7-Eleven launches new premium African coffee
- 7-Eleven has introduced Seven Reserve brand fresh-brewed premium coffees at the same price as its other hot beverages, according to a company press release. Seven Reserve Africa Blend is a combination of 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified Arabica beans from Ethiopia and Rwanda.
- This rollout is part of a “new segment” of 7-Eleven’s business, which will include coffees originating from “exotic locales specifically known for producing the finest coffees,” Shawn Barnes, senior category manager for hot beverages, said in the statement.
- This is a good time to jump into the premium space. A National Coffee Association trends study found that six in 10 of all cups of coffee consumed are classified as specialty coffee. Specialty or gourmet coffee consumption has grown every year since 2001, and is defined as coffee made using premium whole beans or ground varieties.
McDonald’s McCafé and Starbucks thrust premium coffee into the mainstream with their ubiquitous footprints. 7-Eleven’s dive into premium coffee has big implications as well, specifically in making the product even more accessible by offering it at the same price as the c-store chain’s other hot beverages.
7-Eleven – which has nearly 11,000 U.S. locations – is touting its new coffee’s sourcing, subtly educating consumers that this isn’t their grandparents' cup of joe. The brand is wise to focus on its source as a differentiator, as it shows the company is forward thinking and mindful of sustainable practices, as well as its relationship with small coffee farmers. As 7-Eleven’s senior category manager Shawn Barnes explained in the release, “We know our customers care about coffee crops that are responsibly grown and sourced directly from small farms.”
The premium rollout is a big win for consumers, who are increasingly seeking “gourmet” coffee — a record-high 59% of consumers, compared to 46% in 2012, according to the National Coffee Association.
Younger consumers are driving this trend — coffee drinkers under the age of 35 are more likely to drink it on the go — indicating that the premium coffee market has some legitimate staying power, especially at c-stores.
Though this is the c-store chain’s first foray into African-sourced coffee, 7-Eleven is no stranger to the coffee business, including specialty coffee. According to a 2012 study reported on by CSP Daily News, 7-Eleven is the nation's fourth-largest seller of hot coffee, which should make this latest execution relatively seamless.
It is also good timing as the chain works to elevate its food and beverage offerings overall, selling everything from cold-pressed organic juices to chipotle garlic hummus and pretzels. This focus on food and beverage offerings is an attempt to balance declining gas, cigarette and soda sales that have hit the c-store category especially hard. If 7-Eleven is willing to explore a “new segment,” premium coffee makes plenty of sense right now.
- 7-Eleven Out of Africa
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