This morning we came across an article in Convenience Store Decisions (how often have you heard that in a sentence?). The convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, has launched a new, multi-million-dollar marketing blitz this month, emphasizing the “guaranteed freshness” of their coffee: Convenience Store Decisions – 7-Eleven Promotes Fresh-Brewed Coffee.

Before reading this article/press release, we weren’t entirely sure who to blame for inventing “to-go” coffee. Second only to perhaps the percolator as the worst atrocity committed upon coffee quality in the past 50 years, 7-Eleven proudly claims the invention of to-go coffee some 40 years ago. In the process, they helped proliferate the dreadful paper coffee cup and turned the coffee-drinking ritual into something akin to a water stop in a long-distance race. (Shouldn’t we just be dumping disposable cups of hot coffee on our heads to wake up in the morning?) 7-Eleven also gave us the Super Big Gulp® — which epitomizes the “bigger is always better” cultural mentality that has helped make us obese and tolerant of extra-long, over-extracted bitter espresso shots.

Oh thank heaven for 7-Eleven recognizing that their coffee needs help

However, 7-Eleven’s coffee freshness campaign at least raises public awareness of a major problem with retail brewed coffee. It may not be the one-minute-old, custom brew from a Clover machine. But then who is going for a cup of Guatemala Cup of Excellence San Jose Ocana to go with their 40-oz Miller High Life, a package of Slim Jims, and a SuperLotto Plus ticket?

Using taglines such as “Our coffee’s fresher than your average Joe” and “Guaranteed fresh or we’ll brew it new,” 7-Eleven says they plan to educate coffee drinkers about the chain’s commitment to quality. Sound like something new? Well, check out this 7-Eleven TV commercial from 1980:

Nothing says “fresh coffee” like Bunn warmers.

But wait until coffee drinkers ask about the freshness of the roast. We all know that pot sitting on the burner is a recipe for bitter taste bud death, but what about roasted coffee that has been oxidizing for weeks, leeching its flavor out into thin air as it sits in inventory? Or the residue of stale coffee oils imparted by brewing equipment that has been either poorly maintained or infrequently cleaned? Going down that freshness path can be a double-edged sword if you plan on only going part way.

Favorite Bay Area monument: what we've long called, 'Father Serra holds up a 7-Eleven'