Our History: Vending Machines to Office Coffee Machines

Posted by Paula Poots on


Offica Barista office coffee machines logo

Office Barista is part of Ratio Brand Distribution, a third-generation family business, operating in Belfast since 1967, Dublin since 1975 and Glasgow since 2014. We provide over 7 million drinks and 1.6 million snacks annually to customers across the UK and Ireland.

STARTING OUT
The business was founded by AEW Steen in 1967. The original company name was Service Sales, reflecting the dedication to customer service that is still a core value of the business today.

After qualifying as a charted accountant with ICI, John Steen joined the business in 1976. In the early days the business focussed strongly on cigarette vending, hot drinks and contract catering.

FOCUSING ON VENDING 

As hot drinks vending became more popular the vending side of the business grew rapidly. Eventually the decision was taken to specialise in this area.

The business became a supplier to a number of large Belfast employers such as Michelin, Belfast Ropeworks and Harland and Wolff.

GROWTH AND EXPANSION
In the early 1980s in-cup vending became an increasingly large and important market. Recognising an opportunity, the company created its own packing plant.

The competitive pricing that this enabled provided another period of rapid growth for the business.

In 1988 the company was approached by Four Square UK (now Mars Drinks) and became the exclusive distributor of the KLIX system in Ireland. The strength of KLIX technology and an exclusive branded drinks range further strengthened the in-cup offering and contributed to the expansion of the fully-managed vending services in Belfast and Dublin.

LEADING THE WAY IN SINGLE-SERVING COFFEE
In the early 1990s Mars Drinks created a new hot drinks system, Dimension 3. The core of the system was an innovative freshpack technology which allowed the perfect preservation and brewing of roast and ground coffee and fresh leaf tea.

Dimension 3 evolved into the Flavia coffee machine range, still one of our most popular hot drinks machine ranges. The ability to provide fresh roast and ground coffee and real leaf tea from Flavia drinks brands such as Alterra coffee and Taylors of Harrogate, in the workplace proved extremely popular and the turnover of the Flavia coffee and tea machine business grew rapidly.

Flavia Logo, Flavia Office Coffee Machines, Flavia Creation 500, Flavia Barista Machine

BEAN TO CUP COFFEE MACHINES

In 2008 Ratio entered the growing bean to cup market which opened up opportunities in the hospitality and catering markets. Italy's favourite Lavazza coffee was added to round out the range and proved extremely popular.

We now offer bean to cup machines from Bravilor, CoffeeTek, N&W and Douwe Egberts Coffee Machines.

Lavazza Italy's Favourite Coffee Logo, Lavazza UK, Lavazza Coffee Beans for Bean to Cup

EFFICIENCY THROUGH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
In 2011 the company began working with Vendman, an integrated accounts and management system. Exploiting Vendman technology provided rapid efficiency gains within the business, reducing overheads whilst providing detailed management information to guarantee that key customer service standards were met.

OFFICE BARISTA

The single serve coffee machine market continued to grow, and there is a clear trend towards machines that serve high quality, freshly ground coffee and real leaf teas, so in 2014 Office Barista was created to distinguish itself from the vending machine market and cater specifically to businesses who need high quality office coffee machines but do not require a full vending solution. Your coffee cup is our passion and Office Barista has helped us intensely focus on this. 

As part of the wider Ratio family and the WISE Vending Group, Office Barista benefits from economies of scale, supplier relationships and sophisticated management systems. Together with a new Glasgow office, opened in 2014, these factors allow Office Barista to provide the very best coffee pod and bean to cup machines at the best prices on the market, right across the UK and Ireland.

Ratio continues to flourish and to provide wholesale and managed vending services to a broad customer base.

KEURIG

Keurig is the best selling coffee pod machine in North America and Office Barista was delighted to start offering it, also in 2014. The Keurig coffee machine has proven popular with customers which isn't surprising as Keurig K Cup drinks include Starbucks and Twinings Tea. 

Keurig has recently pulled out of the UK but Office Barista has now arranged to receive its Keurig stock directly from Keurig in North America so we can continue bringing you all the Keurig brands you love!

We are an authorised Keurig UK distributor and the sole distributor for Keurig Ireland. 

Keurig UK Logo, Keurig Office Coffee Machines, Keurig K150, Keurig K140, Twinings

 

THE FUTURE

Our past is important but we are extremely excited about what is in store for the future as business continues grow and we actively pursue the business practices, technology and equipment that will enable us to remain fully committed to giving our customers the best products and service in the business. 


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