‘3.8 million cups of coffee a year in the name of quality assurance.’
Twenty-four automatic machines stand perfectly marshalled, like soldiers on parade, in four rows on the testing benches in the room with the door that reads: ‘Laboratory’. The aroma of coffee hangs heavy in the air. An engineer walks past every single station, meticulously inspecting hundreds of figures on the screens and, blinking somewhat short-sightedly, makes his notes. Whistling some catchy melody, he more or less succeeds in blanking out the noise of grinders and pumps and the hissing of steam and the pneumatic components on the testing devices. ‘Welcome to the torture chamber,’ he grins. ‘Here, in the space of a few short weeks, we simulate several years of operation.’ Before new components receive the green light to go into production, they have to prove themselves under the toughest conditions in the laboratory. Random samples from series production regularly end up on the testing bench as part of our policy for guaranteeing perfect quality. ‘For the quality assurance fatigue tests, we need 30 tons of coffee a year. We use it to make about four million cups,’ he says, working it out. All the coffee used comes from our in-house roasting plant. It’s stored in containers as big as chest-type freezers and conveyed through pipes to the test stations. Fully automatically, needless to say. And what do you do with 30 tons of coffee grounds? ‘Ecologically speaking, our automatic machines are the best choice available because they don’t produce any waste. Only coffee grounds, and they are one hundred percent compostable. They go directly from our labs to a composting plant, where they are integrated into the fertilizers used in gardening and agriculture,’ says the tester, but lets us in on a secret: he spreads the grounds from the machine he has in his kitchen at home around the roses in his garden. ‘There’s nothing better for flowers,’ he states emphatically.