Coffee Drives Sales at Taiwan C-stores

In a tea-centric society, convenience stores are grabbing customers with fresh-brewed coffee.

October 05, 2018

TAIPEI, Taiwan – In the land where tea has reigned as the hot beverage of choice for centuries, fresh-brewed coffee has become a major sales driver at convenience stores, the Taipei Times reports.

Sales of fresh coffee jumped 17% last year to reach $521 million for the country’s five c-store chains (Hi-Life International Co., OK Mart Convenience Store, President Chain Store Corp./7-Eleven, Taiwan FamilyMart Co. and Taiwan Sugar Corp/TSC Million). Coffee sales grabbed 40% of the $1.2 billion beverage sales.

These numbers put coffee in the number-five slot in product sales, after tobacco, other beverages, sandwiches and hot meals, but coffee registered a 50% gross margin, the highest of any other product category.

Coffee’s growing popularity has chains focusing on making sure their coffee is better than the competition’s. “We insist on high standards in eight areas,” including the machines, water, roasting, coffee beans and baristas, said Lillian Lin, President Chain Store public relations manager. The City Café at 7-Eleven stores sold around 300 million cups of coffee in 2017.

7-Eleven launched its drip coffee in 1986, and its Street Coffee brand 15 years later, but didn’t find success until 2004 when it debuted its City Café brand—and coffee sales started to catch on. Hi-Life promotes hot coffee drinks with ginseng in colder months, while OK Mart offers iced coffee.

In 2009, Taiwan FamilyMart’s Let’s Cafe debuted, and the brand continues to grow thanks to a membership program and a focus on its brews. FamilyMart has a line of coffees that are promoted as “single origin, single bean” with the specific farm listed on each label.