CHICAGO — Convenience-store retailers are always striving for a better cup of coffee to improve the lure of their businesses.
The variety and options of coffee equipment on the market today are a far cry from yesteryear. Touch screens, bean-to-cup and the array of other features being offered today allow a c-store to better resemble a high-end coffee shop than ever before.
Click through for a sampling of how retailers are innovating today ...
The Royal Farms’ convenience-store chain is bringing a new Swiss-made coffee brewing system to its 240 locations in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey. The system, the Schaerer Coffee Art Plus, promises customers a fresh cup of hot or iced coffee at any time of day.
Unlike drip coffee or coffee dispensed from an airpot, this new brewing process lets customers enjoy a hot, fresh cup of coffee made from perfectly roasted Arabica coffee beans that are ground seconds before brewing.
Customers may choose from a wide variety of coffees such as 100% Colombian, Royal Farms Gourmet blend, Brazilian Dark Roast, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Hazelnut, French Vanilla and more, each brewed on-the-spot one cup at a time.
“Each cup is consistent, so there’s never a reason for our customers to be concerned about the quality of the coffee they are purchasing,” said John Kemp, president of Royal Farms. “We wanted to give our customers the best coffee experience and our new coffee brewing system does that for them.”
Royal Farms’ new coffee machines also brew iced coffee that is actually a different way to brew coffee altogether. The process starts with more coffee per brew cycle and the coffee is cooled down before it is dispensed into the cup to help reduce ice melt. The result is a smooth and refreshing iced coffee that is the ultimate in freshness.
Both the hot coffee and the iced coffee are pressure-brewed, a method by which fresh whole beans are ground instantly, lightly packed in a chamber, sealed and brewed under the ideal amount of pressure to make the freshest cup of coffee possible, according to the company.
Another bean-to-cup operation is at c-store and fuel retailer Good Oil Co., which recently launched its new Fast Cup coffee machine.
This brewer, which features a touchscreen and a drip-style flavor profile, accommodates larger cup sizes and delivers coffee in about 30 seconds. The brewer is manufactured by dispensed-beverage equipment producer, Bunn-O-Matic Corp., Springfield, Ill.
The Fast Cup will ensure that every customer enjoys a hot, fresh cup of coffee regardless of the daypart or flavor, Good Oil said.
"We feel that the new Bunn Fast Cup machines is not only a great fit for our business, but will also provide an even greater value to our customers and their overall coffee buying experience," said Don Good, president and CEO of Good Oil.
For those strapped for space, the Wilbur Curtis GemX Narrow IntelliFresh with FreshTrac promises to maximize counter space and double an operator’s foodservice coffee volume.
The GemX Narrow is 10.5 inches wide and features two side-by-side 1.5-gallon dispensers, allowing operators to brew 3 gallons of their best seller or to feature another specialty coffee in the same compact space. The rotating brew basket enables brewing into either satellite without changing their position.
“The new GemX Narrow is the most compact yet robust commercial coffee brewing system on the market,” said Emmanuel Couppey, vice president of marketing at SEB Professional North America, parent company of Curtis. “It features two streamlined satellite dispensers in the same footprint, doubling batch brewing volume and expanding beverage versatility all while saving operators valuable counterspace.”
“In terms of counter space saved and capacity gained, the new GemX Narrow outpaces all other brewers in its category,” Couppey said. “This streamlined unit allows operators to merchandise twice the amount of coffee in the exact same footprint as our standard G4 GemX System.”
The Curtis GemX Narrow features the same elements found in the original GemX system. IntelliFresh technology delivers digitally controlled pulses of heat to keep coffee at its ideal temperature regardless of volume. Four encapsulated sensor points inside each satellite monitor coffee level, freshness and carry the same intelligence on their stands when moved to a remote merchandising location.
Curtis FreshTrac streamlines labor by replacing audible alarms and mechanical timers with an intuitive and customizable system of three LEDs that glow and flash, letting operators track coffee freshness and volume from across the room.
Capable of delivering more than 250 drinks per day, the new Vitro M5 coffee machine from U.K.-based Coffetek offers a selection of espressos and fresh milk drinks, from cappuccinos to latte macchiatos with a thick layer of foam.
It’s easy to reprogram and one can adapt any recipe to suit customer tastes. Select the order in which each ingredient is poured into the cup, specify whether the milk is liquid or foam and hot or cold, and the amount of foam.
Made with high-quality materials including stainless steel and glass, it’s easy to maintain and clean.
For stand-alone operation, the Vitro M5 even allows a cashless system or a separate pod that gives change. It also allows for payments with a mobile phone.