Streamlining Hot Dispensed

Sometimes you really can have two much of a good thing. Until recently, the 15 Pump-N-Pantry stores located in six northeastern Pennsylvania counties offered between 10-12 varieties of hot coffee.

Along with its proprietary dark Endless Mountain Beanery Coffee, an even darker Midnight Blend and decaf, a variety of different flavored brews rounded out the mix. The problem was a lot of that coffee was being thrown away, said Wade Robinson, Pump-N-Pantry’s food service supervisor/digital marketing manager.

To remedy that situation, the company has begun to streamline its coffee selection over the past few months. Flavors are being rotated out as limited time offers (LTOs) of the week. All indications are that this abbreviated line-up will be rolled out to the rest of the stores.

- Advertisement -

According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), 24% of coffee drinkers chose espresso-based beverages in 2017, a “leap” of 6% from 2016. That represents the largest recorded one-year jump for the category in the history of NCA’s annual National Coffee Drinking Trends tracking report.

One new offering that is set for testing to target the many truck drivers who frequent the stores is Extreme Caffeine, made from an extract that delivers twice the caffeine of regular coffee.

Customers can also boost their regular coffee’s caffeine by adding a shot of Stok, which is available on the coffee bars.

Although the flavored brews are being trimmed, Pump-N-Pantry still offers many alternatives to coffee drinkers who enjoy different flavors.

Last summer through Christmas, the Montrose store tested the Bunn Infusion brewing and holding system. With this system, the stands the servers sit on are connected to a tablet that tells how long before the window of maximum freshness expires and blinks red when the system requires attention. The system is set to be rolled out to all the stores by summer.

After testing a barista-served cappuccino drink service in one of the stores, Pump-N-Pantry switched over to the self-service Bunn IMIX machine that uses powdered mixes to dispense five different hot drinks including regular and mint hot chocolate and French vanilla, hazelnut and seasonal flavor cappuccinos.

Over the past couple of years, hot tea sales have also picked up in the stores. Instead of ordering a box about every month, they are now ordering one every week or every other week. Aside from regular orange pekoe, the stores offer six Bigelow tea flavors.

Among the trends that are driving the growing popularity of hot dispensed tea are the beverage’s healthfulness, variety, availability and sustainability, said Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the U.S.A.

Goggi also predicted that the increase “will hold steady if not grow throughout 2018.”