By James Wells

SYDNEY: Sunbeam has issued a press release gloating over the increase in sales generated by a report aired by the Nine Network’s A Current Affair in late April which its competitors described as “biased”.

The report, which featured espresso machines from Krups, Breville, Philips, Saeco, De’Longhi and Sunbeam judged by industry experts, voted the Sunbeam EM6900 espresso machine as the best value machine, the machine that created the best coffee and the best machine overall.

Substantial controversy occurred following the report since one of the four judges in the report was 2003 World Barista Champion, Paul Bassett, who not only currently works for Sunbeam as an espresso consultant but has his name on the winning machine which he helped create in conjunction with the company’s local design department.

Coffee suppliers who watched the report told that the story was biased and misrepresented the coffee category.

Sales of the EM6900 increased substantially following the report in late April after patchy initial sales of the delayed $599 machine, which will be repositioned to $699 this Christmas after some refinements.

According to Sunbeam marketing manager – kitchen appliances, Damian Court, April GfK sales figures indicated a 25 per cent jump in pump espresso machine sales in comparison to the same month a year earlier.

“This boom saw coffee as the largest dollar growth category in the lead up to Mother’s Day with Sunbeam leading the charge as the number one espresso machine brand in value – a performance that continued into the month of May as well,” he said.

Court attributes much of the growth to Sunbeam’s EM6900 Café Series espresso machine and the excellent media coverage it has garnered.

“The positive A Current Affair TV segment that aired in April featuring the EM6900 has kept our customer service lines running hot, with enquiries still coming in. It’s a challenge to keep up with the unprecedented demand this product has generated. It is currently the best selling manual non-automatic espresso machine in value,” Court said.

“It was great to see that when coffee appears in such a mainstream medium, the public is so responsive, giving insight into the buoyancy of the espresso market,” he said.

The domestic espresso machine market continues to show strong growth as it maintains its position as the largest category in small domestic appliances – surpassing both kettles and irons by around 15 per cent.

In the past year, the coffee category has increased in value by $11.5 million with espresso machines accounting for $9 million of this growth, according to GfK data released in April this year.