Brewing Up Perfect Partnerships

Want to make coffee a destination driver? Start by collaborating with your suppliers.

June 10, 2024

This article is brought to you by SEB Professional.

Good coffee is about more than the bean you grind or the machine you brew it in. Those things are important, of course, but for c-stores to compete with local shops, corporate chains or even just customers’ kitchens, they need to offer a best-in-class coffee experience.

Coffee should be a destination driver, and as such should be elevated in importance when developing a foodservice plan, said Jennie Jones, senior vice president of convenience and retail at equipment manufacturer SEB Professional.

As the coffee category evolves from selling a product to selling an experience, suppliers are—in addition to manufacturing state-of-the-art equipment—emerging as category partners in the space, offering expertise, education and insights for retailers looking to elevate their c-store coffee.

“It’s competitive out there, and coffee has gotten more advanced. If you want people to spend more time and money in your store, you need to cater to higher expectations. So if you just put an expensive piece of equipment on the counter, it’s not going to do anything for you,” said Brad Duesler, founder and CEO of Food Concepts Inc. “A good equipment manufacturer can provide an array of solutions and really understand what a retailer is trying to accomplish, then diagnose the right equipment solution for that.”

More Than a Manufacturer

SEB doesn’t think of itself as just an equipment manufacturer or a supplier. It’s in the business of category management, and that means coming into a store with “the complete arsenal” of solutions, insights and data.

“For the 22 years I was a retailer, suppliers just sold equipment. But SEB isn’t here to just sell you machines. Retailers have such complex operations, and even if they excel at coffee, they can still benefit from fresh ideas and new perspectives,” said Jones. “Successful retailers have done their homework and understand their customer, but they’re also looking to their equipment manufacturers for expertise, so helping our operators is a huge part of what we’re about as a company.”

It’s not always the right thing to sell a retailer your newest piece of equipment, she explained. “We’ve had many customers that wanted to add equipment to make a statement. Instead, we were able to evaluate their customer demographics and help them choose the right piece of equipment based on our technology and their data. Our goal is to improve coffee quality and availability and reduce labor,” she said.

Continue reading this article in the June issue of NACS Magazine.