Truckstops = Coffeehouses with copious rig parking?

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Cariboucoffee1A new index tracking sales of goods and services at highway truckstops, the McLane-NATSO quarterly index, recently tracked an interesting rise in the sale of hot beverages like coffees, cappucinos and teas at truckstops. That category of sales jumped 34 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year, suggesting to me at least a little more than freight picking up.

Turns out NATSO thinks so, too — in some sense, anyway. “Truckstops … are continuously diversifying their product offerings to meet the demands of the marketplace,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings in the organization’s press release about findings from the index.

Not only are you benefiting from the quality improvements many stops have gotten out of a coffee bean of late. They’ve led to the situation I often happily find myself in on the road in my little four-wheeler, skipping over the highway-exit Starbucks in favor of the Pilot or TA or Flying J for a quick cuppa. Other four-wheelers have no doubt followed suit.

There’s more good coffee coming, too. You may have seen NATSO’s announcement of a marketing partnership with Minnesota-headquartered Caribou Coffee, which holds a special place in my caffeinated memory as one of the first of the chain coffeeshops I ever frequented. If my memory serves, North Carolina, particularly the Chapel Hill area, had a Caribou location or two well before Starbucks was so ubiquitous. The coffee was just awesome — and still is. In any case, here’s hoping the truckstops keep the quality improvement up in the more crucial areas, too. If only they had good control of the price of fuel, eh?

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