7‑Eleven Inc. is rolling out the first limited-time coffee available under its new Seven Reserve brand of fresh-brewed premium coffees. The Seven Reserve Africa Blend is a 50-50 combination of 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified Arabica beans cultivated on small farms in the countries of Ethiopia and Rwanda.
“This isn’t just a new coffee flavor for 7‑Eleven, it’s an entirely new segment of our business, in which we will be introducing coffees originating from exotic locales specifically known for producing the finest coffees,” said Shawn Barnes, 7‑Eleven senior category manager for hot beverages. “Seven Reserve targets serious coffee-drinkers who are looking for a richer, more intense coffee flavor, but that’s just part of the equation. We know our customers also care about coffee crops that are responsibly grown and sourced directly from small farms.”
Africa Blend is 7‑Eleven stores’ first duo-Arabica coffee to carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. Since 2016, 7‑Eleven has introduced four Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees—Nicaragua, Mexico, Peruvian and Colombian, all responsibly grown. Single-origin 100 percent Colombian Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee is now a permanent offering and top-seller on the hot beverage bar, says the retailer.
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Carrying the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal means the 100 percent Arabica beans are sourced from coffee-growers whose farms are required to meet strict standards designed to protect the environment, conserve wildlife and promote the well-being of local communities.
“Industrywide, there is a strong push to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural commodity. 7‑Eleven’s commitment to responsible sourcing is helping to advance that goal,” said Laura Donnelly, senior associate of markets transformation at Rainforest Alliance. “By working with smallholder farmers, 7‑Eleven is also helping to transform farmer livelihoods, ensuring a quality coffee supply into the future.”
Ethiopian coffee beans grown in the Yirgacheffe area are considered by many to be among the world’s finest, says 7-Eleven, with a “full-bodied, intense flavor highlighted by citrus tones.” The East African country is the birthplace of coffee, and Yirgacheffe is one of its oldest cultivated areas.
The Rwandan coffee is cultivated in the Nyamagabe district and named for the Nyarusiza and Remera coffee-washing station. “Its sweet, chocolatey undertones, finished by vanilla caramel notes, complement the Ethiopian beans’ fruity acidity,” says 7-Eleven.
With this new line, 7-Eleven hopes to tap into a growing specialty coffee market. According to the annual National Coffee Association coffee-drinking trends study, six in 10 of all cups of coffee consumed are classified as specialty coffee. Specialty, or gourmet, coffee consumption has shown dramatic growth every year since 2001 and is defined as coffee and coffee drinks made using premium whole beans or ground varieties. Future Seven Reserve coffees will include both exotic blends and single-origin brews from top growing areas around the world.
“7‑Eleven coffee-drinkers recognize great quality and taste, and the RFA-certified premium coffees have become some of our best-selling hot beverages,” Barnes said. “We will continue to work with our importers to identify unique blends and the highest quality beans for the Seven Reserve brand.”
Seven Reserve Africa Blend coffee is available at participating 7‑Eleven stores and is offered at the same price as all other hot beverages.
Based in Irving, Texas, 7‑Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 65,000 stores in 18 countries, including 11,600 in North America.