7-Eleven Celebrates 50 Years of Coffee To Go

Seasonal promotions include 50-cent cups, 7th cup free & pumpkin spice

7-Eleven pumpkin spice coffee, latte

DALLAS -- Calling itself the first national retailer to offer fresh-brewed coffee in to-go cups, 7-Eleven Inc. is celebrating 50 years of on-the-go coffee with 50-cent coffee from Sept. 3 through Sept. 14.

During this time, a small-size coffee will cost just 50 cents at participating 7-Eleven stores. At the same time, the retailer will kick off an "Every 7th Cup Free" coffee-rewards program through its 7-Eleven mobile app.

To participate in 7-Eleven's new coffee loyalty program, customers must download the app in the iTunes App Store or Google Play and register as a member. Texting "BREW" to 711711 will also send a link to download. Clicking the dollar icon at the top of the app's home screen takes the member to the coupon page, where the member's personal bar code and digital coffee punch card reside.

Every time a customer purchases any size cup of coffee, the cashier will scan the member's bar code in the app, which will automatically punch the digital-rewards card. Each purchase earns a punch that shows up as a star icon in the app. After receiving six punches, or stars, a coupon for a free medium coffee will appear in the app. The punch-card process starts over once the free coffee coupon is redeemed.

Brewer’s Half-Dozen

"You've heard of a baker's dozen, 13 for the price of 12," said Nancy Smith, senior vice president of fresh foods and proprietary beverages. "Consider this a brewer's half-dozen, seven cups of coffee for the price of six. Many of our coffee customers are regulars, so they could earn a free medium cup as often as once a week or more if they come in more than once a day. This offer is actually more generous than a baker's dozen: 14 cups for the price of 12."

Before 1964, U.S. coffee-drinkers enjoyed their java either at home or while seated at a restaurant. That's when a new 7-Eleven franchisee, looking for creative, everyday conveniences to offer his customers, began selling coffee by the cup in his Long Island store. The test proved wildly popular, and by the late 1960s, all U.S. 7-Eleven stores were in the brew. Today, 7-Eleven sells more than a million cups each day, and coffee in to-go cups, whether disposable or refillable, is an everyday sight, not just in the U.S., but also around the world.

"I'm not sure people realize that 7-Eleven was the first company in the U.S. to sell coffee to go, or that today we rank fourth in fresh-brewed coffee sales in the U.S.," Smith said. "Since we began offering fresh-brewed coffee 50 years ago, it has been one of our customers' favorite items. So we want to celebrate 50 years by saying thank you to our millions of 7-Eleven coffee lovers."

Coffee, 7-Eleven stores' first venture into serve-yourself beverages, was an instant—make that fresh-brewed—success. Customers liked the opportunity to prepare their coffee the way they wanted it, choosing cup size, regular or decaffeinated coffee, and adding sweeteners and creamers to suit their tastes.

That still holds true today, only with a lot more choices like flavored and single-origin coffees, hot chocolate and cappuccino drinks, flavored creamers, syrups and condiments. 7-Eleven also was the first retailer to offer International Delight flavored creamers and Splenda sweetener in single-serve portions.

All coffee blends are made from 100% Arabica beans and custom roasted for 7-Eleven. Quality checks along the entire process of sourcing and roasting ensure a high-quality product. A typical store will serve several varieties all day long and can brew a fresh batch at a customer's request any time of day.

"We provide all the ingredients to create your favorite coffee drink," Smith said. "And unlike most purveyors of coffee beverages, a cup of 7-Eleven coffee costs the same, regardless of how one chooses to customize their cup."

While coffee consumption in the United States is second only to water, coffee consistently scores as the top-selling, self-serve beverage at 7-Eleven stores.

Fall Flavor

To spice things up, a favorite seasonal flavor is back for the fall. In September, 7-Eleven stores will offer Pumpkin Spice Coffee, along with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, International Delight creamer and syrup.

"We know our customers love pumpkin spice. Now they can have it as a flavored coffee or latte, add Pumpkin Spice creamer and syrup to their favorite 7-Eleven coffee, or pour all four in one cup," Smith said.

7-Eleven will support the "Buy Six, Get Seventh Free" coffee rewards promotion with social media, paid digital media, plus television and radio advertising in select markets.

7-Eleven Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience-retailing industry. Based in Dallas, 7-Eleven operates franchises or licenses more than 10,300 7-Eleven stores in North America. Globally, there are some 55,700 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers