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    Why Sheetz Is Year’s Best Hot Beverages Innovator

    Chain promises coffeehouse coffee without the coffeehouse.

    By Don Longo, Convenience Store News

    ALTOONA, Pa. — Sheetz Inc., which operates more than 500 convenience stores throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina, is no newcomer to the Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovators Awards, having won Best Prepared Foods Innovator in 2012 and taking the runner-up prize in that same category in 2013.

    This year, Foodservice Innovators Awards judges selected the chain as the Best Hot Beverages Innovator for 2015. Sheetz promises its customers: “Coffee so good, the Sheetz Bros. put their name on it. Coffeehouse coffee without the coffeehouse! From our unique brewed coffee blends to the specialty drinks available through the touchscreen. We know coffee!”

    Presented in partnership with Tyson Convenience, the fourth-annual Foodservice Innovators Awards recognize convenience retail chains who are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in this fast-growing and critically important product category for c-stores. Winners are chosen by CSNews’ How To Crew panel of foodservice experts from the retailer, supplier, research and consulting fields.

    This summer, Sheetz brought its coffee program up another notch with the launch of an upgraded “Kick in the Beanz” program at its stores chainwide. According to Ryan Sheetz, director of brand strategy, “this new premium coffee elevates the sensory experience for our customers.”

    The new program includes four blends, 17 creamer and flavor options, and a full line of latte and mocha beverages — resulting in more than 1,000 different ways Sheetz customers can customize their coffee.

    The four signature blends progress from light to dark roast — Breakfast, Classic, Sumatra and French Roast. The beans, which are freshly ground in every store, are sourced from Central and South America for the Breakfast, Classic and French Roast blends, while the Sumatra bean is sourced from Indonesia. All four blends are served in a new, environmentally-friendly cup.

    "The updated cups are fully recyclable, BPA-free and made out of No. 5 polypropylene — one of the safest materials used to package foods," Ryan Sheetz said. "This implementation will divert approximately 2.3 million cups from landfills every year."

    Every Sheetz location has new state-of-the-art grinding and brewing equipment and trained baristas as well.

    “Clearly, Sheetz leads as the hot beverages innovator today in the U.S. convenience retail channel,” remarked How To Crew member Maurice Minno of MPM Group

    For more on Sheetz and the other 2015 Foodservice Innovator Awards winners, check out our specially created Foodservice Innovators Awards microsite at http://foodserviceinnovators.csnews.com.

    By Don Longo, Convenience Store News
    • About Don Longo Don Longo is editorial director of Stagnito Business Information's Convenience Store News, Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner and Hispanic Retail 360 media brands. He has covered retailing for more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and publisher. Previously, he spearheaded the editorial efforts at a variety of business publications focused on mass, drug, grocery and specialty store retailing. Convenience Store News won American Business Media’s Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Issue of the Year in 2008 and 2012. Longo has won numerous other editorial awards over his career and is frequently quoted in the national and local news media on the subjects of retailing and consumer trends.

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