Netherlands coffee machine tokens
Using the catalogue
Remember that most pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them. In most cases, the quickest way to find a token is by searching for texts on the token. If you are looking for a logo only or for a one or two letter text, try the list of other enterprises first.
Lists by character of issuers are available. They are invitations for further research. The lists are:
- Producers, distributors and importers
- Government organisations and enterprises
- Other institutions
- Other enterprises
These pages have some further background information. A list of concepts, words and texts frequently occurring on the tokens is on the page some Dutch terminology.
Further research on the producers of coffee tokens would be useful . Some standard types, presumably from the same maker are:
- Copper-nickel, 22.5mm, usually one sided, circular legend with name of company above and name of town between large dots below.
- Copper-nickel, 22.5mm, same design on both sides, main design element is a swirl. A good candidate for being the producer of this type of token is Solomatic. See the RBB token.
- Aluminium, 22 mm, holed, 2 different sides
The Netherlands has a coffee culture. It originated in its colonial past, where the country boasted important markets for products such as coffee, cacao and tobacco, coming mainly from the Netherlands Indies, now Indonesia. After the second world war, coffee was firmly implanted as a cheap luxury, popular with workers who needed a boost or suffered a form of light addiction to such boosts. Employers appreciated the boost. From 1953, when coffee vending machines started to become widely available in the Netherlands, they used vending machines to make sure workers wouldn't leave the shop for coffee. Coffee could be subsidised and so the coffee vending machine token was born. The demise of the coffee token was a trend for employers to provide coffee free of charge. By the late 1990s, almost 95% of the "coffee at work" was free.
Early coffee machines offered the favourite variants of coffee: black, black with sugar and milky (koffie verkeerd). Later machines had more possibilities such as frothy milk, cacao powder and hot water, allowing delivery of fancier hot drinks, like cappuccino, wiener melange (mixture of coffee and cacao), hot chocolate and tea. On company grounds, all were sold at he same price, allowing for a single token.
Introducing the tokens
In general, diameter is an important element. Producers, distributors and importers of coffee vending machines would determine diameter. Coffee machine makers could determine the diameter of the token, but dominant domestic brands soon created some popular sizes, notable 20, 22 and 22.5 mm. The usual price for a coffee was 25 cents, a 19 mm circulating coin. Importers of foreign made coffee machines would at times adjust the mechanism to accept those popular sized tokens and sell their own tokens. Small domestic producers of coffee vending machines often followed suit, but sometimes created their own size tokens, apparently to make sure their machines would not accept tokens of competing machines. Larger companies would replace the name of the distributor or importer with their own name on the token. Tokens issued by enterprises that changed their name or logo or are closely related with another company are listed together. Some government organisations are grouped together also.
The oldest tokens are shiny copper-nickel affairs. In the course of time, they were succeeded by copper-nickel clad and brass tokens. This may be an indication that in general, the machines checked only on diameter, not on weight. There are few iron tokens, so there may have been a check on magnetism. A fair number of tokens were made at the Dutch state mint in Utrecht, an indication that machine checks were fairly rigorous and may have included thickness. Note that the Bevolux token varieties have different thickness.
The listing includes hot drinks machine tokens used in the Netherlands. The same token may have been used in other countries. It excludes fairly similar tokens used in other countries, cold drink machine tokens as well as canteen/cafetaria tokens. The latter exclusion is somewhat hazardous as some coffee machine tokens are inscribed "kantinepenning" or similar. In general, diameter has been taken as an indicator of what the token was used for. Diameters approaching 26 mm are close to the diameter of the circulating 1 gulden piece. That would be way too much for coffee, so it is a good indicator that the token was not used for coffee vending machines.
We have leaned on the excellent research of Mr. A. J. Kooij in his book Catalogus van Nederlandse Betaal- en Reclamepenningen, Vriezenveen 2008, ISBN 9789070067267. The book covers all metallic tokens of the Netherlands. However, we have also done research ourselves, resulting in many small differences and some additions. Several companies and historical societies have lent support. They are listed on the pages with their information.