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Case Study: Lee Hi Travel Plaza Tries Higher Quality Coffee

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail


The revolutionary third wave of coffee that hit ground in 2014, also referred to as the craft coffee crave, continues to turn the tide of the coffee industry. According to a July Datassential study, 56% of today’s coffee consumers would visit a third-wave/craft coffee shop and 22% have already visited one.

As the recent trends towards higher quality, origin coffees filter through the market place, would they hold true at a travel plaza? Lee Hi Travel Plaza, a NATSO member located in Lexington, Virginia, embarked to find out. During a June 1–10 test period, Lee Hi’s standard house blend was switched, without fanfare, from Red Sky (2.5oz) to Guatemalan Highlands (2.75oz), both medium-roast, high mountain coffee blends.

During the test period with Guatemalan Highlands, coffee sales were up overall. 


While year-to-year comparison results were unavailable, a comparable one-week comparison period from May, June and July was defined to most accurately balance relevant factors. During the comparison period, fuel sales maintained a consistent pattern as expected and sales of the specialty coffee were up about 10% overall (coffee and fuel sales graphs are available).

The Guatemalan Highlands specialty coffee has since been added to the lineup, and General Manager Corey Berkstresser observed, “The specialty blend is selling well and has been well received.”

Download more detail on the case study here.  

/// S&D Coffee & Tea, in continuous operation since 1927, serves over 90,000 customers through national distribution and direct store delivery. S&D has been distinguished for supplier excellence by many of the largest retailers and consumers of coffee and iced tea, including McDonald’s and the U.S. Military. In 2009, S&D added a state-of-the-art Liquid Extracts Division, which extracts the flavors of coffee, tea and botanicals for use in iced coffee, shakes, ice cream and frozen desserts, energy drinks and other packaged and dispensed products. Operators can learn more about the innovative beverage solutions that S&D Coffee & Tea offers by visiting the company website at or by contacting Jim Edmonson at

The opinions and advice given by guest post contributors are not necessarily those of NATSO Inc. The posts should not be considered legal advice. Qualified professionals should be sought regarding advice and questions specific to your circumstances.

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About the Author

John Buckner

John Buckner

John Buckner joined S&D Coffee & Tea in 2009, after a 20-year career in sales and marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. He has a track record of generating profitable growth by building brands, successfully launching new products and gaining distribution.

His team is responsible for beverage strategies, new product development, customer-centered marketing, market research, merchandising, trade shows, media planning and advertising.

Buckner holds a master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and an executive MBA from Queens University’s McColl School of Business in Charlotte, N.C.