Foodservice

Circle K Seeking to Change Perceptions About ‘C-Store Coffee’

Retailer conducts ‘social experiment’ ahead of U.S. chainwide java giveaway
Photograph courtesy of Circle K

Update: Holiday Stationstores is joining sister convenience-store brand Circle K in offering free coffee chainwide on Jan. 25, available at more than 525 locations in 10 states.

Circle K will offer customers a free cup of coffee on Jan. 25 as part of a “social experiment” to change negative consumer perceptions of convenience-store coffee.

The chain said it serves more than 120 million cups of coffee across the U.S. annually. And it recently invested in installing new bean-to-cup self-serve barista-quality coffee machines in its more than 7,000 U.S. stores. The machines use 100% sustainably sourced premium coffee beans, said the company.

For this experiment, to avoid the bias of the “convenience-store coffee” tag coloring consumer perceptions, Circle K took inspiration from blind taste tests and created a “Kafe”-branded coffee truck, which it said is the type typically associated with artisan, barista-style coffee vendors, and served the same coffee available in its U.S. stores to passers-by. The testers asked participants for their taste and quality impressions before revealing the Circle K logo.

“There was a resounding vote of confidence from guests who unanimously loved the Circle K coffee,” Circle K said.

Click here to watch the social experiment play out.

“At Circle K we’re really proud of the coffee we offer our customers and believe it stacks up against the world’s best cups of coffee. So proud, in fact, that we’re giving it away for free for everyone to give it a try,” said David Hall, vice president of global food service at Circle K. “We imagine after trying our coffee, you will love it as much as we do.”

 is moving forward globally under a single brand, Simply Great Coffee.

  • Alimentation Couche-Tard is No. 2 on CSP’s 2022 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count.

Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard’s 24-country network of approximately 14,300 c-stores includes more than 7,100 in the United States, primarily under the Circle K and Holiday Stationstores banners, and approximately 2,100 in Canada under the Circle K, Mac’s and Couche-Tard banners.

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