The Rise of the Auto Frother
There is now a growing trend within the industry for machines to come with 'auto frothers' fitted to the machine. Whilst in practice the idea may seem like a good option, little is said about the down side of auto frothers.
First lets take a look at the positive side of these skill saving devices. Having one fitted to your machine, greatly reduces the amount of skill or training involved in your staff requirements. In most cases, the only requirement from the operator is the ability to pour some cold milk into a jug and press a button, then just wait for the machine to do the rest, at some point in the not too distant future after pressing the button, pour said finished milk into the cup, simple right?
However, if there is a positive, does there have to be a negative? of course, its the basic law of physics.. as with most labour saving devices, the trade off is usually lack of versatility and time requirements. The human barista is blessed with terrific hand/eye coordination and the ability to adapt on the fly, up against these characteristics mean that auto frothers are not the fastest toy out of the box, and in general can only cope with one type of milk based offering.
So the negatives start to build up.
- Average auto frother can take up to twice as long to froth than a low skilled barista using a steam wand
- Changes in milk consistency due to either fat content or milk type often requires reprogramming the frother
- Some can leave a plastic taint to the milk
- Can't handle hot chocolate based drinks
- Increased maintenance cost
We are sure that the technology used will improve as time goes by, but if your buying a traditional espresso machine in the first place for the theatre it offers to your paying customers, do you really want to start automating the performance and leaving your audience short changed?