Canadian Vending

Features Coffee Service
Gourmet Coffee Popping Up In Unexpected Places

June 17, 2008
By Canadian Vending


WAUKEGAN (AP) – For Leo Hogan, there’s only one place to go for a
steaming cup of freshly roasted and brewed gourmet coffee: his local
used CD shop.

WAUKEGAN (AP) – For Leo Hogan, there’s only one place to go for a steaming cup of freshly roasted and brewed gourmet coffee: his local used CD shop.

“I love coffee. The better the coffee, the better I like it,” Hogan said as he waited for his order from Fire Fresh Coffee Co., tucked in the corner of a store filled with CDs, DVDs and video games. Hogan stops by the Music Recyclery about once a week for coffee made from beans roasted fresh right in the store.

More and more businesses looking for some added value for their customers are turning to java, and not just your standard cup, either. Latte lovers can get their fix in laundromats, movie theatres, arenas and fitness centres. And businesses that have long served coffee – such as gas stations – are finding they no longer can get away with the coffee status quo as consumers accustomed to Starbucks demand the same quality anywhere they buy coffee.


“If your taste has been educated to really want an espresso or a mocha, a regular cup of joe from a pot that has been sitting there all day just isn’t good enough anymore,” said Beau Weston, a sociology professor who teaches a class on cafe life at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Weston credits Starbucks for getting consumers used to a higher-quality coffee brew. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, gourmet coffee is now more than a $10 billion US industry, up from $7.5 billion in 1999.

No wonder fancy coffee is showing up in unexpected places.

Take the Wild Bean Cafe, a new addition to BP gas stations across the country. There, customers can get pastries baked on site and gourmet coffee from urns refilled with fresh brews throughout the day.

“When was the last time you were in a gas station and were able to enjoy a Kenya AA?” said BP spokesman Scott Dean. “We’re finding that customers really do want a good quality cup of coffee.”

Rick Abramson, president of Sportservice Inc., a leading provider of concessions at sports stadiums and arenas, remembers the way coffee was served at ballparks in his youth: a cup of hot water and a packet of instant granules. No more.

Now about 90 per cent of the sporting facilities Sportservice serves have some sort of high-end coffee offering, from Starbucks or local gourmet brews at concession stands to espresso drinks in the stadium clubs. Younger fans like his children, ages 16 and 20, demand fancy hot drinks in the fall and frozen ones in the summer.

“My kids are used to that, so when they went to the ballpark, they would think I wasn’t doing my job if there wasn’t a place where they could get a mocha or a frappe,” Abramson said.

A good cup of coffee can bring customers into a business – and keep them around at least for as long as it takes to drink it, said Richard Wyckoff, who oversees refreshment services for Aramark Corp.

A booming part of Aramark’s business is at car dealerships, which are requesting self-service machines that can grind and brew a fresh cup of coffee for potential car buyers in less than a minute.

The idea is to keep customers happy – and browsing.

“If you look at trends in the coffee business and the growth of gourmet coffee, the consumer is much more aware and appreciates much more the value of a good cup of coffee,” Wyckoff said.

The National Coffee Association’s 2004 National Coffee Drinking Trends report found that of consumers who said they had purchased coffee in the past week, 11 per cent said they bought it at a convenience store, 18 per cent at work and seven per cent at a mass merchandiser. The purchase information is a new addition to the annual report.

Paul Frischer, who owns the Music Recyclery chain, says he likes the franchise coffee as much as the next person, but there’s also room for independent brews. Frischer’s roots are in the coffee business; he started with a Chicago cafe but soon found the CDs he was selling offered a better return.

That was almost 15 years ago, before coffee roasting technology got less expensive and Starbucks raised the expectations of coffee drinkers, Frischer said. Now his Fire Fresh blend attracts customers who might not otherwise come into the store and gives those who do another reason to stick around and buy.