Revel Blog

How Integrations Play Into a Successful Coffee Shop POS Platform

Sydney Kida | June 6, 2024 |

Open API Featured Article
How Integrations Play Into a Successful Coffee Shop POS Platform

Founded in 2008 in Portland, OR, Black Rock Coffee Bar has quickly catapulted to more than 135 locations in seven states and is on pace to continue opening between 30-40 new storefronts each year. 

Black Rock is known for a range of beverages—from premium coffee and energy drinks to signature offerings like their trademark “frozen fuel”—and has made a name for itself amongst a loyal (and expanding) customer base. Founded on the tenants of hand-crafted excellence and close connection to community neighborhoods, the coffee chain has a culture as resonant as its ritualistic, caffeinated products. 


As with many food and beverage service brands in growth mode, Black Rock needed technology designed to keep pace with its constant expansion. 

“We came to the point where we had outgrown our prior point of sale,” says Derek Tonn, VP of analytics for Black Rock Coffee Bar. “That's what kicked off the whole process of looking for a new technology partner.” 

Of course, point of sale (POS) platform providers are jockeying for hospitality brands in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Fortune Business Insights reports that the POS market is projected to grow to USD $13.49 billion by 2030 in the United States alone. 

It’s also no secret that few hospitality operators launch a business concept with a laser focus on operational technology. The team at Black Rock needed a solution that was relatively easy to implement, would allow the brand’s operations to continue uninterrupted, and could scale as an amplifier of its excellent product and service offerings rather than a distraction (or worse, a detractor to them). 

Hunting for the Best Coffee Shop Point of Sale

And so the search began. 

“Some of the biggest roadblocks we ran into were the ability to integrate,” says Tonn. “When you're getting to that enterprise level and you start wanting to plug in different systems so that you can run more efficiently in different areas—whether it be time and attendance, or you want to integrate your third party delivery partners, or online ordering so that you can have all the data in one spot instead of having to pull it from different locations—that was the biggest roadblock. Our prior system wanted to do everything in house, but they weren't really able to execute that.” 

The very roadblocks Tonn outlined served as a technology roadmap informing a search for the right coffee shop POS. At the top of the list was an open application programming interface (API) that would allow Black Rock to add new capabilities to a technology core designed to scale with the business. 

A Best-of-Breed Approach to Technology

Tonn and his team were taking a best-of-breed approach to technology. What is a best-of-breed approach? It uses an API to integrate leading solutions to a single, core technology platform, in this case, for a coffee shop POS system.

There are a few ways this approach differs from an all-in-one platform approach: 

  • It prioritizes choice, customization and flexibility
  • It is designed to scale
  • It can (in some cases) require a larger upfront investment

For Black Rock, Revel’s cloud POS platform checked the boxes for the coffee chain’s needs. “With Revel, we now have our preferred tech stack that enables us to streamline operations and deliver the best possible guest experience, while also having the right data at our fingertips to continually improve our performance,” says Tonn. 

The POS lies at the heart of the tech stack, and the boutique coffee chain is leveraging integrated solutions for the following: 

  • Employee scheduling and clock-ins (7shifts)
  • Employee tipping (Gratuity Solutions)
  • Third-party delivery (Otter)
  • Loyalty rewards (Paytronix)
  • Data and reporting (custom integration) 

Black Rock also implemented some of Revel’s in-house add-on solutions, including mobile order takers, a kitchen display system and Revel Data Connector.  

Today's tech providers need to offer more than flashy features and functionalities; they need to demonstrate their ability to be a lasting partner.

“Given the constantly evolving technology landscape for restaurants, our Revel platform provides innovative brands like Black Rock Coffee Bar the freedom to evolve in the ways they desire, allowing them to choose preferred solutions from specialists and industry leaders,” says Chris Lybeer, chief strategy officer at Revel Systems. 


Indeed, partnership is non-negotiable in a client-centric approach to on-going tech development. The very brands utilizing technology need a mechanism for regular feedback. 

Through recurring touchpoints and an open feedback loop, Black Rock partners with Revel to stay current on the latest technology and add other best-in-class integrations to their platform. This webinar recording features an even closer look at Black Rock’s best-of-breed approach to technology and the many ways the team takes advantage of its partnership with Revel. 

One Cloud Platform Plus Many Integrations Yields a Happy Ecosystem

Revel’s platform was implemented at 130 Black Rock locations in a matter of months. Rapid rollout is another major benefit to cloud technology. Training was quick and straightforward, too. Because Revel is built for the iPad, it boasts an intuitive user interface that makes employee adoption familiar to anyone who can operate a smartphone.  

Where Black Rock’s long-term vision is concerned, smooth tech implementation is just the beginning. Tonn and his team expect their latest investment in an open, revamped tech stack to be a catalyst for a lasting and fruitful ecosystem. 

“If you are going to be successful, you've fundamentally got to get more efficient,” says Tonn. “You have to drive more revenue under your roof, period. And, really, the best way to do that in any industry—technology is usually the way that's solved. So, I think technology is going to be the key to getting where we all need to be and to having a successful industry.” 

Learn more about Revel’s coffee POS (or solutions for other restaurants and retailers) to join the Black Rock team in a best-of-breed approach to technology.