There have been many mixed studies, myths, and general confusion about coffee’s health effects. And why wouldn’t there be? Coffee is a complicated product containing over one thousand chemicals.

Occasionally, coffee has received a bad rap. In 1991 coffee was included in a list of possible carcinogens by the World Health Organization. However, by 2016 it was removed, as research discovered the beverage was not associated with an increased risk of cancer. Quite the opposite. Once smoking history was properly accounted for, they were able to determine that people who drank coffee regularly have a decreased risk of certain cancers.

Coffee hit another speed bump in 2018 when California passed legislation that coffee must bear a cancer warning label. When roasting coffee beans, small amounts of acrylamide are created – the same chemical found on burnt toast. Later in 2019, the warning labels were removed since the amount of acrylamide for roasted coffee is too low to be a carcinogenic risk.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Growing research and studies suggest that when consumed in moderation, coffee can have health benefits. A moderate amount of coffee is generally defined as 3-5 cups a day or on average 400 mg of caffeine.

Cumulative research points towards coffee reducing the following:

  • Parkinson’s disease. The Caffeine itself, not the bean, has shown positive results.
  • Unhealthy livers. Coffee has reduced cirrhosis of the liver. Studies also suggest that coffee improves antioxidant responses and reduces inflammation. This has been helpful for both liver cancer (the third leading cause of cancer death in the world) and colorectal cancer (the fourth-ranking cause of cancer death in the world).
  • Type 2 diabetes. A study found that each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  • Gallstones. These are reduced especially for men.

Research also suggests that coffee makes other positive contributions:

  • It Provides a large source of antioxidants in the Western Diet.
  • Coffee raises epinephrine (adrenaline) levels in your blood which can prepare your body for extreme physical exertion. 
  • It Can Help You Burn Fat. Almost every commercial fat-burning supplement has caffeine. It’s among a few natural substances proven to aid fat burning. Several studies show that caffeine can boost your metabolic rate by 3–11% 
  • Studies indicate that coffee drinkers live longer and have a lower risk of premature death.
  • Coffee contains nutrients – A single cup of coffee has:
    • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 11% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
    • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 6% of the RDI.
    • Manganese and potassium: 3% of the RDI.
    • Magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3): 2% of the RDI.
  • Coffee can improve a person’s cognitive function: alertness and ability to concentrate including memory, mood, vigilance, reaction times, and general mental function. It has had positive effects on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.
  • Mental state. It may have neurological benefits and act as an antidepressant. 

Is Coffee Actually Bad For You?

Take caution. While many studies point to positive health benefits from drinking coffee, human response to coffee or caffeine can vary substantially across individuals. Like many other products that have healthy components to them, it is advised to drink coffee in moderation.

Higher doses of coffee/ caffeine may have negative effects such as stomach irritation, jitteriness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and increased heart rate.  Pregnant women are also advised to target less than 200 mg of caffeine daily, equivalent to 2 cups of coffee.

Coffee drinkers need to be careful when adding condiments to their drink.  Condiments may reduce or counter coffee’s healthy attributes. 

Findings also indicate that by Suddenly stopping caffeine intake, people may experience headache, fatigue, anxiety, and low mood for a few days persisting for up to a week. 

Well, there you have it. Depending on your own body or circumstances, you can sip your favorite drink knowing there are subsequent health benefits.

The Supply Chain And How It Effects Your Local Break Room

The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a large disruption in the supply chain that is being felt across the world. Restarting a high-demand global economy after a recession has been clunky and jerky like a sputtering old car.  

So many factors have combined to make this issue go deeper and last longer than first expected. There are many full containers sitting in port, and it will take months before this bottleneck works its way back into a normal rhythm. Another factor causing this disruption is the lack of personnel and getting people back to work. Many companies have also adopted new operational processes for social distancing and other COVID protocols that are less efficient. Add other major items to the mix, like the shortage of automobile chips, and you have a perfect storm. 

What has changed in the world of vending, micro markets, and coffee services? 

First, product availability has been a major issue. Many of our manufacturers have run out of popular brands and can’t keep up with demand. One day we will receive an item and on the following delivery, we are shorted. The manufacturers have not been forthcoming about whether the outage is a short-term or long-term issue. If we know it to be a short-term issue, we wait for the product to return; however, if the shortage is more than a couple of days, we can replace the item with a different one. A sudden move to a new item has also created shortages of the new item. This can cause empty spirals or columns.

We’ve also had several scheduled deliveries canceled because our suppliers didn’t have enough drivers to make all their deliveries.  Some of their drivers were making multiple runs but were unable to finish the week because they had already met their drivable hours for the week.

For flavored beverages that don’t have a strong brand preference, we’ve worked to keep the flavor alive by buying the flavor from whichever manufacturer has the flavor in stock.  When selecting an orange soda, our customers may receive Orange Crush, Orange Sunkist, or Orange Fanta. Our goals have changed and now we just try to get our customers some type of orange soda. There are many other beverages where we have had to make similar substitutions:  Gatorade vs Powerade, Minute Maid Lemonade vs Brisk Lemonade, Schweppe’s Ginger Ale vs Seagram’s Ginger Ale, 7 Up vs Sprite, and the list goes on.

There are other low-volume beverage flavors that the bottlers have just eliminated, so they can focus on their core items and the items that have higher profit margins.  Whether or not these flavors return is yet to be determined.

One of our major distributors has openly shared their in-bound rates and shockingly, they are only receiving about 72% of the items they order. This forces A.H. to change out candy, snack, and K-Cup items to provide what’s available.

Our commissary has also been juggling our menu due to product availability. Certain meats become unavailable or their price doubles overnight. We offered a wide variety of breads and tortillas, and now these manufacturers and bakeries have reduced their offerings to focus on the core items. Currently, it is difficult to find pesto or tomato tortillas and specialized breads and buns, i.e., pretzel buns. Some of the popular, supplemental food items like Big AZ, Tyson, or Lunchables have been getting substituted with less popular items due to lack of inventory.

Code sensitive items like dairy were having issues as schools had unpredictable start dates and attendance levels. School meal trends were off, as many students were eating in the classrooms to allow for social distancing. This created one of two scenarios for us. We either couldn’t get enough milk, yogurt and juices, or the codes were shorter than we normally receive. 

Finally, the equipment and parts themselves are more difficult to obtain. If you are hoping to have new equipment installed, the timeline will be extended. As discussed earlier, parts and equipment sit in containers, so demand is much higher than current supply.

How does this affect my break room?  

Many Operators, like A.H., strive to provide an excellent customer experience. Even with all the supply chain challenges, our Team is resilient and works through these issues. We have gone through great measures to keep our points of sale full and uninterrupted. However, based on availability, we may not always have the most popular items, a column may be empty, or a different brand of the same flavor may be delivered. 

We’re very fortunate to have great customers that have been patient with product changes and outages. We’re all in this together, so being flexible and going back to some basics is what our current situation requires. Soon, the variety of offerings will go back to normal…a time when an Orange Crush will be an Orange Crush.

Micro Markets Continue To Grow

Micro Markets are set up in break rooms and provide beverages, snacks, and food to employees. An employee simply selects items from reach-in coolers, reach-in freezers, snack racks, or shelving units. Once customers have their desired items, they check out at the unattended kiosk by scanning the items’ bar codes and then pay for them right at the kiosk.

Micro Markets have been around for approximately eleven years.  When they made their debut, many people thought that choosing items from an open market and then paying for them at a kiosk was an interesting idea but would never launch. There were many perceived hurdles early on: credit cards, reward cards, unattended/self-checkout kiosk, honesty, FIFO, etc. We had a very difficult time placing our second market and had to convince the customer that we were fully committed to making this unfamiliar concept work. Our first market, however, was a very easy placement. At A.H., we set it up in our own break room to use as a showcase and to familiarize ourselves with its nuances.

Enhancing The Office Break Room

As time marched forward, the micro markets’ presentation, variety, healthier product selection, and overall positive customer experience propelled them into many of our customers’ employee breakrooms. Vending machines still have their place and are needed in many instances, but more and more clients want the open market feel. Comparing vending machines to micro markets is like purchasing a cup of coffee through a drive-through window versus going into the coffee shop to buy it.  The drive-through window is quick and convenient, but the coffee shop provides a great experience and allows you to see the wide variety of items offered. 

When you first walk into a break room that has a micro market, you will notice the open and inviting retail atmosphere that a market creates. Brightly lit coolers, well-merchandised products, attractive graphics, and promotional monitors immediately create an interactive feeling. 

With the increased variety in a market, there is generally something for everyone. The overall number of beverage and snack offerings from respective manufacturers has increased greatly. While soda is still popular, functional drinks continue to gain market share. Whether it is energy, antioxidants, or other healthy supplemental ingredients, these new-age drinks have a wide fan base. Healthier snacks have also come a long way, and A.H. offers many delicious, guilt-free items. We also provide over-the-counter medicines and separate individual salad dressings so customers can enjoy crisp salads with their favorite dressing. 

Full-Service Office Program

The kiosk is connected to the internet, so A.H. can see real-time sales.  We know exactly what to bring the next service and can quickly observe emerging trends. If a refund is needed, this connectivity allows us to view transactions, confirm the refund, and apply it to your account.  Lost market cards that are registered can also have funds moved to new cards. Just notify us and we will move your funds from one card to a new card.

Our customers can also use an App to easily make purchases.  After checking your items, just hold your phone to the scanner and the transaction will be completed. You can view your account from your app or by going online. Your account will provide purchase history, promotions index (buy 4, get the fifth free), reward points, and your balance. One of the most underrated features is the automatic re-load setting.  When funds go below a certain level, additional funds are added to your market card account from your designated credit card, and an email confirmation is sent to you. 

Micro Market cards are provided to our customers, and they are used to store value on them. Purchasing from your micro market card or from the app is quick with the added bonus of earning promotions and reward points at the same time. 

Micro Market Solutions

Cameras used for customer compliance also adds breakroom security.  Several times we have been asked to look for other incidents that occurred in the break room. Surveillance will offer some safety assurances, but we only access it when needed. 

Micro Markets use less energy than typical vending and can save on energy costs to assist companies with their LEED Program. Efficient, LED lighting accompanied by low voltage coolers help to create a green footprint.

Micro Markets are very reliable. Most of the transactions occur with payment cards: credit, debit, or stored value cards. Even though markets can accept cash, coins are not an option. Kiosks will not accept nor payout coins……a major source for vending service calls.  It does not happen often, but with micro markets you won’t need to worry about products hanging up or drawers not opening as with vending machines.

Finally, Micro Markets have few to no touch points when making a purchase. This will give you peace of mind and complete a great micro market experience.