rise of digital brewing systems, and now Generation 4 with touch screen technology like your smartphone. Recent, new technologies include TFT Thermo Fresh Trac timers that provide trouble-free timing of the brewing process including a blinking light. The screen shows the volume and countdown timer. This new system has rolled out in ChicK-Fil-A and Dunkin Donuts! C-store chains are using these new systems also – like Twice Dailys in the Nashville marketplace.
(2) How do you see the coffee business changing in the next 5 years?
Our customers are really looking for ways to show their customers that they are timing their coffee for freshness. TFT is continuing to emerge and will flourish in the marketplace over the next few years.
There have been issues with similar technologies that have launched in recent years like fogging in the screen and battery issues. Curtis has eliminated these issues with a completely concealed product that does not allow moisture inside the lid. Also, another technology that has emerged in the last year is Intelli-Fresh that provides a red light on the satellite that stays on during the freshness timer cycle and blinks once the freshness timer is complete.These 2 technologies are good solutions for customers that insist on proving to their customers they time their coffee products and that their products are fresh.
The next step for Curtis will be in launching the Freshness Monitoring System, FMS. This system was co-developed with our partner, Renau Electronics.We just won the 2014 National Restaurant Show’s Kitchen Award in May.
The system will monitor the coffee’s freshness and volume remotely without wires. The servers and probes send signals to a computer station or smartphone. We are also engineering software into the FMS to track freshness of food ingredients. Like coffee, sandwich meats, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes have to be monitored for food freshness to ensure quality, safety, customer experience and satisfaction.
(3) How are Kuerig-type pod brewers impacting Curtis and the industry?
Curtis has decided not to develop a Kuerig-type brewing system but instead has developed and launched CGC the Gold Cup Brewer. The Gold Cup Brewer has the ability to make a gold cup standard cup of coffee, unlike the Kuerig system and has flexibility to do so much more.
The CGC brewer can work with a brew basket to brew right into the cup, or one can take the brew basket out and brew right into a Chemex or Bonmac. The brew basket in the CGC brewer can take a larger throw weight for a single cup unlike the Kuerig and can handle throw weights used by the SCAA.
Examples would be 25 grams for a single cup of coffee or 27 grams. 50 grams can be used in the chemex for a larger brew. There is so much more flexibility for the presentation with the CGC brewer than Kuerig and it pleases even the highest level of customers.
(4) Curtis recently came out with the G4 line of brewers – can you explain the differences between G3 and G4?
The difference is the G3 is digital and the G4 is touch screen is like your smartphone and icon driven. The brewers can be manipulated to do the same thing but G4 sets us up to do so much more in the future with brewing systems.
Newly developed recipes and technologies can be updated in the G4 with a jump drive. New designs and graphics are implemented by inserting a jump drive or downloading online through our website.
G4 will allow the service technicians to run a diagnostic system check and determine quicker which component is having trouble and speed up the service call resulting in less downtime in the field. G3 and G4 have the commonality of parts feature and can be used in the different brewing systems between the Thermo Pro, Gemini, and Intelli-Fresh brewers.
(5) How are the sales of the Gold Cup Single Cup brewer going? Who is the typical customer?
Gold are sales are increasing and examples of the customer base are coffee shops where gold cup standard is essential, doctors and lawyers offices, fine dining restaurants.
This brewer is not designed to produce large batch brewing solutions but single cup quality at its best. Coffee shops can use this brewer to offer a special featured coffee of the day or single origin. The brewer consistently makes the same cup of coffee because the programming always stays the same and the water is always brewing at 200 degrees unlike the temperature lost in a kettle used for pour overs.
(6) Can you give us any details on the new Seraphim? Is it a brewer, or does it just work in conjunction with a Chemex type brewer? Any clue on when it will be available?
The Seraphim will launch in late fall and is a perfect evolution of the CGC, Gold Cup brewer. The G4 board on the new Seraphim is the same as the CGC brewer but will mount on the counter top. Under the counter is a hot water tower to provide the water source and the brew baskets will mount on the counter as well as the board. Three holes will be drilled into the counter to accommodate the control board and brew baskets.
This brewer is styled to meet the desires of the ever changing coffee industry especially in the walls of the SCAA.
We are working closer with them than ever before and are designing products to meet the changing environment of the specialty community. I will provide more details as they come with the release of the brewer.