Melbourne now has a coffee vending machine

Published on 20 August 2020

Photo: Market Lane's coffee-bean vending machine (credit: Abigail Varney)

Want coffee 24-7? You got it, thanks to a machine selling top-quality beans and other brewing essentials, all day, every day.

A vending machine selling specialty coffee could be the most Melbourne thing to happen to Melbourne. But if you’ve woken up on a Saturday morning to find the house without beans and several hours to wait until your local café opens, surely this can only be a good addition to our city streets. Plus, there’s something cool about buying things other than soft drink from vending machines, as any visitor to Japan would agree.

Market Lane installed the city’s first coffee-bean vending machine outside its Brunswick East HQ last week, stocked with beans and filter papers so you can buy coffee whenever the need strikes. (Or at least whenever you can inside the current COVID restrictions.)

The team tossed around the idea last year when they were building their new roastery, thinking it could be a way to serve customers in the neighbourhood while keeping the roasting facility strictly business.

“We’ve long been inspired by the vending-machine culture in Japan,” says Market Lane co-founder Fleur Studd. “Our roastery felt like the perfect place to install one.”

When COVID and social distancing became a daily consideration in Melbourne, the vending-machine dream became a priority project.

“The idea suddenly felt very urgent and relevant, as it allowed people to buy from us in a contactless manner.”

The machine is refrigerated at 12 degrees and fitted with UV-tinted glass to keep the beans fresh, and is restocked regularly with espresso and filter coffee roasted next door. Papers are suitable for Moccamaster, Aeropress and pourover brewing.

The response from customers has been enthusiastic.

“It’s early days yet for numbers,” says Studd. “But we are having to fill up the machine each day to make sure we don’t run out.”

The only question is: will there be more machines giving us coffee on demand? Could St Ali unveil the Saving Grace machine? Will Dukes create a King of Convenience lookalike? Market Lane say they’re open to adding machines in more locations, provided they can keep them stocked with fresh beans easily.

“Having it next to the roastery means we can service it really well and be on hand if there are issues. If we installed any others we would want to ensure we could service them in the same way.”

We have a feeling the rest of the city could be petitioning for machines in their ’hood: watch this space.

Market Lane’s vending machine is located at 126 Weston St, Brunswick East. Open 24/7.

By Emma Breheny

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