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Kickstart a Successful Coffee Vending Machine Business

Thinking about starting or giving a boost to your coffee machine vending business? This power-packed guide has all you need to win.


Coffee vending machines are becoming increasingly popular options for vending business owners to include in their vending selection. The vast majority of adults in North America will have at least one cup of coffee each day, and many choose not to prepare their caffeine fix at home. Coffee vending machines are a wonderful resource in high-traffic areas: they are beneficial to everyone. There's a strong reason behind why these vending machines are so popular in a country with most vending machines per capita. Below, we’ll explore what coffee vending machines are, why you want them, and how to successfully start a business with coffee vending machine.

What Are Coffee Vending Machines and Why Do You Want Them?

Coffee vending machines are self-service terminals that vend multiple types of coffee, hot chocolate, other hot drinks, or just high-quality coffee beans if an owner decides it makes sense to fit it in. These modern vending machines attract coffee enthusiasts and coffee lovers but also people who are in grave need for a quick boost in morale and energy.

Coffee vending machines are a great business opportunity whether you are just starting out in the vending industry, or you’d like to expand your current offerings as a company. There are many types of coffee vending machines to choose from, and this type of vending service comes with a number of benefits for the owners and the locations they are placed in. Just as many other types of vending machines, they are a part of growing, not dying industry. Let’s take a look at what they are, and how these vending machines work.

Types of Coffee Vending Machines

There are numerous types of coffee vending machines to choose from. They can be categorized by size, payment system, and type of coffee they offer.

When it comes to size, coffee vending machines can come in table-top models or full-size stand-up models. Full-size models will almost always be paired with instant coffee and will cost more than table-top models. However, they have a much higher serving capacity (500 cups or more per fill) and are more secure.

Table-top models are less expensive than full-size machines and are more suitable for office building break rooms and similarly private spaces. They can be used with instant coffee powder, granules, full beans, or pods. These coffee vending machines will have a lower serving capacity but can be used to make specialty coffees and other types of beverages as well. They are also versatile when it comes to the water line setup; they may be attached to a large water jug or connected directly to the main water line in a building.

There is a fair amount of diversity when it comes to payment systems built into coffee vending machines. Some businesses offer their employees free coffee vending machines, but this is fairly rare. The main types of payment systems include traditional cash and coin-operated machines, a card reader system for debit/credit cards or even EBT cards, a system for Cash Apple or Apple pay transactions, or a convenient tap-and-go setup for preloaded cards.

Benefits of Owning a Coffee Vending Machine

There are numerous benefits associated with owning a coffee vending machine. First of all, they don’t require as much stocking as snack or drink vending machines. You don't have to fret over an exceptional customer service or market trends too much. They require the compatible type of coffee, cups, sugar, milk, and hopefully high-quality coffee beans. That’s it. These supplies are much easier to manage than large shipments of food items and drinks.

Coffee vending machines are also among most profitable vending machines, as the same people may purchase a cup of coffee multiple times a day, every day. This revenue is more reliable than other types of vending services.

Benefits of Coffee Vending Machines for the Location

Whether an individual likes their coffee latte style, cappuccino style, traditional cup of joe, or just some hot chocolate, a coffee vending machine can provide them with their favorite drink. They can even offer variations of hot chocolate and other types of hot beverages such as cider. This is one of their main benefits for any location—no one has to be left out even when only a single machine is available.

Locations that offer coffee vending machines, whether they are public spaces or business-related, become much more appealing than counterparts that lack this amenity. They attract coffee enthusiasts and coffee lovers that need a quick and easy access to their favorite cup of Joe. Coffee vending machine can make a business more desirable to potential employees and customers, improve morale, and generate some additional income to help maintain a high standard in the space.

Here are just a few locations where coffee vending machines could bear fruit:

  • Airports. a long flight, a long layover, exhausing onboarding process - people crave coffee on airports and are accustomed to paying more for a cup.
  • Office spaces. Coffee and office, they are a match made in heaven.
  • Hospitals. Patients are mostly not allowed to leave the confines of their rooms and nearby halls. That's why "nearby halls" are a perfect spot for a coffee vending machines. Both for patients and visiting friends looking for a little chat over coffee.
  • Malls. High traffic that malls offer are perfect place to keep your machines hot and working.
  • Gyms. Coffee is known to be the best pre-workout stimulant. Also the staff at the gym will be looking for hot drinks to space out.
  • Parks. A perfect spot for coffee to go and enjoy the view.
  • College campuses. Loads of studying require loads of coffee.
  • Check out ultimate list of vending locations to find more interesting ideas

How Coffee Vending Machines Work

Coffee vending machines, also referred to as coffee dispenser machines, are fairly easy to understand. They are stocked with cups, coffee beans, water, and additives like milk and sugar that allow each individual to achieve their ideal coffee experience. They vend coffee, of course, but also hot drinks like hot chocolate, depending on the machine type and owner's preferences.

Once payment is received, the user selects the type and size of coffee they’d like. The vending machine can then operate in one of two ways. Most machines will prepare the cup of coffee entirely in the machine, but others will pour the coffee out into a waiting cup instead.

A portion of hot water will be mixed with the instant coffee powder, granules, freshly ground coffee beans, or pod contents that vending machines are compatible with, combined with the user’s preference for milk and/or sugar, and then will deliver the coffee to the customer.

If you want to find more, here's a complete guide on how coffee vending machines work.

How Much Does a Coffee Vending Machine Cost?

a coffee being poured in a cup from a vending machine

The cost of a coffee vending machine is a factor that will require consideration before jumping into the business feet first. Starting costs, restocking costs, and location costs should all be considered and planned for in order to ensure a successful and financially-sound startup.

Starting Costs

One of the most significant costs associated with the initial phase - aside from forming an LLC - of a vending business is the purchase of the machine. Coffee vending machines can range in price anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Different price points will be dominated by certain types of machines; for example, the higher end of the market will likely be dedicated to custom vending machines and smart vending machines with an advanced credit card reader, Wi-Fi connectivity, inventory management features, and other features.

There will also be fluctuations in the startup price depending on how accessible the vending machine location is (whether the vending owner already owns a space or needs to rent one), what kind of advertising will be used to attract customers, and how much money needs to be spent on supplies and additional equipment upfront.

If you're looking to save on starting costs, make sure you check these three pieces:

Cost of Restocking

In addition to the initial investment price, the cost of restocking on a regular basis also requires some consideration. The type of coffee a vending machine uses will be the largest determining factor of restocking costs. Powdered instant coffee will be the most affordable type, and pod coffees will be one of the most expensive. There will be variations in price and quality within each category as well.

However, you’ll also need to think about how far each batch of coffee will go: pods may be more expensive, but they will also be used in vending machines that are placed in lower-traffic areas. Large vending machines that use instant coffee and are placed in high-traffic areas may end up needing to be restocked at a higher frequency, even though they also supply more cups of coffee per fill. The speed at which the machine empties will also affect the restocking costs, not just the actual price of the supplies.

Location Costs

Unless you are starting a coffee vending business as a company that already owns or pays for the site where the vending machine will be installed, location costs also need to be considered on a long-term basis. First, reaching out to potential prospects takes time and money: you have to practice the craft of writing proposals, prepare the contracts, etc. Also, renting space for a coffee vending machine can vary widely in price. You can buy an existing vending route or find a service that finds locations for you. You’ll want to do your research and ensure your machine will be profitable before committing to a high rental price for a prime location.

What Are the Best Coffee Vending Machines?

The best coffee vending machine will mean something different to everybody, but there is a general consensus reached by industry experts about the best coffee vending machine brands and individual machines.

Best Brands

When it comes to coffee vending brands, the list of top-tier companies includes Bravilor Bonomat, Bianchi Vending Group, Rhea Vendors, and more.

Bravilor machines are known for their simplicity; in a world characterized by ever-increasing complexity and technical sophistication, there still comes a time when simplicity is best. For any vending business owners keen on easy-to-use machines that vend hot drinks, Bravilor is the brand to choose.

Bianchi Vending Group is known for the overall value of their machines. They are the ideal choice for any vending owner who loves to get the most out of each penny spent. The Bianchi machines will offer aesthetic appeal and affordability in equal measure.

Rhea Vendors is one of the most well-known names in the vending world, and for good reason. The customizability of their machines is unparalleled, and although this does also raise the complexity of the machines, it ensures each business can have its needs met to perfection.

There are many other wonderful vending brands out there that can provide excellent quality coffee machines—these are just a few of the most notable selections.

Best Machines

If you’re more interested in hearing about the best machines that vend hot drinks rather than companies to work with, we’ve got you covered there too. Some of the best coffee vending machines on the market include the Jura Giga 5 automatic coffee vending machine, the Bianchi Lei SA automatic coffee machine, and the Mcilpoog WS-203 super-automatic espresso coffee machine.

The Jura Giga 5 is a tabletop machine that is highly customizable and built with quality as a priority. It is equipped with two thermometers to guarantee the right temperatures for brewing, it offers 5 distinct coffee and espresso drinks each and has versatile settings that can cater to anyone’s brew preferences.

The Bianchi Lei SA is the ideal chosen for reliably high-traffic areas such as hotel lobbies and large retail stores. It can provide 700 cups of coffee before needing to be restocked and offers an elite aesthetic appeal that is sure to attract customers. Its touchscreen interface and ease of use are highly desirable, too.

The Mcilpoog WS-203 is the best espresso machine for the small office setting. It can brew up to 10 cups of espresso with each fill of its 1.5 L water tank, and it boasts a whopping 16 types of espresso to give every customer their ideal caffeine fix. Its auto-cleaning function is a major bonus.

Are Coffee Vending Machines Profitable?

Coffees in a plastic cup vended from a coffee vending machines

As long as they are set up right, coffee vending machines are indeed profitable. People don’t always have the time to wait in a coffee shop line for their morning brew, and a fresh cup of coffee can be a great pick-me-up during a long shift at work. Coffee vending machines are therefore highly desirable to consumers and a great market for vending owners to tap into.

The keys to making a coffee vending machine business profitable are choosing the right location, choosing the right type of hot beverages to sell for the target audience, and maintaining stock levels at all times.

A great location is one of the most influential factors when it comes to generating and then increasing the profits of a coffee vending machine. High foot traffic, accessibility, and the right consumer base are the essential components of a location that make a coffee vending machine profitable.

Paying attention to which type of coffee sells best in a particular location is the best way to increase profits: simply make it more available. If a coffee machine owner maintains great stock levels of highly desirable products in a high-traffic location, there is almost no way the coffee vending machine business cannot turn a profit. In most circumstances, a coffee vending machine will generate a profit between 30 and 70%.

Coffee Vending Machine Business Plan

As you get started on your journey to becoming a coffee vending business owner, one of your first steps should be coming up with a well-rounded business plan. Let’s take a look at why it is important and what steps you should be following.

Importance of a Business Plan

One of the most important reasons to develop a business plan is to acquire an understanding of the industry before investing in it. Not only does this prepare someone for the ups and downs of the business, but it can help a new vending owner avoid mistakes and find success much easier.

A business plan is also crucial for ensuring that some one has all the tools and information they need to get started. Starting a vending machine business is not an easy task, and there are many steps involved in the startup process. A business plan is a great way to prepare for the road ahead and have something to fall back on with confidence when unforeseen circumstances come up.

Steps to Writing a Good Business Plan for a Coffee Vending Machine Business

There are many components involved in an effective business plan. Each step is essential for designing a business that will be profitable and sustainable. The steps are as follows:

1.     Outline the Purpose of the Startup. This step will give you a guiding light to direct your actions whenever you get lost in the chaos of a new business. You can highlight your goals, your reason for starting, and how you see the business progressing.

2.     Conduct Market Analysis. It is impossible to create a plan for a business without understanding the current market in your area. Market analysis involves investigating the end needs of your target consumers and identifying the best locations for your business; in this case, it will be wherever there is a demand for a coffee vending machine that is not being met.

3.     Describe the Target Audience. Understanding the segments of your target demographic will make it easier to decide on the appropriate type and size of coffee vending machine that will optimize your investment.

4.     Estimate the Budget and Revenue. Financials are the main measurement of success in a business, and it is important to protect your resources to an extent until you are certain that they will be returned in the form of profits. This is especially important while you are still paying off the vending machine. Following a budget and estimating what your revenue should be will help you conserve money, lower your risk, and measure your progress as time goes on.

5.     Assess the Risk Factors. Every entrepreneur faces risk when they get started with a new venture. A clear understanding of those risks can be a very helpful thing—it allows you to prepare for them and hopefully avoid them altogether.

6.     Come Up with Action Plans. Action plans are exactly what they sound like: feasible plans that can be put into action in order to accomplish a goal. They will help optimize efficiency and ensure you know exactly how to get from point A to point B at every step in the coffee vending journey.

7.     Build a Timeline. A timeline is an invaluable tool for new vending owners. With a timeline to follow, you’ll be able to keep track of every task that needs to be done in order of importance, consider time constraints, and make progress at a steady rate.

Best Locations to Place Coffee Vending Machines

Lavazza coffee vending machine in a dark room next to snack vending machine

Lavazza coffee vending machine in a dark room next to snack vending machine

One of the main factors that make coffee vending machines profitable is the location. It’s true that the location can make or break a coffee vending machine business, and that is why it is so important to do your research and take your time when choosing a space for your new venture. A list of locations that are typically profitable can be found below, along with a short explanation of their relevance.

Office Buildings

Office buildings are one of the best locations for coffee vending machines: mental work can be just as taxing as physical labor, and a caffeine fix on a break from vending machines can dramatically boost an employee’s morale and productivity for the rest of their shift. Plus, these spaces offer a steady stream of potential customers, ones that will likely use the vending machine every day, if not more than once.


Coffee vending machines in motels will be exposed to a never-changing customer base in combination with a steady stream of potential customers. Since motels won’t offer the same amenities as a hotel and may be located in fairly secluded areas that don’t offer coffee shops within range, a coffee vending machine can become very profitable and much appreciated by the customers.

College Dorms

College and university campus dorms are another great location for coffee vending machines. Young adults may drink several cups of coffee a day to fuel late-night study sessions and wake up in time for their early morning classes. These vending machines are also fast enough to provide a caffeine fix in between classes when time is short.


Patrons of gyms and fitness clubs would benefit greatly from convenient access to a coffee vending machine. The selections can provide a way to fuel up before or after a workout session, and it’s great for the employees, too.

Train Stations

Train stations are amazing places for high-stock coffee vending machines. Commuters are often in a hurry and may have to skip their coffee on busy mornings; a coffee vending machine could be their saving grace. Train stations offer a nearly constant flow of pedestrian traffic and will dramatically elevate the reach of a coffee vending machine (and your profits).

Amusement Parks & Nature Parks

Parents and solo adults wandering around amusement parks or nature parks are a great target audience for a coffee vending machine. Let’s face it, kids can be exhausting, and a midday coffee may be exactly what these parents need to refuel for the rest of the family adventure.

Wrapping Up

Overall, a coffee vending machine business is a great way to get started in the vending industry or expand a business that is already booming. With the right startup strategy, everyone can find success in this venture. The versatility of the vending machines ensures that every location will be well-served and every customer can achieve their perfect cup at any time of the day.

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