Vancouver is one of the best coffee cities in the world – Vancouverites love their coffee shops as much as Londoner love their pubs. Our corporate member Quality Coffee Systems (QCS) entered the coffee business almost 20 years ago and today they have clients such as UBC, Costco or Whistler Blackcomb.
950 coffee shops appear on the review page Yelp when you are looking for coffee and tea places in Vancouver. Every neighborhood has its particular coffee shops, representing the flair of their part of the city. But did you know that a growing number of coffee shops is working with Swiss coffee machines? Our corporate member QCS is providing many places all over the city with Swiss coffee machines mainly Schaerer and Jura, super automatic espresso machines. They also represent the European brands Conti and WMF in Western Canada. We got the chance to talk to Roger Knecht, owner and Fabian Lemann, Sales and Marketing Director at QCS.
QCS is an expert for coffee and juice solutions, how did you build up your network in this industry?
QCS was founded as a father/son partnership in January 1998. At the beginning, automatic espresso machines were almost non-existent in North America. The price for our Swiss machines were twice the cost of the traditional Italian machines in the market and it was very hard to find customers.
In 1999, we agreed to an espresso machine test with Costco and they eventually picked us in competition with an Italian manufacturer.
We started to install machines all over Canada and we had to train and set up service vendors everywhere we placed machines. In those days, we were flying all over the place.
In 2000, we introduced our Swiss machines to Starbucks and after a 6 month field test, they decided to replace all 3000 machines in North America with our brand.
In 2001, we hired our first service technician and we are now up to 5. Today we perform equipment service, not only for our own units but also for many other companies like Starbucks, Illy Coffee roasters and Lavazza coffee.
Today, we are the official representative for WMF coffee, Schaerer, CONTI, as well as the BC distributor and official service center for JURA espresso machines (residential and professional).
What are the biggest opportunities in BC for a business like QCS?
BC continues to be a Canadian trend setter for specialty coffee and QCS is at the forefront as an equipment supplier. Over the last two years, QCS could grow the business, and sales went up by 15%.
What are the biggest challenges in BC for a business like QCS?
The online explosion invites a lot of competition from elsewhere. Customer are trying to save money buying espresso equipment outside the province. It is a challenge to explain the benefits of a local purchase due to the service support and personal relationship factors.
Furthermore, larger global companies are taking over local companies we have a good relationships with. This leads to a shift of business development decisions and centralizes head-offices to one global location.
You provide commercial coffee machines, which coffee shops in Vancouver produce coffee with your products?
We have clients ranging from small “mum and pap” operations up to large companies like Save on Foods, Costco, UBC, Vancouver Airport, Fairmont, Marriott, Whistler Blackcomb, Nesters Market, and many more.
Tim Hortons recently started a new campaign – they equipped over 3,500 restaurants across Canada with new, innovative espresso machines – your Schaerer espresso machines (read more “Tim Hortons franchisees asked to invest $12K in new espresso machine“). Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
In spring 2016, Tim Hortons approached Schaerer and after an initial lab test, Schaerer was chosen as one of two manufacturers to participate in a 6 months field test.
Last fall, the decision was made in Schaerer’s favour and over the past 4 months, 3500 machines were rolled-out and installed across Canada. We are servicing all lower mainland locations.
What is the next big thing for QCS?
We have recently ventured into citrus juice machines made by ZUMEX in Spain. We are the official representative of the brand in Western Canada. The healthy food and beverage industry, as well as the juice scene is expected to grow over the next years.
We are also pursuing the creation of a high quality specialty coffee vending machine which would be a new product on the global market.
Quality Coffee Systems: www.qualitycoffeesystems.ca
Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce: www.swisscanadianchamber.com
The SCCC would like to thank our member Roger Knecht and Fabian Lemann for their time and effort spent for this article.