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Grocery Stores Are Bringing Back This Coffee and Tea Perk

Hot beverage stations are back.

Buffets and beverage stations may not be a thing of the past after all. Grocery stores are finding ways to bring back some of the pre-pandemic amenities for shoppers, and hot food and tea and coffee stations are among them.

During the pandemic, food bars and buffet-style self-service stations were removed from restaurants and grocery stores due to the potential transmission dangers they pose during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the FDA issued a recommendation as early as March for all self-serve food businesses to be closed until the pandemic subsides. (Related: 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply.)

But with new, boosted safety measures and a few operational tweaks, the hot beverage and food stations are back at stores like Whole Foods. According to Supermarket News, the grocer has recently opened up their hot food and coffee stations with a few adjustments. For one, the self-serve is no longer, and the food and coffee are now dispensed to customers by team members, while sanitation measures have been increased as well.

A representative for Boise Co-op, a grocery store in Boise, Idaho, told Supermarket News that their business has taken similar measures in bringing back hot coffee and tea. "Our biggest shift is that we used to offer a self-service drip coffee program; we now keep all our drip coffee behind the service counter and fill cups to order," he said.

Additionally, some grocers like Hy-Vee are serving hot coffee in their stores but are foregoing reusable cups, requiring each free refill to be served in a brand new cup out of an abundance of caution.

While customers seem to be on board with the return of these amenities in grocery stores, the CDC guidelines still broadly advise against operating any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations. And while the new setups are eliminating the need to share utensils and handles, they may still compromise social distancing if lines are forming around these service areas.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more
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