Here’s how operators can capitalize on the trend.

A few years ago, coffee was considered a breakfast or cold-weather only staple not likely to generate many afternoon or evening sales. However, as coffee consumption continues to rise and is one of the most popular beverages in America, it has now broken past daypart or weather barriers.

“Recently, there has been an increased focus on quality when it comes to iced coffee and cold brew,” says Adam Pobiner, director of strategic sales at SEB Professional. “This attention has resulted in significant category growth in the afternoon and evening dayparts.”

Meanwhile, the rise of flavorings, alternative milk and coffee combinations, and shaken and blended coffee beverages with ice in the quick-service space have all made coffee more accessible to a larger audience. This trend has become even more pronounced since 2020. The 2022 National Coffee Association’s National Coffee Drinking Trends report shows that while morning coffee consumption by people who had coffee in the past day fell to 31 percent in September 2020 from a pre-pandemic rate of 41 percent, morning coffee consumption is now back up to 38 percent, and afternoon coffee consumption is more prevalent now than in the past.

Pobiner attributes this shifting to work-from-home and hybrid work schedules and notes that this transitional period is the perfect time for operators to reassess their beverage programs. They can start doing so, he says, by asking how their morning daypart business has changed, if their operations would be better served by bean to cup programs to increase quality and eliminate waste, and if their cold coffee programs offer enough variety to meet consumer demand.

“In addition to focusing on coffee quality, successful quick serves have focused on offering more variety to better cater to changing consumer tastes, such as by offering a wider range of roast styles—focusing on varietal—or coffees that promote a specific cause at origin or in the local communities,” Pobiner says.

He suggests brands add on additional dispensers to their existing lineups to expand menu offerings, particularly at peak service times. Meanwhile, integrating bean to cup brewers can elevate coffee programs to ensure product quality and freshness while reducing waste. Finally, he says, ensuring coffee offered on bean to cup brewers is available in iced will help keep coffee programs relevant during all dayparts, as well as attract new customers.

“Once you’ve ensured you have the fundamentals taken care of and elevated your menu don’t forget about marketing your coffee program,” says Amy Brown, marketing manager at SEB Professional. “Market your brand and what your new coffee program offers. And don’t hesitate to seek help. At SEB Professional, we are one company with three brands—WMF, Schaerer, and Curtis. We’ve seen firsthand how implementing a full-scale coffee program can boost coffee sales not just in the morning, but throughout the day. With the right equipment in place from SEB Professional, operators can offer top-quality and variety that consumers want.”

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