Optimize Your Coffee Bar Layout

The right organizing system can transform your coffee area.

December 05, 2023

(This article is brought to you by Food Concepts Inc.)


Convenience retailers growing their morning daypart are focused on providing morning commuters with an experience on par with national coffeehouse chains. Increasing in-store traffic from the pump requires a high-quality coffee program, but also an engaging consumer experience that can be achieved with innovative merchandising solutions that optimize the beverage space and exceed the expectations of today’s coffee customers.

Whether it’s a regular cup of coffee, cold brew or iced or flavored concoctions, customers also want to customize their drinks with dairy, flavored creamers, alternative milks, sweeteners and syrups.

The challenge many c-store operators may have is finding a way to offer all of these choices in a clean, inviting and visually appealing way, especially when space is limited. 

According to Brad Duesler, the CEO of Food Concepts Inc., the organizing systems on the market today can suffer from a poor design aesthetic and a flimsy feel. This makes it challenging for convenience retailers attempting to replicate the coffeehouse experience, which often includes more modern designs and high-quality materials. In addition, custom units have long lead times and are hard to ship, while standard units aren’t flexible.

Condiment displays have evolved from serving a function (Duesler recalls the days when coffee condiments meant “an empty can of Folgers that had some creamers in it”) to delivering an experience. Whether trying to compete with the convenience brand across the street or the coffeehouse chain down the road, the most progressive retailers are winning by investing in the customer experience.

Food Concepts’ PanelRak Modular Organizing System offers a variety of configurations that meet the needs of a convenience store’s coffee bar area. “Having the right functionality, with the ability to adjust inexpensively and easily, is increasingly important,” said Duesler. In addition, custom graphics can be designed to ensure brand consistency and better integrate PanelRak into existing store designs.

PanelRak’s system is modular and easily adaptable to maximize available counter or adjacent wall space without overwhelming the customer. The system is designed to be easy to clean and stock. The system can also be used elsewhere in the foodservice area for condiments and utensils.

Since condiment organizers are often found in high-traffic areas, PanelRak’s system is manufactured using steel with a black powder coat designed to withstand heavy use while providing a premium look and feel. Baskets are easily removed for cleaning to maintain a consistently clean appearance. Baskets can also be moved and labels can be added to keep the experience fresh and appealing.

“Condiment organizers can be an afterthought,” Duesler said. “But this is an area where your customers are literally engaging with your store. They’re standing right in front of the organizer, looking at what it has, making their decisions based on what looks appealing.”

The potential for PanelRak to transform the entire store experience, will be featured in part two of this NACS Daily series on Thursday, December 7. Learn more about PanelRak.