A four-slice Dualit toaster
|Headquarters||Crawley, West Sussex, England|
|Total assets||£8,617,059 30 June 2012|
Dualit is a British manufacturer of coffee and tea capsules, kitchen and catering equipment and is best known for its range of heavy-duty toasters. The Dualit Classic Toaster is regarded as a design classic. Although it was primarily designed for the commercial catering market, it became trendy in the 1990s as a domestic product and was described by Bill Deedes in The Observer newspaper as a "symbol of the kitchen porn 90s".
Dualit was founded in 1945 by the German-born inventor Max Gort-Barten CBE (1914–2003) and was incorporated as Dualit Ltd in 1948. Max's first commercial product was an electric heater which he named Dual-Lite (from which the company took its name) as it could deflect heat to two parts of a room.
In 1952 Max designed a commercial six-slot toaster with a manual eject lever in his factory in Camberwell, south east London. In 1954 the Government compulsory-purchased the factory and gave Max money to build a new factory in Bermondsey, just off the Old Kent Road. Other products followed and demand exploded. Eventually, their London base proved too small for them and in 2003 the company moved to its present site in Crawley, West Sussex. They currently occupy 60,000sq foot with further expansion planned.
Max's son Leslie joined the company in 1972 and is now managing director. Leslie is a trained engineer and worked making metal press tools before joining Dualit. Leslie's son Alex is now a company director, having trained in product design. Before coming to Dualit, he worked as a product designer in both London and Hong Kong.
The Classic Toaster
The Dualit Classic Toaster is recognised as a design icon. It differs from other toasters on the market in two key ways: Firstly, it has Dualit’s patented ProHeat elements that have an armour-plated design to protect them from damage. Secondly, the hand-built process used in their manufacture, with each part held together with visible screws, makes the toaster robust, yet easy to disassemble and repair, with replacement elements and other parts readily available so it typically has a longer service life than contemporary electronically controlled toasters. It has a mechanical timer and manual lever to lift the toast from the slots, as opposed to an auto "pop-up" mechanism. Designed in 1952 it is notable for its "large loaf" shape, characterised with cooling slots at both ends of the unit designed to allow it to function for periods of extended use in commercial environments such as a café or canteen. The toasters are currently available in different sizes, with various slot numbers and are manufactured in a range of colours and finishes. Since its creation, it has offered upwards of 50 hues. Among the most recent colours to launch was a copper toaster in 2014, launched alongside a new range of Classic Kettles that also offered a copper option. The Classic Toaster is still hand built at Dualit's factory in Crawley, West Sussex.
Mica and the ProHeat element
Since Max Gort-Barten's first commercial toaster in 1952, Dualit's toaster elements have been made using a heating wire wound repeatedly around a Mica supporting substrate. Mica is a naturally occurring silicate compound. It is completely inert and also can be naturally separated into flat sheets a lot like slate. As a result, it is readily suited to the manufacture of heating elements. Mica varies in grade – the clearer the Mica, the less impurities it contains. Dualit engineer their elements out of the highest grade Mica which is critical for the performance of the toaster; if there are no impurities then there are no hotspots where the heat conducting wire comes into contact with the supporting silicate substrate. Hotspots diminish longevity and cause uneven toasting. Despite this, the Dualit elements could still be damaged by consumers sticking knives and other implements into the toaster slots and damaging them. Dualit worked on a solution to this and in 1999 patented the ProHeat element, which won the company a Millennium Award. It is similar to previous Dualit elements but has two differences; the first is that it has more "winds per square centimetre" – the heating wire was wound around the mica substrate a greater number of times resulting in much improved toasting ability. The second and most crucial difference is the entire element is coated in a very thin, protective layer of mica, which allows the heat to escape but blocks injurious ingress from the knife. ProHeat elements are currently fitted to every Dualit Classic Toaster, with replacement elements available to be purchased if required.
Expanding the range
In the 1960s, Dualit began to develop different products to add to its portfolio. Still manufacturing for the commercial market, this began with the introduction of a waffle iron and continued to include sandwich toasters, soup kettles and cocktail shakers. The 1970s saw Dualit Toasters start to become more popular in domestic kitchens, but it wasn't until the 1980s that demand in this area soared. Dualit diversified its product range to include kitchen appliances such as blenders, juicers and non-kitchen products like pedestal fans and hand dryers. Dualit still produce a comprehensive range of catering products, together with several toaster and kettle collections, a food preparation range and coffee and tea machines. Their latest development has been producing their own range of beverage capsules for coffee machines.
Coffee and tea capsules
Launched in 2012, Dualit's first range of coffee capsules was branded NX Coffee Caps. The patented capsules were designed to be compatible with Nestle's Nespresso coffee capsule machine range as well as Dualit's own coffee machines. The capsules could be purchased from various high street stores as well as ordered off the Dualit website. This was in contrast to the Nespresso system; Nespresso capsules could only be purchased through the website or its own "boutiques". Nestle sued Dualit in 2013 in an attempt to block production of the compatible capsules claiming patent infringement, but the court awarded in favour of Dualit. Dualit currently sells two coffee capsule ranges: NX coffee capsules and compostable coffee capsules. The compostable coffee capsules are two single origin coffees, sourced from a single geographic location and grown by groups of small farms. All parts of the packaging can be industrially composted, and need to be discarded in local collection scheme food waste bins for this to happen. In 2014, Dualit launched a range of multi-patented tea capsules. The capsules were 18 months in development, as Dualit had to ensure that the capsule did not produce the same froth as a coffee pod (the "crema"), when used in a coffee machine.
- Intense Espresso (Strength: 10 – Dark)
- Classic Espresso (Strength: 9 – Dark)
- Lungo Americano (Strength: 7 – Medium)
- Decaf Espresso (Strength: 3 – Light)
- Single Origin Indian Monsoon (Strength: 9 – Dark)
- Single Origin Sumatra Mandheling (Strength: 8 – Dark)
- English Breakfast
- Earl Grey
- Green Tea
- Blackcurrant Infusion
- Peppermint Infusion
- Excellence in Housewares 'Honorary Achievement' Award, 2015, Leslie Gort-Barten, managing director
- Excellence in Housewares 'Plugged In' Award, 2015, Classic Toaster and Kettle in Copper
- Great Taste Award, 2015, Fine Tea Peppermint Infusion and Green Tea Capsules
- Good Housekeeping, Approved Award 2015, Classic Toaster
- Excellence in Housewares 'Plugged In' Award, 2013, Architect Kettle and Toaster
- Good Housekeeping 'Design Superstar' Award, 2008, Classic Toaster
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- The Telegraph September 5th, 2014
- Crawley Borough Council
- Phaidon Design Classics: Volume 1, No.319, published by Phaidon Press, May 2006
- Dualit unveils new Classic Kettle with changeable element Trusted Reviews, 3 July 2014
- The Big Book
- Rivals eye Nestle's captive market, Financial Times, 11 March 2012
-  Nespresso opens up new technical specs to its rivals, The Grocer, 8 February 2014
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