7‑Eleven Brews Up Seven Reserve Africa Blend Coffee

7‑Eleven headed straight to the continent of Africa for the first limited-time coffee available under the company’s new Seven Reserve private brand of fresh-brewed premium coffees. Africa is considered the birthplace of one of the world’s most popular beverages.

The Seven Reserve Africa Blend is a 50-50 combination of 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Arabica beans cultivated on small farms in the countries of Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Seven Reserve Africa Blend coffee is available at participating 7‑Eleven stores and is offered at the same low price as all other hot beverages.

“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,” he added. “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% Colombian Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee is now a permanent offering and top-seller on the hot beverage bar.

The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Carrying the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal with the little green frog 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.”

Grown in the Yirgacheffe area of Ethiopia, these select, hand-picked coffee beans are considered by many to be among the world’s finest, 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.

A medium roast was selected to develop the right balance of each coffee’s best characteristics while not overwhelming or masking their inherent flavors with a dark roast.

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.

7‑Eleven is working with Conservation International (CI) to set measurable corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals to reduce its environmental footprint. 7‑Eleven’s CSR mission has three focus areas – planet, products and people. Using 2015 as a baseline, 7‑Eleven set objectives to reduce its carbon footprint and increase community engagement in the U.S. and Canada.

The retailer is a member of CI’s Business and Sustainability Council, a forum for corporate leaders taking positive environmental actions in their businesses, to explore mutually beneficial ways to further reduce its environmental impact.

As part of its CSR objectives, 7‑Eleven will continue to seek out responsibly sourced coffees and other products and packaging with less environmental impact. 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.”

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.