No topic of conversation at the coffee machine at work? Complain about the quality of your coffee, and the chances of acclaim are high. Why do we find vending machine coffee so dirty?

The Dutch are coffee lovers. 82 percent of the Dutch drink coffee every week, 67 percent daily. On average we drink 4.1 cups of coffee per day. Coffee & Tea Netherlands, branch association for Dutch coffee and tea companies, investigated this.

We drink that coffee at home, in trendy coffee bars, we get to-go at the station and we tap from coffee machines in the office.

"You don't make a good cappuccino with milk powder" Coffee expert Merijn Gijsbers

We think the quality of our office coffee is rather important and the image of vending machine coffee is not good. Why do we find vending machine coffee so dirty? We asked coffee sommelier Merijn Gijsbers, who won the Dubai International Coffee Championship this month.

Reason 1: One bean is not the other.

Most offices have meanwhile replaced their machines with instant coffee with vending machines where the beans are freshly ground, says Gijsbers, but that does not immediately result in great espressos, lungos or cappuccinos.

Gijsbers: "The beans in the vending machines are often of low quality, they are a bit older or not roasted properly. The quality of the bean depends on an enormous number of factors: how high the plant grows, the temperature, the method of harvesting, which plants around it, whether the berries are harvested ripe or not, or dried in the sun. "

In theory, a coffee bean can earn a hundred points in the assessment by international test panels. Then they meet all requirements. If a bean type has eighty or more points, the coffee falls into the specialty coffee category. These beans are not used in vending machines, says Gijsbers, and that makes the coffee of lesser quality anyway than when a barista prepares it fresh.

The beans that we use for our coffee can be roughly divided into two categories, says Gijsbers: arabica and robusta. "The arabica beans generally have a more complex taste and their quality is perceived as better than robusta beans. You can find the latter in the coffee machines."

Reason 2: Milk powder is used for the cappuccino

The foam layer on your cappuccino should be creamy and firm, according to the coffee expert. A vending machine cannot. "Although the espresso technology is good, the powdered milk negates its quality." The powdered milk must be mixed with water to get a milky drink that is added to the espresso. This changes the taste of the espresso.

“Milk foam must have very fine bubbles for a nice mouthfeel. A vending machine cannot do that ”Coffee expert Merijn Gijsbers

"The milk has to be whipped into foam with tiny bubbles that you can't even see anymore. This makes it firm and creamy and gives you a pleasant mouthfeel. The machine cannot do that and the bubbles become too large. The milk is then not creamy in taste but watery and it does not mask the bitter taste of the espresso. Sugar may have been added to the milk powder. "

Reason 3: A rush is rarely good.

A vending machine can make a cup of coffee within a few seconds and the drink loses quality. "The finer the coffee ground, the longer the contact time between the coffee and the water. Compare it with a brick and a box of sand. Sand slowly drips through water, and water flows down quickly past rocks. Because vending machines are set to produce coffee as quickly as possible, the bean is coarsely ground, into little stones instead of sand. The result is that the taste is not extracted from the bean. "

Although the bean is fresh and of good quality, grinding it requires a technique that a vending machine does not have at home. "18 of the 22 substances in the bean have to dissolve. That does not work with the grinding technique in a machine and so you do not get the best out of the bean."

Reason 4: Our taste evolves (thanks to Senseo)

Not long ago we all drank the same filter coffee, put in one big pot. That changed thanks to the Senseo device. "All of a sudden there were all kinds of flavors and different coffees available. In the morning you could take a Brazilian coffee and later in the afternoon one from Ethiopia. We quickly developed our taste and became more demanding."

"Compare it with wine: you probably drink more and different types of wine now than when you just started drinking wine. Senseo has opened the door to taste development, to the need for a challenge in our coffee culture. We taste the difference between good and bad coffee better through the wider range. "

Reason 5: The engineer has the greatest influence

The final link in making coffee, says the world's best barista, is the maker. "In the case of vending machine coffee, that is the mechanic. I regularly hear that people walk to work at a different department because the coffee is better there. The mechanic adjusts how coarse the coffee is ground, how quickly the lead time and how long the contact time. If he is instructed to let coffee run as quickly as possible because the boss wants to prevent waiting times at the machine, that influences the taste of the coffee. "