Specialty Coffee Options Brewing at C-Stores

Tips for offering a unique cup of joe

nitro coffee

Brought to you by BUNN.

Coffee has long been a leading beverage at many c-stores. However, with increased interest in new formats and styles of coffee, some consumers are seeking out specialty coffees. Cold-brew and nitro coffee in particular are rising in popularity—according to Technomic’s 2017 study, Convenience-Store Refreshment: Opportunities and Challenges for Packaged and Dispensed Beverages, 32% of c-store customers not knowledgeable of cold-brew coffee and 41% of consumers not knowledgeable of nitro coffee say they are interested in trying or learning more about the drinks.

While these numbers may not seem too impressive right now, they’re something retailers should pay attention to—because as awareness of these two types of coffee grows, interest will certainly rise even more.

Nitro coffee: The next big thing

According to Technomic, younger consumers are particularly likely to order iced or cold beverages. Additionally, younger consumers are more likely than older consumers to change their beverage preferences seasonally, so a wider variety of cold beverages can help drive traffic during summer months.

While cold brew has been building a following for a few years already, nitro cold brew is relatively new on the scene. Companies such as BUNN have introduced equipment that makes serving nitro coffee operational friendly. BUNN’s Nitron2 Cold Draft, for instance, requires no keg to change out and features a slim design that’s capable of dispensing two beverages—such as cold brew and nitro coffee, for example.

Nitro coffee is unlike other coffee drinks in that it’s served straight from a tap and infused with nitrogen bubbles, with the resulting beverage looking a lot like a pint of Guinness. Nitrogenated coffee is ultra-smooth with a silky mouthfeel, making for a luxurious coffee experience.

A brewing opportunity

In some foodservice locations, nitro coffee is served directly from kegs, but this can prove to be a bit unwieldy within c-stores. Some newer equipment, like the BUNN Nitron2 Cold Draft, uses concentrate in BIBs or caddy packs instead, which c-store staff is already familiar with. Each pack produces between five and 23 gallons of finished drinks. This nitro coffee machine uses an in-line gas infuser that produces the signature cascading-bubble appearance and velvety taste, and because it takes up little space, it’s easy for c-store retailers to incorporate nitro coffee into the coffee-bar offerings.

According to Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Consumer Trend Report, 61% of consumers purchase coffee beverages as a snack at least occasionally, so offering an upgraded coffee option—such as cold brew or nitro cold brew—can be a great way to appeal to those consumers who are looking for a little indulgence.

Consumers can try out the new coffee options as an alternative to their regular coffee, or during an additional stop during a different daypart. And, because cold-brew and nitro coffee are specialty drinks, they can be sold for a higher price than standard coffee offerings—great for retailers’ bottom lines.