Top Trends Driving Coffee Sales in 2022

For convenience stores, recovering morning coffee sales will likely involve some strategizing beyond opening the doors to commuting consumers. Working from home over the course of the pandemic prompted many to change their morning routines—namely, making coffee at home instead of buying a cup elsewhere.

The coming months offer retailers the opportunity to engage consumers resuming in-person work and encourage repeat customers. By taking inventory of consumers’ top priorities for their morning cup, c-stores can better position themselves to become a daily go-to stop for coffee-loving shoppers and sustain sales in the long run.

Rivaling at-home coffee

Consumers cite quality, customizability and uniqueness as top purchase drivers for coffee, according to Technomic’s recent Bakery & Coffee Cafe Consumer Trend Report. It’s especially important for retailers to focus on these priorities as they seek to win back consumers who have acclimated to at-home brews, as home preparation offers a level of control over quality and customization that’s hard to beat. Offering consumers’ favorite flavors, formats and service styles can help appeal to a large consumer base with varied tastes.

Given that quality is consumers’ No. 1 most important menu attribute, offering a freshly ground roast offers a major advantage. In fact, most consumers say that a bean-to-cup coffee offering at the c-store would increase their likelihood of purchasing, according to Technomic’s 2021 Convenience-Store Hot Beverage report.

“My suggestions for retailers to win back consumers would be as follows: Continue the pursuit for quality and consistency in your coffee program,” says Jeff Ulrich, Sales Vice President at BUNN. “Most retailers have spent years or decades perfecting their taste profile and have a loyal following. A move to bean to cup brewers like the BUNN Fast Cup will improve the quality and consistency of your program to compete against cafes and QSRs, but offer the customer an improved experience and the operator can eliminate waste. Customers will certainly appreciate both of those elements!”

Exploring formats and flavors

Consumers’ favorite formats and flavors are must-haves for customization, whether drinks are prepared by an employee behind the counter or by a consumer using a self-serve coffee bar. According to Ignite menu data, mocha, vanilla, caramel and hazelnut are currently the most popular flavors to pair with coffee.

Cold coffees are outpacing hot coffees in terms of menu penetration; the top three fastest growing coffee drinks are iced specialty coffee, iced lattes and cold brew.

“Frozen coffee is an extremely popular beverage that is fairly easy for the c-store operator to execute, “says Ulrich. “Social media is helping propel the interest in cold brew and nitro cold brew drinks among the younger drinkers, who are driving most of the growth in this category. The health benefits of nitro cold brew over adding flavors and calories to cold brew or iced coffee are also being recognized.”

Adds Ulrich, “Consider adding cold dispensed beverages to your menu. Whether it’s frozen coffee via the BUNN Ultra or cold brew and nitro cold brew via the BUNN Nitron, your customers will appreciate the variety of cold beverages you offer that they are not able to duplicate at home. Most retailers estimate over 50% of their sales will be dispensed cold beverages over the next few years. Margins for cold coffee beverages are very attractive.”

Competing with convenience

In addition to offering a variety of flavors and formats, convenient service is a must-have as consumers consider making a stop while en route. Fast-brewing coffee makers not only help speed up individual transaction times for busy consumers, but also help prevent congestion in the store during the morning rush.

What’s more, offering self-serve amenities that are quick and easy for shoppers to use can be a gamechanger in terms of general efficiency in the store. Especially as labor challenges persist, quick, dependable coffee makers can help employees spend less time on machine maintenance and more time creating great customer service across the store.

The award-winning BUNN Fast Cup bean-to-cup coffee brewer combines the quality, customizability and ease of use needed to create a coffee bar that’s as exciting to consumers as it is convenient.  Fast Cup is geared to meet the demands of any daypart with three bean selections, a variety of cup sizes and options for hot or cold coffee all brewed in about 30 seconds. The intuitive touchscreen experience and optional touchless beverage dispensing experience via VirtualTOUCH™ are ideal for customers and operators alike. Operators will benefit from an internal design that practically eliminates coffee waste and ensures all beans are brewed into the cup. Consumers will love the excellent cup clarity and drip-style flavor achieved from the Fast Cup’s exclusive brewing method. 

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