By James Wells
SYDNEY: De’Longhi Australia has recommended retailers and consumers ignore the espresso report aired by A Current Affair last week.
“This was not a professional report so ignore it,” De’Longhi Australia marketing manager, Nigel Cornford told current.com.au.
“The whole test environment was biased including machine selection. They had no idea how to conduct a test. Full stop,” he said.
Cornford said that one of the judges, Paul Bassett could have influenced Sunbeam’s results as he is the company’s espresso ambassador and that this represented a potential conflict of interest. Cornford also said he felt it was unfair that another judge, Rob Forsyth, was also allowed to judge the only machine he sells.
Although A Current Affair chose three machines from Sunbeam as well as machines from Krups, Breville, Philips and Saeco to test, Cornford said it was puzzling to see the inclusion of the De’Longhi Magnifica EAM3500 fully automatic espresso machine in the report’s footage but not the judging.
“Confused is the word,” Cornford said.
“The best selling fully automatic was not mentioned at all. The obvious answer to this is it tests well,” he said.
Cornford has defended the quality of automatic machines by defending its main competitor in the category – Saeco – who received a “zero” by one judge for the quality of its coffee.
“The baristas obviously did not take the time to learn how to use the automatic machine,” he said.
Cornford said he would have preferred an independent and professional test environment. When asked whether the baristas’ familiarity with manual machines influenced the result, Cornford was adamant that incompetent judges and poor product selection were to blame.
De’Longhi general manager – sales and marketing, Tom Mitchell said the judging process should have been performed by unbiased people and their business interests should have been more clearly disclosed.
“To have Paul Bassett not disclose that he is contracted to Sunbeam in the report takes credibility from the brand and the person. I would be more upset with the report if I worked for Sunbeam as Paul made himself look amateurish at best,” Mitchell told current.com.au.
“With Paul Bassett being touted by so much media spend as the ‘World Champion Barista’ is not maintaining the high standards I normally associate with Sunbeam and its people. In short, it’s an embarrassing alliance.
“Everyone knows Paul Bassett won the championship in 2003 and the current World Champion hails from Denmark – Overdal Poulsen. It reminds me a bit of how America are ‘world champions’ in NFL football; good luck to them,” Mitchell said.
“When commenting on an industry incident we must put everything in context. Choice Magazine did something similar in one of their reports on coffee last year and again it comes back to so called ‘expert baristas’ trying to build their own image. A barista’s credentials will be established on credibility, not publicity.
“At De’Longhi, we can only look after our own back yard and concentrate on being a good partner in this very competitive industry, ignoring the inefficiencies of some individuals.”