By James Wells
SYDNEY: Sunbeam has defended aspects of an unbalanced report by Nine Network’s A Current Affair on the espresso machine category where Sunbeam’s coffee ambassador, Paul Bassett, was one of four baristas that judged his own espresso machine as the best in terms coffee quality and value for money.
In the report, Bassett joined three other baristas to judge machines distributed by Sunbeam as well as machines manufactured by Krups, Philips, Saeco and Breville.
Sunbeam was the only brand with more than one model included in the judging with three machines. A De’Longhi Magnifica fully automatic machine, which was filmed in the story, was not judged.
Sunbeam claims that A Current Affair chose to do the segment independently and the producers of the show chose who they said were four of the finest baristas in Australia. Sunbeam believes that any conflict of interest with Paul Bassett and Rob Forsyth was explicitly acknowledged.
During the interview, Bassett claimed there was a five year commercial warranty on the Twin Thermoblock Twin Pump espresso machine which is part of the Sunbeam Cafe Series.
Sunbeam marketing manager – kitchen appliances, Damian Court, has since told current.com.au that the warranty is only a five year pump guarantee.
Not only was Bassett used as a judge, he was also used to introduce the segment.
"I think Australians have a love affair not only with coffee, but it seems espresso and everyone wants to have an espresso machine sitting up on their bench in their kitchen and they want to impress their friends making great coffee," said Bassett who was referred to as World Barista Champion.
Bassett won the award in 2003.
According to Court, winners of the award are “eternally ‘World Barista Champion’ for the year that they have won. They are no longer required or permitted to enter the World Barista Championships.”
Bassett was not identified during the story as being paid by Sunbeam as an ambassador of the company’s range of coffee machines as well as working the company on a series of coffee schools and co-branded espresso DVDs.
“Bassett was identified during the story as working with Sunbeam through the launch of the joint branded espresso machine. ACA refers to our EM6900 as the ‘Paul Bassett designed Sunbeam manual machine’,” Court said.
According to the four judges, the best product in terms of coffee quality and value for money was the Sunbeam Twin Pump Twin Thermoblock Café Series espresso machine – the same product that Bassett himself endorses and helped create with Sunbeam’s design department.
“We are extremely proud of our Australian designed and developed EM6900 and believe it is the best domestic espresso machine in the world,” Court said.
In a further embarrassment, the Breville 800ES espresso machine was incorrectly identified as being part of Café Series – a trademark used by Sunbeam to describe its café-quality appliances.