poration, a dispensed beverage equipment provider.
“In the c-store category, many operators like our
Soft Heat equipment. It allows you to keep the
coffee at the correct temperature for the period you
choose. You also have a brewer with several servers.
Many larger convenience store chains have the
brewers behind the scenes, and they’ll have from
three to 12 different servers with different coffees
sitting out for guests to enjoy.” Stores may start the
morning with a dozen servers on the coffee bar and
reduce that number as the day goes on.
Later this year the Bunn Sure Immersion
bean-to-cup brewer will hit the market, allowing
consumers to see the coffee beans before they are
ground and slide into the brewer. “The process
only takes a minute to a minute and a half, and the
guest knows this will be the freshest cup of coffee
they can have,” he said.
But even the latest equipment won’t be a winner
without reinforcing beverage bar basics. “We always
recommend that the entire drink station be a
beverage destination, from coffee to cappuccino,
iced coffee to iced tea and don’t forget the con-
diments and cups,” said Jodi Conachen, general
manager of communications for Community Coffee
Company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “We’ve seen
a 20% lift in pastries and breakfast items when
bundling with coffee. Also, we recommend for the
afternoon that retailers offer tea and lunch combos
to ensure the beverage station extends through mul-
To win additional sales, Pak-A-Sak keeps fresh
donuts near the hot beverage bar during the morning
rush and recently ran a program featuring Pillsbury
Minis, individual packages of four, bite-size pastries.
Mixes and Fixes
A good program starts with quality coffee, but at the
end of the day, coffee is all about customization. Visit
a Rattlers convenience store in the Brazos Valley of
Texas and you’ll see as many as 32 bottles of flavored
syrups, plus additional upscale coffee condiments,
at the hot beverage bar. According to Jim Kolkhorst,
CEO of Rattlers, “We want to create a destination.
This is a place where you can get a reasonably priced
cup of coffee with a lot of additions.”
By offering so many flavor options, Rattlers allows
customers to excel at coffee customization. “We see
this in all channels, but people really want to custom-
ize their coffee,” said Conachen.
“Mocha and cinnamon are perennial favorites,
but for April, we’re switching to crème brûlée as an
option,” she said. “People want to add things like
chocolate curls and coconut to create a drink that’s
personal to them. They’re teetering on this interest-
2013 VS 2014
of Sales Avg. Store Sales GP Margin GP Margin
2013 2014 2013 2014 2013 2014 2013 2014
Coffee 76.8% 77.3% $40,423 $42,266 $22,281 $23,635 55.12% 55.92%
Cappuccino/Specialty Coffee 10.5% 8.5% $5,526 $4,648 $3,500 $2,783 63.34% 59.87%
Refills 8.0% 9.5% $4,211 $5,194 $2,250 $2,940 53.44% 56.61%
Hot Chocolate 2.9% 2.8% $1,526 $1,531 $897 $925 58.78% 60.43%
Hot Tea 1.0% 0.9% $526 $492 $287 $274 54.51% 55.64%
Coffee Club Mugs 0.5% 0.6% $263 $328 $102 $129 38.87% 39.32%
Other Hot Dispensed Beverages 0.3% 0.4% $158 $219 $72 $102 45.32% 46.72%
Total 100.0% 100.0% $52,633 $54,678 $29,389 $30,788 55.84% 56.31%
For years, most convenience stores wanted to offer a national
coffee program with a familiar brand name. “Companies taking
their coffee program to the next level realize that they have to
brand it their own,” said Yondo of Paramount Coffee. “Their coffee
becomes a destination and customers want to come back.
“You can go to a coffee house and get a great cup of coffee, but
it’s not as convenient as buying it at a convenience store,” he said.
“People who go to coffee houses have vehicles and need gasoline.
If they have time to hang out at a coffee house, that’s great, but
if they’re on the way to work and can go to a c-store and get a
great cup of coffee that rivals that of a coffee house—and without
standing in a long line—they’ll go to a convenience store.”
(Source: NACS State of the Industry Report of 2014 Data)