Cafe-Bars replaced a lot of tea ladies in the 1960s and 1970s ('tea gentlemen' were quite rare). In 1963 the company patented a butterfly valve that delivered the exact amount of instant coffee, powdered tea, milk, soup, chocolate or sugar, keeping ingredient costs low and reducing mess.
The first blue-painted metal models were designed for the factory floor. But by the 1970s, Cafe-Bar wanted to expand its market into offices and waiting rooms. The plastic Compact model was the first to be designed by a professional industrial designer, David Wood of Sydney. It was released in 1974, featured futuristic styling and came in avocado green, beige, blue and burnt orange, colours that suited the groovy fashion of the times.
Increased sales of the Compact took the company into new markets from the Netherlands to New Zealand. But by 1989 the patent on the butterfly valve had lapsed and the Compact was looking old. The Quintet, this time designed by Adam Laws, was styled for the office of the 1990s. It blends in with the colours and textures of today's computers and fax machines, and its familiar car-style dials make it easy to use.
Cafe-Bar also created a new demand for tea, coffee and biscuits, the supply of which eventually generated more profits than the machines themselves.