Bilibee convenience stores extend its coffee offering - food tech news in Asia

Bilibee, a Beijing-based convenience store chain, has been making efforts to extend and upgrade its in-store coffee and bubble tea business with nearly 50 SKUs on the menu. Bilibee has installed new coffee stations called Sober Hi at its stores to offer coffee and tea products at a price of 5 RMB (US$0.78) to 20 RMB (US$3.1).  

Since March this year, Bilibee has opened 2 pilot stores with less than 6 square meters. At present, Sober Hi has opened 337 offline stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Tianjin. Since May, Sober Hi has been gradually adding hand-brewed coffee with baristas at its stores and plans to make the hand-brewed coffee stations an essential part of every outlet in the next few months.

In terms of the menu, Sober Hi is mainly engaged in three categories: coffee, tea, and wine. There are not only some common coffee products such as espresso, and latte, but also hand-brewed coffee series that can be found only in boutique coffee shops. Additionally, there are some creative coffee-flavored drinks that are similar to the current coffee consumption trend, such as sparkling coffee and raw coconut latte at a price of 15 RMB (US$2.33) to 22 RMB (US$3.41). In our previous news, we have mentioned that Coconut milk was changing coffee shops’ menus. Under the tea drinks category, Sober Hi also makes popular bubble tea products like leading brands – Heytea and Nayuki. There are few innovations in the wine category; most of the wine products are fruit wine, and only Coffee Gin Tonic is a coffee-related product.

According to the “White Paper on China’s Freshly Brewed Coffee Industry” released by Deloitte China in April this year, 70% of consumers currently consume freshly brewed coffee in the “fast coffee” scenarios, which includes freshly brewed coffee shops, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, and office coffee machines. In “fast coffee” scenarios, consumers’ top three considerations are taste, convenience, and price.

However, Sober Hi is not the first attempt of Bilibee in the boutique coffee market; back in September 2018, Bilibee opened a BeeSelect café in Haidian District, Beijing, which focused on Italian leisure style and also set up a rest area for consumers. This time Bilibee seems to have deliberately simplified the social, business, and leisure attributes of the “third space” of coffee shops, returning to the convenience store model of grab-and-go.

In the future, Sober Hi will enter Bilibee’s convenience stores in North China, East China, and South China. From the perspective of market prospects, the annual growth rate of coffee consumption in China is 15%, and the market size is expected to reach 1 trillion RMB in 2025.

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