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Leon Kaye headshot

7-Eleven Announces First Sustainably-Sourced Coffee

By Leon Kaye

It has happened to all of us. You were either too lazy to take out a filter and measure grounds for that morning pot of coffee, or maybe the coffee pod machine broke once again. The drive-thru at the local Starbucks was way too long. So, out of desperation, you swing by 7-Eleven to grab a cup of coffee, add about five or six of those Coffee Mate hazelnut-flavored creamer shots, hope no one you know sees you, and then head on to work. You would never admit it, but you actually enjoyed that guilty pleasure.

Now, however, you have one reason to feel less guilty about stopping by that corner convenience store. Last week, 7-Eleven announced that it would start offering a Rainforest Alliance-certified brew at participating stores.

The coffee is sourced from Matagalpa, a region in central Nicaragua that has produced coffee since the mid 19th century. The beans from Matagalpa are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, an NGO that has been working with farmers on sustainable farming practices for over 20 years. The new coffee, sporting that little frog symbolizing fair trade and environmental responsibility to many, will be priced the same as the other coffee varieties across 7-Eleven’s convenience stores.

This announcement is a big change for 7-Eleven, which often flies under the radar but still has a huge presence around the world. The Japanese-owned chain is a fixture in many neighborhoods, with over 10,700 locations in North America and more than 50,000 overseas. In the U.S., estimates suggest the company is the fourth largest seller of coffee, coming only behind McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. The impact of its operations and its products’ supply chains cannot be denied, and coffee is one place to start.

To that end, 7-Eleven announced this summer that it would work with the NGO Conservation International (CI) in order to establish corporate responsibility goals for the next several years. That agenda includes an energy efficiency program, steps to reduce unnecessary packaging and starting next year, a boost in corporate giving. With all those cups flying out of its stores throughout the day, coffee would naturally be a part of 7-Eleven’s shift to becoming a more responsible and environmentally conscious company.

It is important to remember that this is only one coffee option, and 7-Eleven made it clear that this Nicaraguan cup of java will not be available at all of its locations. Nevertheless, this is one significant step towards making sustainable business the norm, not the exception. Long known for the Big Gulp and calorie-laden hot dogs, 7-Eleven is now on the healthier and more socially conscious bandwagon.

Image credit: 7-Eleven

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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