Category Archives: Beverage

Changing the beverage game, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Changing the beverage game, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Since the beginning of time, it seems that all restaurants cafes and bars have been limited to their drink offerings by what’s available on the RTD (ready to drink) bottled beverage market.

As a child I fondly recall the ‘slades’ truck rattling around our neighborhood delivering crates of locally bottles soft drinks. Then the big corporate’s of the world wiped these businesses out with mass production/distribution and marketing war chests the size of some nations defense budgets!

In the liquor industry things are not that much better with the bulk of Australia’s beer and wine all coming under the corporate umbrella of a few massive corporations.

Whilst the variety and choice of product out there now has grown massively a few of things haven’t changed.

*Look behind the label/brand, you will see in most cases it’s owned by the big corporations, even when it looks ‘bespoke’ or ‘craft’

*Profit margins are stagnate, and linked to the above controlling the market.

*People actually are aware and care these days. Think about the carbon foot print of that bottle of French bubbly water the next time you order…or the boutique euro beer. The cost of producing let alone shipping and distribution on our environment is massive, it’s a crime really, and really did it taste any better than local? Then there is the ‘wastage’ of the container’s, sure some of this can be recycled, but that is still not great for the environment, for starters  it all has to be shipped back to a recycle center, not to mention the energy and costs to recycle.

*Sugar is quickly going down the same path as the tobacco  industry, bottled soft drinks and RTD pre-mix’s are full of it, in very high amounts. Customers are looking for low sugar healthier alternatives.


How the game is changing.

1.Independent machinery that can chill/serve beverages ‘of your choice’, and importantly is not owned by the beverage supplier.

  1. Compact high-volume system solutions, machines that are smaller than a domestic under bench bar fridge that can dispense over 250 ltrs of chilled beverages per hour!


independent beverage systems


Water: No need to purchase any water be it still or bubbling when you can have high quality filtered local water, direct at your bar. No transport, no storage, less floor space, no packaging, no waste. No matter if you charge for your water or not, you are still in front.

sparkling water on tap

Soft Drinks: Ditch the nasty sugar companies, select low sugar locally produced flavour syrups, or even better make your own! Or simply flavour with fresh fruit/s, no sugar required at all, choice of flat water or bubbling.  Healthy, no freight, no transport, no storage, less floor space, no packaging, no waste. And the profit margin? MUCH higher when you make your own!

home made soda

Beer: Unless you have been living in cave lately, its pretty clear to see that Australians actually do have beer taste, consumers are looking for locally brewed, interesting and different flavours, and they are a wake up to the big brands purchasing the medium craft brands to gain that market. Customers want the beer brewed down the road, by real people in real business.

The same system that do our bubbly and flat chilled water can also be used to dispense keg beers, perfect for small batch brews. The restaurant/bar /café can change flavours/brewers to any time they want, as they own the dispensing equipment they are not locked into supply contracts.

The ability to offer ‘real’ craft beers is a massive drawer card for customers, and the ticket price at the cash register is higher than commercial product.

craft brew tap system

Wine: By the Glass, what!, wine you ask? Its always going to be bottled! Nope, and I’m not talking casks either!

There are many producers now making ‘keg’ wine and these systems can dispense chilled whites, or ambient reds also, and for all the wine snobs out there, the taste through the tap for the same wine compared to the bottled version is often MUCH better! There is no oxidization occurring with half opened bottles and the slight aeration of the wine as it’s poured from the tap enhances the  flavour.

Again, no freight, no transport, no storage, less floor space, no packaging, no waste. And the profit margin? MUCH higher.

 Coffee: Surely not?! Yep coffee. The two big trends in coffee that are hear to stay are ‘cold brewed chilled coffee’ and ‘espresso martini’ and guess what both can be dispensed by the same system with all the advantages listed above.

espresso martini on tap

Other Drinks: There are very few limitations, healthy brews such as kombucha are popular iced teas and even pre mix cocktails.

Rent: is expensive in the industry, one of the single biggest costs, just as it is also for the beverage manufacturers. They LOVE it when you store their product on your premises at your expense!

The floor space that commercial refrigeration occupies, then the back up storage in the dry store and or waste areas is insanely expensive, and that without adding up the massive electricity bill of that ‘free fridge or two’ (THOUSANDS of $$$ per year).

‘It’s a no brainer if you own a cafe, restaurant or any business that serves beverages in any sort of decent volume you really need to be looking at these systems’, beverage are possible the most profitable part of your operation, and if done correctly can be even more profitable.

I have worked with customers that implemented these system into their operations, and confidently tell me every time , ‘best thing we ever did’ even ‘now we are making good profit’!

Learn more about these systems here.


Fine Foods Australia 2017

Fine Foods Australia 2017, the food service and hospitality trade show was back at the new look ICC Sydney, and it was bigger, than ever before , more brands, suppliers, product, information so much so that i honestly can say I didn’t get to everything and everyone, and that’s with 2 full days on site.

The new International Convention Center Sydney

In a very rare statement , i will go out and say I saw a LOT of new product and ideas this year, in fact heaps, too much to actually cover here! There were new offerings from existing suppliers and new suppliers with new product and a lot of QUALITY product that had been well thought out.

A trend through out many of the information sessions was embracing new technology to help your business and how technology will impact the industry, from how social media marketing such as Tribe can add massive marketing power to an operation for very little to how robotics will impact. A well known ‘futures’ speaker addressed the senior leaders of the equipment industry at a presentation about such, and No2 on his list was IOT and Sensors! I was asked to present further information on the talking food stage and with an audience that included chefs, catering managers, hospitality teachers and local health inspectors the message was clear, technology is the only way you can ensure accurate data and recording keeping economical. using technology to help food safety

Equipment trends, cooking with charcoal and wood was definitely up there. Personally i find the trend to be an old one as its taken nearly 10 years to catch on! I was promoting the benefits of this type of cooking using Grill Dome Kamado’s  , back in 2007! I’m glad chefs have finally woken up that wood, smoke, and sealed cooking = flavour!, even if the suppliers  are 10 years behind!

Fantastic Charcoal Oven/Grill combinations from Spanish manufacturer Josper (this type of cooking is very common in Spain) and these guys have been doing it since 1969.

Josper oven and grill Sydney 2017

Not only is the flavour, aroma and visual presentation better with wood/charcoal cooking its much better for the environment. The equipment requires no water/plumbing/drainage no power, no gas its fueled by naturally sustainable timber, the left over ash can be used in compost also, fantastic for the garden, and in most cases the fats that are expelled during cooking from meats are burnt off on the coals as you cook so there are no fats going down the drain. Added to this the thermal build properties of equipment designed for this purpose are always extremely thick/insulated/ often with stone hearth and heavy cast, which means amazing heat retention, in the right unit you can cook all day and night on just a couple of loads of charcoal and timber, Wood/Charcoal Cooking is much more environmentally friendly  than most of the cooking equipment we use commercially. And importantly the equipment is built to last for many many years, unlike the current industry trend where they design and build with replacement market sales in mind. 

There is a draw back to all of the above in Australia though, and that is our exhaust canopy rules and regulations, keeping it really short, currently you require a separate canopy and duct system, and that can add a lot of money onto set up costs.

A fantastic shiny red cooking suite by Mareno looked amazing, not as practical as what it actually looks but a real eye catcher.

Mareno fine foods Australia

There was a massive range of food service display equipment some really high quality also, one item that is common in the USA and not here in Australia yet is the grab and go open deck, sealed top display, I can see this really taking off, especially this unit that was really well spec’d and built.

Grab and Go Cafe display

Warewashing, always the part where everybody rushes past, i’ll admit its hard subject to get passionate about! There was heaps there and a lot of innovation. Under counter machines made in black stainless which helps with that ugly s/steel glass washer in view of the public and matched the black bar fridges. Bin Washers, a vertical 2 door up right multi level dishwasher, looks just like a 2 door drinks fridge, (i’m not placing any bets on the success of that concept, 1Hr wash time and super expensive)

Almost water less pot washing by GRANULDISK using tiny pellets that blast the soiled containers, pretty radical , but in Europe and other countries where they are really serious about the environment (unlike Australian Government )  saving water and chemicals is a big  thing, so big that the Marriot hotel group are ordering these in volume and have been awarded  a green hotelier award, in fact many hotel chains in Europe are using these  , the maths on water/chemical and power savings is astounding.

GRANULDISK commercial Kitchen Design Australia
Commercial Kitchen design inspects GRANULDISK

Auto sensing exhaust canopy systems, using a sensor it can tell when it needs to adjust fan speeds, so when nothing is cooking its very low, saving power and noise, then when things crank up it senses the odors and emissions and adjusts the fan speed to suit, no more noisy kitchens during prep time!

auto sensing exhaust systems

What else caught my attention?

Fantastic dry aged beef cabinets, beautiful deli slicers, multi purpose compact brat pan/pasta cooker/bain marie a machine i could use in just about every kitchen design! Display fridges with no center mullion and frame less glass doors allowing massive visual display, Retro look fridges, countless wood fired grills, refrigerated display drawers, excellent build quality and spec display cabinets, heaps of induction cookers, Solid Teknicks  Australian made steel pans (awesome design build and excellent for induction) , pressurized multi cooker stirrer kettles, Shepherd filter savers,  (award wining)

There was also a huge range of new imported brands of cooking and refrigeration equipment , most of which did not need close inspection as the quality (or lack there of) could be seen from a long way away! I’m always looking for new brands/suppliers and equipment , but the trend by many to try and import in a cheaply and poorly built knock off a regular brand is frustrating. Typically these suppliers target first time mums and dads operators, newbies to the business if you like that simply don’t know better and can’t see any problem with a fridge or oven that looks the same (if you don’t look too hard) being 25-30% of the cost of a reputable established brand/supplier. What results is the inexperienced operator purchasing purely on price , suffering huge losses in breakdown costs, energy costs and then having to replace all that rubbish they purchased initially with quality, its foolish false economic savings.

It’s also really bad for the environment producing poor quality, high energy equipment that  really just ends up in the tip in a short time, that’s land fill, and more resources wasted building crap again! There should be a law against anything that is manufactured clearly below certain minimum standards, we do it with cars, but not other items.

Catering equipment is an unregulated market in Australia, there is no real standards protecting  consumers with regards to quality its pretty much open slather , anyone can import what ever and see if they can make a quick buck, buyer beware.

‘If it looks to good to be true, it probably is!’

Having said all the above it is still very frustrating with some lines just how expensive some of our equipment is, with google its pretty easy to see how much the same thing costs overseas! The way the industry is set up (and controlled by a few massive multinationals)  and low sales volumes and high freight here in Australia the end user is faced with little choice but to pay. So I totally understand why people try and come up with more economically priced solutions.

As per usual at these shows a showcase lot processed mass volume foods , that I rushed past.  This years food trend,  lots of wheels of cheese, heaps of wheels of cheese , it was Pecorino /Chedder/Parmasan overload this year! Couple of stand outs food drink products below.

Espresso martini machines, best ready to go product was ONYX coffee spirits , and award wining flavour Pearls from Peninsular larder.

espresso martini
Maximum visual merchandising True Refrigeration 

There were also some great information sessions during the event, I’m always surprised more people don’t attend these, self education is not a strong part of the hospitality industry! In particular i sat in on a great ‘food waste’ session,  in Australia we are very wasteful, we don’t recycle well and much of that has to do with the fact that waste is cheap . One statistic that was researched and documented found that 60% of food waste within the industry comes from the customers plate! And the number One  reason why the food was  left behind/wasted, ‘there was too much food!’

Fine Foods Australia 2017