How colleges can compete with coffee QSRs

college students drinking coffee
Photograph: Shutterstock

From Keurig.

According to Technomic’s 2018 Bakery and Coffee Cafe report, 57% of consumers visit a bakery café or coffee café at least once a month, and 31% visit at least once a week. Students reach for caffeine throughout the day as they recover from an all-nighter, prep for an afternoon of classes or need a pick-me-up before evening jobs. And it’s not just the students pining for a coffee fix — faculty and staff depend on it, too. 

But with the amount of chain and independent coffee shops popping up, and the increasingly café-like menus of quick service restaurants, what’s keeping college coffee drinkers on campus? According to Technomic’s 2018 Bakery and Coffee Cafe report, campus coffee programs have a big advantage over their commercial competitors in town: they are often the most conveniently located.

The Technomic report found that when choosing which coffee café they visit, 68% of consumers said they are more likely to choose an establishment that has a convenient location. Meanwhile, 57% cited speed of service as the top priority and 48% reported making the choice based on quality of service.

What’s in the cup matters as well. More than a third of students, according to Technomic’s 2017 College & University report, say it’s important for schools to offer well-known brands of coffee, and 31% prefer the ability to customize a food or beverage.

To stay competitive with commercial coffee shop competitors, on-campus coffee programs continue to turn to single-serve brewers, such as Keurig®, that offer upscale and well-known coffee brands. Coffee served at on-site foodservice locations means students and staff don’t have to waste time leaving campus, and with single-serve cups, they can get quality coffee quickly while having a choice of roasts and flavored varieties. For some, it’s just not fall without pumpkin spice in their mugs.

To further entice coffee drinkers, campus coffee programs are also expanding the menu beyond the standard drip coffee, as the College & University report found that consumers said they would likely purchase drinks such as blended specialty coffee, hot specialty coffee, and iced specialty coffee. Many universities offer expansive coffee add-in bars with various types of milks and milk substitutes, natural sugar and sugar substitutes, as well as condiments such as cinnamon, nutmeg, whipped cream, flavored syrups, caramel, and chocolate sauce.

Convenience, quality, and customization can attract diners to stay on campus and benefit foodservice programs, especially with high-margin products such as coffee.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

When looking for a way to get more use out of its Canyon Cafe, open during the weekends only, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., tried something new: free cooking classes.

Classes are open to students, as well as faculty and staff, and are taught by Campus Dining Executive Chef Michael Albright, according to Mustang News .

The weekday classes, which are capped at 14 participants, have taught attendees how to make items such as probiotic overnight oats and “the perfect turkey.” Interested parties can sign up online via the school’s dining...

Managing Your Business
chef online sourcing

More than 40% of restaurants buy supplies from online sources such as Amazon at least once per month, reducing their reliance on distributors, according to new research from Technomic.

The bulk of the online shopping—what Technomic calls third-party e-sourcing, or 3ES—is for nonperishable foods and other supplies that can’t spoil, such as disposables. "Today, operators are most inclined to purchase products in the nonfoods and shelf space but are reluctant to source frozen and perishables from 3ES,” said Joe Pawlak, managing principal of Technomic. “However, they can envision a...

Industry News & Opinion

Anchorage School District in Anchorage, Alaska, is offering free meals to students this week while schools are closed due to the recent earthquake, KTVA reports.

The meals are being served at nine schools throughout the district between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and are available to anyone 18 and under. The district has provided school buses at each location to allow students to eat inside.

Read the full story via .

Industry News & Opinion

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its final rule on school meal standards .

The final rule builds upon the USDA's changes to school meal standards announced last year . It will keep the sodium Target 1 limits in place through school year 2023-2024, and Target 2 limits will go into effect for the 2024-2025 school year. The final sodium target (Target 3) will be eliminated.

While operators have been able to meet sodium Target 1 limits, many felt that the second two would be difficult to acheive. Over 90% of respondents in a School Nutrition...

FSD Resources