3 tips for taking coffee service beyond the cafeteria

coffee hospital

From Keurig Green Mountain.

Healthcare foodservice represents the perfect environment for serving coffee. For the time-crunched staff, family and friends visiting patients, and seniors craving a treat, snack, or pick-me-up, coffee is considered a valuable amenity.

What’s more, purchasing beverages away from home is a popular habit. According to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage report, consumers average 3.6 drink purchases per week from foodservice outlets. And coffee is one of the most popular beverage options— Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Occasion report found 61% of consumers say they indulge in a coffee beverage as a snack at least occasionally.

Healthcare dining has stepped up its game to capture more of the demand for better coffee and keep visitor and employee sales in house. Bringing coffee to the diverse populations in healthcare settings demands a variety of approaches.

Waiting areas

Loved ones waiting for the outcome of a procedure can be understandably stressed out. And because they don’t want to miss an important moment or a chance to hear directly from a doctor or nurse, it can be helpful to make the waiting room environment more comfortable and welcoming. A self-service coffee station with options for tea and water is perfect for this audience.

Waiting areas are also an ideal spot for a single-serve coffee option; it provides guests with a variety of familiar choices and also reduces waste during slower times of day.

Lobbies and common areas

A high-traffic hospital lobby provides an ideal setting for a kiosk to serve patients, visitors, and staff. Kiosks are compact enough to fit into many healthcare lobbies, and automation can help a small staff satisfy even the most demanding customers.

Coffee kiosks offer a good way to bring local flavor into a hospital—in Iowa City, local brewer Java House operates three stands in busy areas of the hospital. In senior living facilities, residents visiting common areas that are open all day can enjoy freshly brewed coffee and tea from self-serve equipment, paid for either on an honor system or as part of their monthly fees.

Coffee bars and cafés

In general, high-volume hospitals can support operations that mirror what’s available in the outside world, sometimes on a 24/7 basis. National coffee chains have set up operations in many larger hospitals; some hospitals feature hometown roasters or have the roasters operate an outlet on the premises. Depending on the location, these cafés can bring in considerable demand from outside the facility as well. The branded coffee shop at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, which serves coffee and house-made food, stays open 24/7 and is reportedly the busiest coffee shop in the state.

Coffee bars work in senior healthcare settings as well. In addition to traditional dining rooms, Wesley Enhanced Living, a network of senior living facilities in Pennsylvania, offers Keurig® single-serve brewing stations across its locations to give residents additional options in between meals. “Keurig has elevated our customers’ coffee satisfaction and simplified operations while increasing profitability,” says Joaquin “Wok” Suarez, Corporate Direction, Dining Service, Wesley Enhanced Living. “This is despite being twice the cost per ounce than our previous coffee offering.”

Finding a way to bring coffee to the masses, when and where they want to enjoy it, is a no-brainer for healthcare operators. To tailor coffee offerings to a specific location, operators can consider aspects like the amount of traffic and the demographic of the site to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

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