If you have ever bought a coffee from a high street chain you may have not have noticed the cloth used to clean the milk steam wand.
Jonathan Quinn did and his hygienic solution has won the Merseyside Innovation Awards 2017 January monthly prize.
He has developed an ultrasonic cleaner which dispenses with the need to wipe the steam wand with a cloth, cleaning the pipe inside and out in seconds without a human hand or dirty cloth touching the machine.
“I developed this idea pretty quickly after my wife Linzie asked me to buy her a coffee in a well-known chain,“ he said. “I don’t drink coffee myself and when I ordered I noticed that the server wiped the milk steam wand with a filthy rag before making my wife’s drink.
“I questioned what had just happened and asked for a clean cloth to be used but my mind immediately began thinking about a better way to maintain hygiene in a busy coffee shop.“
That was in October 2016 and within weeks he had set up a company – Hygienic Innovations in Bromborough – and had not only built a prototype ultrasonic cleaning bath but had also applied for a patent.
“We have been refining the design down and we are close to having a market-ready product,“ he said. “The principal is similar to the process that cleans jewellery, by placing it in a water bath and passing ultrasonic waves through it.
“But we have made the ultrasonic unit smaller and made the bath a portable mug-size. It takes exactly the same time as wiping the nozzle, a couple of seconds, but crucially it cleans inside and outside, removing all milk residue and other bacteria and dirt.“
Jonathan believes the product could revolutionise hygiene standards in the coffee shop, restaurant, pub and take-away beverage industry.
“This is the only portable, quick use product to clean inside and outside the nozzle,“ he said. “And it will have a major impact on hygiene and employee/customer safety. Food and drink retailers should use the best available technology processes for cleanliness and hygiene.“
MIA founder Brian McCann, corporate finance partner with sponsor Mitchell Charlesworth, presented Jonathan with his award and said it was a simple concept that could have a real impact.
“The coffee shop market in the UK is massive and continues to grow at an astonishing rate,“ he said. “What makes this so ingenious is its simplicity and ease of use. As soon as this came before the MIA panel we all had the same reaction – brilliant idea!
“Jonathan has come up with a great product in a short space of time. There are many excellent coffee shops around Liverpool who take hygiene very seriously and it will be interesting to see the market reaction to the product. Congratulations to Jonathan on being selected as our January winner.“
Each year the awards select monthly winners between January and May before choosing the three best to go through to the final, where they go head-to-head in front of a panel of expert judges to compete for a first prize of £10,000 to spend on their business.
The runners-up get £2,000 of professional support from the MIA sponsor group, where they can select one sponsor or a number of sponsors to provide consultancy support.
2017 will also be the second year that the MIA presents its Prestige Award. This is open to businesses with a turnover of £1m to £25m who are continuing to innovate on Merseyside, creating jobs and investment on a larger scale.