Convenience stores have been in the business of serving up snacks, cold drinks and five-cent candies for as long as any of us can remember, and their coffee only ever needed to be as good as was tolerable for the price and speed of service.
We call this the “coffee is coffee” category, or the “that’ll do” utility brew that isn’t anything to write home about, but is always there to help you face an early morning.
This might have been where convenience store coffee started, but it’s not where 7-Eleven’s coffee story ends.
The 24-hour chain could have left the bean arms race to the barista brands with the fancy Italian machines. But instead, they decided to go all craft brewery on the coffee industry. 7-Eleven has been quietly offering small-batch brews of hand-selected, 100% premium Arabica beans behind the scenes. Now, their award-winning drinks are ready to take center-stage.
Why Would a Big Chain Go Small-Batch?
Small-batch roasting is a term that gets tossed around a lot. But as any coffee lover knows, it’s important because roasting small batches of beans gives the roaster more control over the taste and quality of the coffee. Under-roasting and over-roasting (ahem, burning) detracts from the flavour, and roasting smaller amounts at a time makes it easier to achieve a higher level of consistency.
7-Eleven takes small-batch roasting an extra step further by having its ethically sourced, 100% Arabica beans shipped to Canada. Here, the beans are processed, hand picked and roasted locally before they’re sent off to stores across Canada. This all happens within 36 hours (which means that roast is always fresh as daisies). A robust cross-Canada convenience store shipping network has its perks, people.
What Is an Arabica Bean and Why Should I Care?
Despite how it’s often marketed, Arabica is not a misty jungle town in Costa Rica. It’s actually a specific type of premium coffee plant with a whole swathe of desirable qualities that make its subsequent coffee offerings taste amazing.
Arabica coffee plants also require higher elevations for growth, which generates more complex flavours and adds greater acidity (a.k.a. more interest for your palate) and overall balance.
Bean There, Done That, Won Awards
If only 7-Eleven’s coffee had won a huge award or something – oh wait, yep, it did.
Last year, 7-Eleven took home the 2018 Golden Bean Award. This competition was judged by a panel of experts, including Certified Q Graders, a designation akin to the wine industry’s sommelier.
Notes of smoke and toasted hazelnut, a bit of candied apricot on the nose – these coffee sommeliers have to pass more than 20 exams to get to the level where they can evaluate thousands of coffee entries for their flavour, body, balance and overall taste. And 7-Eleven’s Colombian Single Origin was the coffee that impressed all the judges and took home an award. It even won in a taste test against what’s arguably the most famous coffee shop in the world (guess who). Look out for the Colombian Single Origin as it makes a triumphant return to local coffee taps this September.
That’s All Great, But How Does It Help Me?
If you’re the type who diligently carries a reusable mug around, you’ll be tickled by 7-Eleven’s “Buy This Cup. Plant a Plant” initiative.
For every hot bevvy cup purchased at a 7-Eleven Canada store, Restoration Packaging partners with a local organization to plant new greenery at a restoration site in its respective province. This means that every time you get your coffee fix, you’re helping the planet! The program is designed to help offset the carbon footprint associated with disposable cups while also giving back to local communities.
How can plants help Canadian communities? Well, for starters, they’re only placed at sites that have been damaged by wildfires, over-development, deforestation or urbanization, which helps restore the spaces to their former, greener states. Plus, the program only uses plant seeds and seedlings that are native to the region they’re being planted in, which contributes directly to the reclamation of the habitat.
No, you won’t walk into a 7-Eleven and suddenly be greeted by Trevor, the chipper vest-wearing barista, asking you about your non-dairy milk preference – and maybe that’s okay. Maybe the ethically sourced, Canadian roasted, 100% Arabica exclusive blend medium roast that cost you 50 cents (because you like the environment and brought your own to-go mug) is a nice, satisfying way to kickstart your day. Plus, now you’ve got money left over from that fiver to buy a pack of gum. And some sour candies. And maybe another coffee after lunch (no one’s judging here).