An equipment specialist who made her mark by introducing a coffee machine that is now used in over 30,000 sites across the UK, including McDonald’s and Gregg’s, has been applauded by her company for reaching 20 years’ service with the firm.
Elaine Higginson, managing director of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, who has been dubbed the “most influential woman in the European Coffee market” was responsible for bringing the Black&White bean-to-cup machine to market shortly after joining the business.
The unique piece of kit produced the highest quality speciality coffee at the touch of a button and transformed coffee preparation for operators. It is now the company’s best-selling machine and can be found in thousands of chain restaurants.
Today, Higginson is responsible for the UK division of one of the world’s top five independent coffee companies, 480 employees and behind 20 billion cups of coffee each year. With 9,500 tonnes of coffee roasted in its Dartford roaster, the company forecasts its 2016 turnover to exceed £100m for the first time.
She commented: “The last 20 years has been an exciting time for the industry. We’ve seen the explosion of the high street coffee chain, astonishing innovation and quality coffee being delivered to the masses at an affordable price. The market has grown tenfold since I joined the business, but by creating unique coffee solutions we’ve helped our customers outperform it and grow faster than anyone else.
“I’m so privileged to work with so many passionate and talented people – we wouldn’t be where we are today without such a great team around me. Coffee is a fantastic industry to be part of and I’m excited about it today as I was on day one. How many people can say that after 20 years?”
Jeffrey Young, managing director of Allegra Group, called Higginson “one of the truly great leaders of all time within the UK coffee sector” and a “great ambassador” for the industry.
“Her passion, drive and commitment over the past 20 years has led to the creation of one of the most powerful and influential coffee businesses in Europe,” he said.
In addition to Higginson, 13 employees have also been with UCC for 20 years or more.