Bean-to-cup coffee dispensers are the latest trend in the coffee area. But convenience store retailers must weigh the benefits with the cost of new equipment.
Bean-to-cup coffee machines can signal ‘fresh’ to customers because the machines grind the coffee fresh with the touch of a button. Most retailers point to the perception of freshness as the biggest reason they opted to add a bean-to-cup coffee program to their convenience stores.
Offering quality, fresh coffee is key for retailers working to create a successful coffee program. If customers arrive and find cold coffee or coffee that’s been sitting out for hours, they’re less likely to consider that convenience store as a destination for coffee in the future. With bean-to-cup, even if a customer arrives in the middle of the afternoon, long after the morning coffee rush, they’ll be able to brew up a fresh cup of coffee on demand. This can give retailers, especially those with multiple stores, a sense of security that customers are getting the same, high-quality coffee experience in every store, every time.
Many retailers have also pointed to the waste and labor efficiencies these machines provide as a major benefit.
Because the beans are ground fresh with every cup there’s no waste, which saves dollars and time.
The machines also require less labor, allowing employees to spend more time serving customers because they don’t need to dump out and refresh pots of coffee throughout the day. Employees also don’t need to brew the coffee ahead of the morning rush, and they don’t have to clean the coffee pots each night the way they would with traditional glass coffee containers. All that said, the machines do still need to be cleaned and filled with beans, and the coffee area still needs to be sanitized.
One retailer told CSD that he found that the whole beans for the bean-to-cup machines cost less than the ground beans, allowing for more margin.
On the flip side, some retailers have steered away from bean-to-cup because they found the space needed for the program was problematic for smaller stores that may not have room for an additional piece of equipment. Others found the cost of the equipment to be a deterrent. Still others are watching the trend to see how it evolves.
When first adding bean-to-cup machines, it can help to have an employee at the ready to help customers navigate the new machines for the first time to ensure a seamless transition.