In a recent news story about a breakthrough in inventory control was announced by Mahlkönig. This is an absolutely brilliant idea. Without the reader sensing where the grounds are from the grinder will not run. What's more, if the bag shows one kilo, then the built in scale will dose exactly one kilo of ground beans before asking for a new proof of purchase before grinding any more beans. These grinders are not cheap - often they cost a couple thousand dollars for the multiple grind K60 series to well over a thousand dollars for the K30 series grinder. If a roaster or supplier gives you thousands of dollars worth of free equipment and asks that you only use their coffee then the agreement should be followed through by the recipient. Now the dishonest shop (think of someone putting Walmart soda in a Coke machine) will have to honor the agreement or buy their own equipment (which they should have done in the first place.
Here is an excerpt from the news article:
"While the new RFID MAHLKÖNIG upgrade isn’t reloadable using an iphone and a computer, it is a real breakthrough for roasters who provide free espresso machines for coffee bars. Until now, roasters couldn’t control whether their customers used only their coffee in the free espresso machines and grinders provided, or substituted another brand. With the new RFID (radio frequency Identification) equipped grinders, the customer has to have a RF code on the label from the roaster for the machine to grind. When the amount indicated from the code on the Smart Label has been ground, the machine stops."
The article finishes this section by asking this question:
"It leaves one wondering: It wasn’t mentioned in the marketing materials what happens if a customer were to buy another less discriminating coffee grinder, so that they could grind any roaster’s beans."
Well wonder no further - the shop that purchases a grinder on their own is free to run what ever they want to in that grinder as there are no electronic controls needed to protect the rights of a third party. A shop likely to purchase their own grinders and other equipment is not the one the system is designed to safeguard the distributor from. These guys at Mahlkönig are on the ball with their excellent build quality and their innovative business solutions for the coffee industry. I admit I am biased since I do use some of their gear and have a serious appreciation for the line.