In today’s new reality, c-store retailers confront a wide range of challenges, many of which occur at the coffee bar. Because of social distancing, many customers may be reluctant to grab a cup of coffee if they see a long line. The critical factors a consumer considers nowadays when choosing where to stop for coffee are speed of service, variety, customizable coffee experiences and a safe environment. Take a look.
Coffee in an instant
“When it comes to speed of service, a lot of operators are going in the direction of the BUNN Fast Cup®, our newest bean-to-cup brewer,” says Melissa Nichols, director of product management for BUNN. Fast Cup brews a freshly ground cup in as little as 30-35 seconds depending on the recipe. The brewers and three large 3-pound bean hoppers provide enough for seventy cups of coffee per hopper, which means less maintenance for the operators. “Fast Cup not only brews fast, it is fast for the staff to take care of,” points out Nichols. “There is no need for staff to grind, brew and wash out servers; just make sure hoppers are full and perform a once-a-day, 10-minute cleaning cycle and the machine is ready to get back to work.”
Batch brewers are another option for fast coffee service, especially for large-volume situations. “Volume through a server is the fastest way to dispense a typical 20-ounce cup,” says Bob Pierce, BUNN’s senior vice president of North America. To meet morning rush demands, many c-store retailers employ multiple servers—Soft Heat® or ThermoFresh®—and a couple of brewers. “These are staged so that fresh coffee is up front and behind the scenes, coffee is brewing into another server,” says Pierce, noting that BUNN’s Infusion Series Twin Brewers can serve and brew at the same time.
“A combination of coffee machines—batch brewers and bean-to-cup—is the best solution for many c-store operators,” advises Nichols. That mix depends on how much coffee they sell and how heavy peak volumes are.
“Stores will use batch brewers for the morning rush hours,” points out Pierce, “then in the late morning or afternoon they shut down the batch brewers and rely on bean-to-cup machines.” He adds that the BUNN Infusion Series brewers mirror the brew profile of the bean-to-cup brewers and vice versa. “A customer grabbing a batch-brewed cup in the morning on the way to the office can pick up a bean-to-cup on the way home and get the same flavor profile.”
Offering a variety of coffee choices can help draw customers, especially younger consumers, according to Technomic’s 2020 Beverage Consumer Trend Report. Although 52% prefer regular hot coffee, bean savvy consumers are interested in trying different roasts and blends. Specialty coffees—cappuccinos, lattes and mochas—are highly popular too. In addition, iced coffee (26%) and cold brew (19%) have their fans, according to the report.
BUNN can help with satisfying that demand. “Most of our bean-to-cup machines can brew three different coffees in the same footprint,” notes Pierce. With batch brewers, multiple servers allow retailers to offer as many different roasts and brews as they wish.
Plus, both the Infusion Series and bean-to-cup brewers can produce cold coffee as well as hot. “Instead of the operator having to buy another piece of equipment,” notes Pierce.
“With cold coffee from Fast Cup, it doesn’t dilute the coffee but rather it’s brewed and cooled down inside the machine, so when poured over ice, it doesn’t melt quickly,” explains Nichols. And brewing cold coffee takes the same amount of time as a regular hot Fast Cup.
When the trend first started, many retailers were cold-brewing on premise, which proved to be labor- and space-intensive; sanitation was also a concern.
BUNN’s Cold Draft machines solve those problems by using a cold-brew concentrate. “With today’s technology, concentrates offer great mouthfeel and taste, with savings on labor and virtually no waste,” says Pierce.
NITRON Cold Draft machines can dispense both still and nitrogenated cold brew coffees. “Nitrogenated cold brew coffee produces cascading bubbles and is creamy and sweeter on the tongue,” says Nichols.
Clean Contact Solutions
Since the advent of COVID-19, BUNN has initiated a variety of clean-contact options. The program includes VirtualTOUCH, antimicrobial films, Tap-kins and no-touch faucet adaptors.
VirtualTOUCH works with smart, mobile devices. “Customers scan a QR code that redirects to a webpage replicating the bean-to-cup brewer’s touchscreen,” explains Nichols. “Customers can then order the coffee right from their cell phone without touching the machine.”
Another hands-off option is a faucet adaptor. Rather than activating a faucet handle directly, customers can engage the faucet lever simply by pushing their cup forward against the faucet adaptor to draw coffee from a server.
C-store retailers can also place antimicrobial films on high-touch areas. The film can be cut and shaped to cover any touch point and can be replaced as needed.
Tap-Kins are single-use, disposable sleeves that that can be slipped over tap handles for clean-contact dispensing. “Tap-kins are very simple and easy to use,” says Nichols.
For more information on BUNN coffee solutions, visit commercial.bunn.com.
This post is sponsored by BUNN