Amid growing coffee pod sales, Donut Shop Drive Thru offers operators a value-side solution

Dec. 2, 2021

Currently serving more than 400 office coffee service operators around the country, Alliant Coffee Solutions has released a new addition to its popular Authentic Donut Shop brand Donut Shop Drive Thru soft pods.

Two-fold inspiration

“Alliant’s inspiration for this line was two-fold. First, we are always working to be the best one-stop shop we can be for our OCS customers and the absence of a bulk-packed soft pod line in our catalog was a gap that we needed to fill. Second, we saw an opportunity to improve upon the quality currently represented in the value side of the soft pod market,” said Marina Cappagli, marketing director at Alliant Coffee Solutions.

100% arabica with value

“Donut Shop Drive Thru is an extension of our very popular Authentic Donut Shop brand and is intended to be a solution for high volume, single-cup OCS accounts that are looking for a no-frills, classic cup of coffee delivered in a soft-pod format. The typical Drive Thru OCS consumer is probably more price sensitive and values the benefits of buying in bulk over the benefits of offering a wide variety of flavors and blends in their breakroom. To meet these needs, we pack each Drive Thru SKU in bulk 180-count cases and we offer branded, refillable countertop displays to round out the presentation,” added Cappagli, who noted that the 100% arabica pods were developed with Reunion Coffee Roasters.

Among the new Donut Shop Drive Thru Pods, the Breakfast Blend variety is the most popular, followed by Americano Dark and French Vanilla.

Soaring pod growth

According to Cappagli, from 2017 to 2019, Alliant saw an increase in soft pod sales of about 90% and sales have remained relatively strong through 2020 and 2021. As one of the earliest adopters of this single-cup format (they have been producing Wolfgang Puck soft pods for almost 20 years) Alliant will continue to be one of its most enthusiastic supporters.

“We believe that soft pods are increasingly popular because they provide maximum value to consumers. Soft pods allow for on-demand variety, they are typically less expensive than k-cup style pods, and they are compostable – totally compostable when packaged in compostable packaging film,” Cappagli said.

Coffee pod history lesson

Having extensive experience with coffee pods, Cappagli offered a historical perspective. “One of the characteristics of soft pods that make them so great is their simplicity – they’re just ground premium coffee wrapped in filter paper. Twenty years ago, soft pods seemed poised to seriously compete as a dominant single-cup format due in large part to the fact that they are not proprietary.

“Back then, a lack of standardization in soft pod dimensions and brewer compatibility created confusion and prevented soft pods from competing seriously. For several years, soft pods seemed to languish in a distant third and fourth place among single-cup formats. Of course, these issues have long since been resolved. Today, consumers and OCS operators alike are experiencing the incredible value, flexibility and sustainability of this format,” she explained.

Pods more attractive in the post-COVID world

Cappagli pointed to the impact of COVID-19 on the growth potential of soft pods. According to recent data from the National Coffee Association, 80% of people feel single-cup brewers are sanitary; 62% feel drip brewers are sanitary. “As offices open up, this reality will help support operators’ opportunities to move clients to higher profit single-cup systems,” she said.

Alliant’s commitment

“Everything we do at Alliant is inspired by our OCS customers. For many coffee and hot beverage product companies, OCS is a peripheral market segment. Not for Alliant. Solving the unique challenges of consumption in an office breakroom and meeting the specific needs of OCS operators motivates everything we do. Every single product in our catalog has been developed to maximize the breakroom experience,” Cappagli said.

“Our OCS customers asked us for a better-quality bulk soft pod line to meet the needs of the value side of the market. Donut Shop Drive Thru is our response.”

For more information about Donut Shop Drive Thru and other products from Alliant Coffee Solutions, call (800) 465-4240 or email [email protected].

About the Author

Industry consultant and contributor Bob Tullio is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up and advises suppliers on how to successfully connect with operators. Tullio’s YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, is designed to “elevate your business in two minutes.” Tullio is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business. Visit to learn more about VMW's contributing editor and his b2b services.


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