Beverages are a big deal for convenience store retailers. According to Technomic’s recent Beverage report, a full 43% of consumers have purchased a drink at a c-store in the past month. And consumers overall order an average of 3.6 beverages away from home each week. Customers—particularly younger consumers—are looking for more choices when it comes to beverages. Those younger consumers desire uniqueness and variety on drink menus and order a wider selection of beverages, according to Technomic’s Beverage report.
How can retailers satisfy that thirst for variety? Quality, choice and easy-to-operate equipment equal c-store beverage sales and profitability. Tap into trends—see what’s in vogue on social media channels, what’s new on restaurant menus and which RTDs are flying out of reach-in coolers. Pique interest and trial with LTOs and seasonal offerings. Don’t just sell, promote! Use POS materials, informational handouts and list daily specials on chalkboards.
1) Step up your coffee game
Coffee is a c-store staple: 65% of consumers have ordered regular hot coffee in the past month, according to Technomic’s Beverage report. However, they are also looking for more than the regular joe: 62% have ordered a hot specialty coffee drink.
Start with the beans. Appeal to java geeks by offering different levels of roast—from dark Italian or French to light City roasts. Many consumers are also concerned about the ethics of coffee. If you source and serve fair trade, sustainable and shade-grown beans, be sure to shout that out. Beans infused with flavors like French vanilla, amaretto and hazelnut have wide appeal.
Easy to use, quality equipment is key to providing customers with a quality cup. A gourmet brewing system like the GemX IntelliFresh system from Curtis takes the guesswork out of brewing and digitally controlled pulses of gentle heat keeps coffee at the ideal serving temperature regardless of volume. The GemX Twin model lets operators double customers’ options by brewing two distinctly different roasts in the same equipment footprint.
2) Emphasize the health benefits of tea
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water. According to Technomic’s Beverage report, 70% of consumers ordered iced tea in the last month. Not only does a freshly brewed cup taste great, but it’s also chock-full of antioxidants and is reputed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as improve immunity. For an added boost, some teas are blended with superfruits like acai and pomegranate as well as anti-inflammatories such as turmeric.
Don’t stop with black tea. Consider offering green, oolong, white or matcha teas, perfect for sipping day or night. Operators might want to consider offering a “tea bar” by offering a variety of teas and incorporating an electric hot water dispenser with aerator into a beverage bar that provides hot water on demand at the perfect, precise temperature.
And, to double your iced tea offerings conveniently and easily, consider using a tea brewer with a rotating brew head. The Curtis Tea Brewer with rotating brew basket has dual dilution spouts, eliminating the need to move heavy, full dispensers.
3) Cool it with cold, iced and frozen options
Cash in on iced coffee’s popularity. Fifty-nine percent of consumers reported ordering cold/iced or blended coffee, according to Technomic’s Beverage report. Strut out the flavors with iced and blended offerings. According to MenuMonitor, the most popular coffee flavors are mocha, vanilla, caramel and hazelnut.
Frozen coffee drinks are perennial favorites at c-stores. Trade up from a single machine to a twin- or triple-bowl model to up your selection in a modest footprint. Look for machines that are easy to clean and sanitize and allow for overnight storage on standby mode. Curtis’ G4 coffee brewers are capable of brewing hot or iced coffee, and G4 tea brewers do even more, brewing both hot and iced coffee as well as iced tea. This equipment has the capability of brewing multiple offerings while taking up a very small footprint – an excellent benefit to any operator.
4) Treat cappuccinos as a snack treat
With their foamy white tops and myriad flavor options, cappuccinos are as much of an afternoon indulgence or a nightcap as they are an eye-opener.
Display a Curtis Primo Cappuccino machine in a primo location for impulse buys. Customers can operate the machine at the touch of a button. To max out on flavor variety, machines offer as many as six stations in a single unit. Curtis cappuccino machines are capable of dispensing a variety of offerings from multiple heads: hazelnut, caramel, vanilla, mocha, hot chocolate and more. The sight, sound and aroma of freshly made cappuccinos will garner me-too sales.