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Choose your brews

Paul Maxwell, marketing manager UK at Aryzta Food Solutions, says his company's partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee provides forecourt retailers with a range of self-serve solutions that delivers both "great-tasting hot drinks and a great customer experience".

A variety of self-serve coffee solutions, from counter-top machines to fixtures from 1m to 1.8 metres in size are available. The Seattle's Best Coffee team will do a site survey first, to decide which option is best for a retailer's store. The leased machines require a water inlet and waste outlet. Maxwell says the innovative machines feature the latest technology with integrated touch-screen devices and are fully-automated to produce consistently high-quality beverages.

The coffees themselves are made from Fairtrade 100% Arabica beans, and customers can choose from favourites including Lattes, Americanos, Mochas, Cappuccinos and brewed filter coffees, as well as hot chocolate.

Three cup sizes are offered as standard with a fourth, espresso size, available in some instances.

Says Maxwell: "Aryzta provides comprehensive guidance and training manuals as well as offering on-going support to all customers, in order to give them the tools and knowledge required to drive footfall and increase sales. We also offer a full suite of marketing material suitable for petrol forecourts, including 'big coffee cups', light boxes, A-frames, screen graphics and loyalty cards."

He says the Seattle's Best Coffee units provide highly visible branding creating a destination in-store. "Retailers have the option to build Aryzta's bakery brand Cuisine de France and American sweet treat brand Otis into the units to offer day-part deals and encourage link sales. Shoppers can pick up a pastry in the morning or a doughnut or cookie in the afternoon while they wait for their coffee to pour.

"We work closely with all of our customers to identify the right solution for them and their customers. Once they are on-board, we provide training for staff and offer continuous, relevant product support."

satisfied customer

One satisfied Seattle's Best Coffee customer is Top 50 Indie the Park Garage Group. The company was seeking a combined coffee, bakery and hot food offer that would enhance the look and feel of its stores and, at the same time, appeal to both its traditional customer base and a younger target group. It introduced Seattle's Best Coffee self-serve units and a food-to-go offer across its estate of 49 stores. Since then, sales of hot beverages have increased by around 25%. Food sales have also shown a significant increase.

Hemant Tandon, operations director at Park Garage Group, says: "Coffee is a big footfall driver in forecourts and convenience stores so it's important to make your coffee offering as good as possible.

"The introduction of Seattle's Best Coffee has had an instant impact. New customers are being brought in by the taste of the coffee and existing customers are buying more cups each day and also buying into link deals from the other Aryzta solutions we've installed."

Choice move

Woodman Service Station in Leeds, West Yorkshire has had a Tchibo machine since it re-opened in 2015. Manager Ziheed Mohammed explains: "It's very popular; our customers like the coffee and they like the price. We sell two sizes: at £2.10 and £2.40 a cup. We chose Tchibo to give our customers a choice as not everyone wants a Costa coffee. We don't have a coffee-specific loyalty scheme but members of Shell Go+ get 10% off all hot drinks so that is a good deal."

Ziheed says housekeeping is number one when it comes to hot drinks-to-go: "Customers can be messy but that's fine as long as you keep on top of it and we make sure our staff regularly monitor the section."

While coffee is obviously very popular, there will always be customers who want tea or hot chocolate. The latter is where eXpresso Plus comes in with its new partnership with luxury chocolate brand, Thorntons.

Recent research by IGD Shopper Vista discovered that 39% of shoppers rate brand name as the top attribute that defines whether a product is high quality or not. eXpresso Plus says its range of deluxe Thorntons hot chocolate machines answer this consumer demand.

"Hot chocolate is becoming ever more popular among consumers," says Charlotte Duhaney, marketing manager at eXpresso Plus.

She adds that as consumers view forecourts as being about more than just fuel service, there's a high expectancy for their shops to stock products that meet their current demands. And those current demands include hot chocolate-to-go.

"As consumers' expectations for premium quality from recognisable brands rises, partnering your coffee solutions with world-renowned brands, such as Thorntons, is imperative for increased success. Including a high-quality drinks offering can attract customers, upsell with a unique product and increase your bottom line."

The Thorntons machines were showcased at the recent National Convenience Show, where they were well received. They come in a variety of sizes, and include the Thorntons Nano and Piccolo towers which offer 10" media screens for showing ads, messages and videos; remote sales reporting and a service mode with quick-button flush cycle. There is also the Futuro counter-top machine which offers similar features.

"The new Thorntons hot chocolate machines empower forecourts to attract more customers and generate more income. In forecourts, 28% of those that buy food-to-go also buy a hot drink (Him data), so offering a hot chocolate drink option from a renowned brand is a great way to increase basket spend," says Duhaney. "Now is an exciting time for eXpresso Plus and our exclusive product range, especially with hot chocolate taking up to a 20% share of drinks sold. And with many consumers happy to pay an extra 50p for quality, luxury brands like Thorntons are leading the way in hot-chocolate-to-go sales."

Thorntons luxurious hot chocolate is described as "silky smooth and beautifully aromatic". It is made from fine cocoa nibs, extracted from roasted cocoa beans and then ground to release their rich, full, flavour.

Expresso Plus also offers tea solutions with PG Tips and Yorkshire tea machines.

Research by Tetley found that 13.1 million people consume tea out-of-home each day in the UK, which means considering a standalone tea option could make good business sense.

The PG Tips to-go tower is slimline so it fits in small spaces and features a compact condiments area. It is very well branded so customers will instantly recognise the PG Tips logo as well as the popular 'monkey' character. Similarly the Yorkshire Tea tower is well branded too with the brand logo as well as imagery of the Yorkshire countryside.


My Coffee Station's robust offer

My Coffee Station director Laurentt Davies says their solution's robust all-metal construction can withstand heavy usage while still looking great in the brand's classic green colour.
It is now offering three sizes to suit all locations: from the small station at only 500mm wide, to the medium at 800mm wide and the large station at 980mm wide. As an example, the latest medium-size solution offers two lid and two cup dispensers, making it ideal for busier sites.
"We offer a loyalty card scheme where the customer buys six drinks and gets the seventh free," explains Davies. "The retailer returns the completed cards to us and we credit the free drink." He says that it has been extremely popular as retailers say it encourages customers to return to the store, and the cost of the free drink, loyalty cards and stamps are all covered by My Coffee Station.
Keeping your hot-drinks-to-go area clean is vital. Davies says: "We have always worked with our retailers to keep the coffee stations, clean and well maintained, one of our unique selling points is that we have a team of staff who visit our Coffee Stations at least once a month and conduct a full strip and clean of the machine, including the all-important coffee brewer clean. This has two positive impacts: one it reduces the time needed by the retailer to commit to maintaining the Coffee Station; and two, it means that we can carry out monthly checks on the machine which reduces breakdowns. A clean and well-maintained Coffee Station will sell more drinks as customers will feel confident buying from it."


Everyone loves Costa

Costa Coffee has been voted the 'Nation's Favourite Coffee Shop' for the ninth year running. Research firm Allegra quizzed 3,121 consumers, and 51.4% said Costa Coffee was their preferred café. At the same time, Costa was named the UK's most ethical coffee shop by consumers.
Its ethical measures thus far include powering its roastery with 100% renewable energy, diverting over 7,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and removing 45 million plastic straws from its 2,600-plus stores.
Last year it also launched a recycling initiative that pays waste management companies to recover and recycle its takeaway cups.
Allegra CEO, Jeffrey Young, says: "Costa is a brand that is very much part of the fabric of British lifestyles and one which has cemented its role as the nation's second living room."
While some forecourt sites have Costa cafés inside, hundreds more have Costa Express machines which dispense the same 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee that is served in the Costa Coffee shops up and down the country.


As the smaller/family owned independent forecourt businesses continue to be acquired by the big operators, do you think now could be the right time for you to sell up?