How convenience stores are offering barista-made coffee

Barista Technology Australia

Fuel and convenience stores are changing the game when it comes to coffee quality, with Urbanista proving it is possible to receive a barista-made coffee at speed.

When a customer traditionally walks into a service station to pay for fuel, they’re greeted by a counter of chocolate bars, chips, and gum. But not at Urbanista Café & Convenience. Here, the first thing the customer sees at the dedicated café and convenience store, is the coffee machine and barista.

“I was very conscious not to make the service station look like every other service station, and it’s the best thing
I could have done,” says Eddy Nader, Managing Director of Nader Petroleum Group.

Eddy’s father started working in the service station industry in 1970. Eddy joined the family tradition in 1992, and in 2015, he decided to shake things up. Seeing the growth potential for a quality coffee offering, he rebranded his BP outlets to Urbanista Café & Convenience stores. Due to the success of the model, one store has expanded to six, with coffee the primary focal point, and oil taking a secondary position.

His first outlet to apply the Urbanista brand was at BP Smeaton Grange (now branded Ampol), in Sydney, which
won Australian Service Station and Convenience Store of the Year in 2016. The next year, Urbanista’s second site at BP Condell Park (now branded Shell) in Sydney’s southwest won the same award. This year, its Shell Colyton site jointly took the accolade and is a finalist at the Asia Pacific NACS Retailer of the Year Awards.

During COVID, with many coffee shop outlets closed or operating under restrictions, Eddy’s Urbanista outlets became coffee destinations.

“Our growth during COVID went through the roof. Between the six locations, we do about 8.5-tonne of coffee per year. We’re not a typical pushbutton express coffee. We have a custom-made blend, trained staff, and that quality attracts customers from all directions. We’ve maintained that reach even as things opened back up,” Eddy says.

Traditionally, Eddy’s team would spend hours teaching new staff members to make coffee. But now, the first thing they are shown, is how to use the Perfect Moose milk texturing device before undertaking barista training.

“The Perfect Moose is an absolute game changer for a business like ours,” Eddy says.

With the high volume of staff turnover Eddy is experiencing, he says the automated foaming device in each of his locations reduces the pressure on staff workload. If a new staff member “ups and leaves” after a month, Eddy says the replacement can maintain the brand’s quality output almost instantly because the Perfect Moose is such an easy and consistent device to use.

“Even in busy periods, we’ve been able to cut down on staff because we’ve got the Perfect Moose. In one of our stores, we used to have two people working behind the coffee machine in the afternoon because of the ‘home-time rush’. It did more coffee between 4.30pm and 7.30pm than it did in the morning. Now, we just have a single person on and have eliminated the need for a second because of the Perfect Moose,” Eddy says.

The Perfect Moose helps alleviate Urbanista’s staff pressures and enhances output efficiency and consistency.

By cutting down on a second staff member at an award rate of $30.20 per hour, working four hours Monday to Friday, Eddy says it’s a cost saving of around $120 a day, 52 weeks of the year, equating to $6240.

Beyond cost savings, the Perfect Moose is helping achieve Eddy’s main criteria for speed and consistency.

“With the Perfect Moose, you can make 100 coffees in a row and the milk will come out exactly the same 100 times over. Previously, there would have been so many inconsistencies, such as burning the milk,” he says. “A lot of tradies will come in the morning and want their coffee extra hot because it needs to last while they’re driving or going to a job site. With the Perfect Moose, you can easily adjust the temperature range of the milk to the preference of the customer.”

One of Eddy’s Urbanista stores does close to 600 cups of coffee a day, and the majority are milk-based orders ranging from full cream to skim and almond milk. The Smeaton Grange site does about 400 cups per day. And at its busiest site, Condell Park, of which 60 per cent of orders are double shots, Eddy says the orders are “one full cream milk to two lactose-free orders, and three almond milk”.

“With Perfect Moose, there are three different colour jugs. Black for cappuccino milk. White for flat whites, and green for all alternative milks, so there’s a jug for every milk preference,” he says. “One customer orders a half soy half skinny. You just shrug your shoulders and get the job done.”

The other noticeable benefit of the Perfect Moose, Eddy adds, is how much it reduces milk wastage because it weights the volume of liquid pending the order size.

“Baristas use to just pour the volume they thought was sufficient to the volume, but that’s not accurate. With the Perfect Moose, it will actually measure the liquid to the very drop and tell you to ‘take some out’ if it’s too much,” he says.

Barista Technology Australia CEO Brett Bolwell says Eddy’s success through the convenience sector is just the start of an “express revolution”.

“Barista-made coffee is so prevalent in Australia. I think we’re really fortunate in this country to have a really high calibre of coffee consumers who expect good coffee no matter where they are, which includes being on the road and getting it at the same place as your fuel,” Brett says. “Only now is there realisation that the petrol and convenience markets provide an incredible opportunity for growth over the next three to five years due to the size of the market.”

Barista Technology Australia is currently supplying many drive-thru outlets with equipment that helps support workflow, speed, and consistency. To date, Brett estimates about 11,000 Puqpress have been sold in Australia over the past two years. He says the automated tampers have become “a benchmark” and “non-negotiable” for any new business. Brett says a further 750 outlets now have the Perfect Moose, and that figure is set to jump considerably. Flow telemetry software is the newest product in the Barista Technology Australia distribution range, with 100 already on the market, and 500 about to be installed in a prominent chain outlet.

Kerry Forde, Head of BP Retail for The Number 8 Group, New Zealand, says installing Flow has become an integral element in coffee quality management, and will be extending it to their other existing BP sites.

Mike McGill of BP New Zealand, says prior to installing Flow, the petrol chain believed it was making great coffee, but upon seeing the data via Flow, it quickly realised it was not.

“It was a real eye-opening experience. We went to work using the Flow data to improve the coffee our customers were receiving. In what felt like no time at all, met recipe percentage was increasing and so was the positive feedback from the customers,” Mike says. “We were constantly being told by the customers how they loved the new bean, only there wasn’t a new bean, we were just making the coffee how we were supposed to from the start.”

As a result, Mike has seen BP NZ coffee sales increase and in other areas of the shop as customers peruse while getting their coffee.

“To date, using the Flow system has been a great experience and we will be sticking with it,” Mike says.

Brett adds that the same experience can be said for many other customers, with sale improvements increasing on average 15 to 20 per cent when shot consistency is met.

For businesses looking for the full suite of automation packages, Brett says the Puqpress, grind-by-weight grinders, Perfect Moose and Flow telemetry are the four key products any coffee operator should have on their workbench.

“We’re committed to making coffee more accessible and much more consistent,” Brett says. “What we’re seeing now, is more people coming to us saying, ‘we want to put together drive-thru offerings, but we want to make it faster than what everyone else is doing’. The goal will soon be one-minute service. It’s all about speed – and very good quality coffee.”

For more information, visit baristatechnology.com.au

This article appears in the August 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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