Convenience stores wage ‘war of 1,000 won coffee’

Convenience stores wage ‘war of 1,000 won coffee’

It started with Starbucks selling coffees for more than 3,500 won ($2.90) a cup. But convenience stores are now vying to win over the burgeoning local roasted coffee market with its cheap but equally tasty beverages at thousands of outlets.

The “war of 1,000 won coffee” is expected to intensify this year when the convenience stores with broad production and sales networks target coffee lovers in need of affordable coffee in their neighborhood. They are expected to compete with the instant powdered coffee-makers and cafe heavyweights such as Starbucks, Caffe Bene, Ediya and others to grab a fair share of the 6 trillion won coffee market that is growing by 6 percent every year.

CU’s Cafe Get

The front-runner is 7-Eleven, which plans to triple the number of its “Seven Cafe” shop-in-shop coffee kiosks inside its regular outlets by year-end to 3,000.

The automated coffee machine filters the oily or micro-scale irregular substances from the 100 percent Arabica coffee beans and begins the drip after 40 seconds. Every seventh and 11th cup the customer purchases is free.

“Considering that we launched the coffee stand in January 2015, we can see the potential,” company CEO Jung Seoung-in said. Jung held an annual company operation kickoff ceremony at its coffee bean roasting factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on Jan. 4 to add weight to the drip-coffee businesses.

“With the quality roasted coffee beans and dipping process, we are confident that we will win the market in the near future,” he said, adding that the cafe kiosk’s sales marked 84.7 percent growth on-year.

BGF Retail, which runs convenience store CU, launched its exclusive drip-coffee brand “Cafe Get,” which uses coffee beans within seven days of roasting. It guarantees relatively fresh taste, the company said.

GS25, the convenience store arm of GS Group, launched Cafe25 in August. At more than 1,000 outlets where coffee sales are active, the company has installed automated espresso machines which are priced at more than 10 million won to secure a delicate but sophisticated finishing touch of the beverages.

Both companies are known to have seen double-digit growth in sales.

“People are seeking practical and reasonable consumption at a time of economic stagnation,” a source at 7-Eleven said.

“And they love the fact that convenience stores are open around the clock and located at virtually every corner. We expect the sales to soar this year, too,” she added.

According to government data, Korean adults drink coffee 1.7 times a day on average, more often than they eat mixed or white rice.


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