Crafting the perfect selection for the convenience-store coffee bar is no small task, but it can certainly be a rewarding one: Most (65%) consumers say coffee is equally or more important than food in influencing purchase decisions during the morning daypart, according to Technomic’s Nov. 2021 Breakfast Consumer Trend Report. Competing for coffee sales means competing for sales across categories—from fuel, to retail, to foodservice. In fact, consumers say the addition of higher-quality coffee and coffee beverages is the No. 1 reason that would likely prompt them to visit a c-store for breakfast more often.
As retailers choose between coffee suppliers and roasts, they must also ensure they’re fulfilling demands for different coffee beverage types and brewing methods. Cold coffees, including iced coffees, iced espresso drinks, cold brew and more, are a must-have, as they continue to claim a large percentage of coffee sales, especially among younger consumers.
Consumer routines shift toward cold-coffee occasions
About one in three consumers say they’re drinking more iced and cold coffee beverages now than they were two years ago, and many say they’re now more interested in nitro-brew coffees, according to Technomic’s Sept. 2020 Bakery & Coffee Cafe Consumer Trend Report.
According to Chairil McClain, Senior Director, Beverage Innovation at BUNN, the pandemic helped catalyze cold-coffee preferences continuing today.
“Remote work spurred the demand for specialty coffee drinks that can’t be replicated at home, and consumers are likely to view coffee/tea beverages as affordable treats,” says McClain. “They will gravitate towards higher-priced beverages like frozen blended coffee drinks, Nitro Coffees and Cold Brew that they can’t replicate themselves. Retailers have the opportunity to create these unique drinks that appeal to the remote workers.”
Aside from frozen blended coffee beverages (one in three consumers say they’d purchase a Frappuccino, if available), consumers’ favorite type of cold coffee is regular iced coffee, with 26% of consumers saying they’d purchase it, according to Technomic’s Aug. 2020 Beverage Consumer Trend Report. Demand for other cold coffee types, including iced espresso drinks, cold brew and nitro cold brew, follow closely behind. Fortunately, cutting-edge technologies can help retailers to offer multiple varieties while keeping labor low and margins high.
“Cold brew coffee dispensers that use bag-in-box (BIB) concentrates, like the BUNN Nitron·, help save on operator costs as using coffee concentrates allows operators to sell multiple gallons of finished drinks rather than paying for shipped water (RTDs) and incurring transportation and storage cooling costs,” says McClain. “These types of machines also help with labor-savings by avoiding cold brewing at the store, which can be cumbersome and inconsistent from store to store, or with staff trying to manage kegs that they are not accustomed to.”
Adds McClain: “Cold Brew beverages are margin-enhancing products for operators, especially when it comes to Nitro Coffee. These types of beverages are considered premium offerings that customers have grown familiar with over the years.”
Equipment makes a difference
With foodservice operators and dedicated cafes weighing in on the cold coffee market, consumers have no shortage of options when choosing where to order their joe. For c-stores to compete, maximizing value offers an advantage; regardless of beverage type, quality is consumers’ chief concern when choosing where to buy their coffee from, according to Technomic’s Bakery & Coffee Cafe report.
Ultimately, c-stores face a tall order: to offer a quality brew with quick service and competitive prices, all while keeping margins high amid labor challenges and supply chain disruptions. Investing in quality equipment can be a great way to ensure quality and efficiency in the long run, regardless of market fluctuations.
“Investing in equipment like bean-to-cup brewers that have both Hot and Cold offerings allows customers to be their own barista with the ability to customize their coffee just the way they like it,” says McClain. “This is a win-win for both sides, customers and operators alike, because not only do customers get the freshest cup of joe that’s consistent and made their way, c-stores also benefit from quality equipment built to last with machine diagnostics and reduced product waste (since it brews by the cup, especially for daypart occasions). This overall helps the bottom line.”
BUNN technologies can help reduce the labor requirement not just in terms of coffee prep and customer service, but in terms of equipment maintenance, too.
“Today, bean-to-cup equipment has advanced so much that there are machines that tell you when it is due for service or maintenance, when product is low or needs refilling, how/when to clean, etc. plus a marketing platform to capture sales through engaging digital interfaces. BUNN Fast CupÒ and Sure ImmersionÒ bean-to-cup brewers have the ability to provide such diagnostics and marketing for the operator/retailer,” says McClain.
This post is sponsored by BUNN