Is Your Convenience Store Ready for Specialty Coffee Consumers?

The majority of Americans consume their favorite cup of joe each morning. Since convenience stores also factor into the daily routines of millions of Americans, providing a desirable coffee spread is an obvious income generator that will contribute to your store’s success. The majority of customers are looking for a superb coffee experience with lots of conveniences. The customer market is evolving quickly, and coffee shop operators who don’t adjust to their changing needs risk losing both sales and customers.

Hot coffee is a staple in many convenience stores, but in order to attract a broader customer base, convenience stores must expand the types of coffee products they offer. Need some convincing? The Cold Brew coffee market alone is valued around $500 Million in 2022, and is expected to increase to almost $945 million by 2025.

With such an incredible growth trajectory, making your convenience store ready for specialty coffee consumers is the best way to be able to cater to the evolving trends of the coffee market. But how can your c-store draw specialty coffee consumers in the current market? Read on to learn more about what customers anticipate from your convenience store and how you can serve them best.

Adopt digital machines to facilitate beverage customization

Most coffee shops employ trained baristas; however, convenience stores can benefit from automating coffee production. It will make it possible for your store to offer a plethora of drink options, and let customers customize their drinks. Additionally, most customers prefer their specialty coffee to be brewed on a push button or digital machine.

Integrate automatic coffee machines to preserve all the coffee and beverages you plan to provide your customers. These machines will take care of the effort involved in serving all of your customers a consistent and high-quality cup of coffee during their visit. Using a digital machine is cost effective, yet still meets your customer’s desires for autonomy and customization. 

Follow coffee industry leaders for trends in quality coffee

Specialty retailers like Starbucks have raised the standard for commercial coffee by the sheer number of customizable drinks they offer, many of which vary throughout the seasons and cater to multiple dietary preferences. This has resulted in a massive global customer base. Many consumers have come to expect this caliber of coffee whether they are in a coffee shop or a convenience store.

Partnering with a well-known coffee company (or multiple!) is one option for ensuring brand recognition, and increasing repeat customers. It’s crucial to be prepared to share the “coffee story”, which focuses on the area of the world where the coffee was grown and whether or not it was grown organically. This also includes unique flavor notes that customers can expect when they drink the coffee. 

Establish a sustainable convenience store coffee program

As you ready your c-store for coffee consumers, keep in mind that sustainability is the most significant trend in the food industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, sustainability aims at improving catering inventiveness to create eco-friendly packaging. As a result, you should consider reducing your use of plastic and implementing efforts that focus on environmentally friendly sourcing.

Sustainability extends beyond packaging and includes using energy-efficient equipment to provide customers with cheaper coffee. Your c-store coffee program’s sustainability depends on whether you offer free water refills and don’t charge more for alternative milk. Since the majority of specialty coffee is grown and harvested internationally, there is a strong desire for coffee beans to be produced via fair-trade markets, ensuring the farmers involved were compensated well for their labor. 

In general, sustainability is a crucial aspect to take into account for any convenience store. The reason is that customers today are more involved, active, and aware. They are thinking about the problem often, hence acting as one of the greatest determiners of their purchasing decisions.

Improve efficiency in your c-store coffee program

Preparing your convenience store is more than just being ready to ensure that the brew is hot and fresh. You need to decide on a smart structure and position for the coffee area to guarantee continuous delivery.

It might be cumbersome to have your employees move larger brewers and urns across the store when they need refilling. Instead, build your c-store and supporting sinks close to the nearby wall to make it easier to restock the air pots at busy times. If this is not possible, invest in high quality shelving and display options that show off your broad selection, and make organization easy to manage for employees.  

Be ready to offer a variety of coffee drinks

You will know you are prepared to attract specialty coffee consumers when you have multiple coffee drinks in your inventory. Consider including everything from black coffee and espresso-based beverages, such as cappuccino and macchiato. Seasonally, it will be lucrative to include iced beverages, such as iced coffee, cold-brew and nitro coffee. Offering all hot beverages in iced versions is an excellent approach.

Your convenience store will become the perfect hangout for specialty coffee consumers with various espresso-based beverages and coffee blends. Also, improve your convenience coffee program with bean-to-cup items to be able to have a high number of repeat customers and high cup counts.

It should be noted that the increased demand for specialty coffee extends to include other caffeinated beverages that have garnered a large demand. For example, tea based drinks like matcha, chai, yerba mate and golden milk (a turmeric-based tea) have also increased in popularity. Also, consider stocking options for folks with differing diets and preferences such as wanting a coffee drink with a dairy-free creamer, decaffeinated drinks, or a low sugar option. 

Take into account staff involvement

Staff training plays a crucial function in your c-store readiness for coffee consumers. Ensure your staff has a basic understanding of the coffee products being sold so they can answer questions and make recommendations. This is one of the factors that will ensure that your clients know they can expect the same positive experience each visit.

Training your employees will also help build a coffee culture within your store to ensure consistency. Convey to your staff the significance of the coffee category, the rationale behind each stage, and what they can do to support the program.

Providing incentives to your employees will encourage adherence to the process and the quality of service in your convenience store.

The bottom line

Coffee is a great opportunity to increase traffic and customer visits to your convenience store. However, it depends on your ability to satisfy the increasing needs of specialty coffee consumers. Combine the ideas listed above so that you will have a coffee inventory ready to please all types of customers. At Stoflex, we understand retailers’ challenges, and we are committed to assisting our customers in navigating the current retail business environment. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your c-store grow and develop in the coffee market.