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    Coffee to Keep the Doctor Away

    7-Eleven launches herb-infused Fusion Defense brew in time for cold and flu season.

    DALLAS -- In anticipation of this year's cold and flu season, 7-Eleven Inc. is launching Fusion Defense coffee, a new brew infused with echinacea, ginseng and astragalus, all herbs thought to help boost the body’s immune system, the chain said in a statement.

    This introduction by the world's largest c-store retailer, which sells 1 million-plus cups of coffee every day, comes just months after the company broke new ground with its Fusion Energy, believed to be the first herb-enhanced coffee-to-go in the United States.

    Fusion Energy is infused with guarana, ginseng and yerba mate, herbs thought to boost energy and sharpen mental alertness. It will remain in the coffee line-up, while other Fusion coffees are rotated in and out, and for as long as customers want the product, Donald Driver, 7-Eleven category manager for hot beverages, said in a statement.

    "When we launched Fusion Energy earlier this year, it really captured the attention of 7-Eleven coffee drinkers. Introducing Fusion Defense is a logical choice for us to offer now because coffee sales perk up in the fall when temperatures drop, and the cold and flu season begins," Driver said, adding that "the company also is looking at other herbal blends to offer consumers in response to their desires for a variety of health-related attributes."

    Available at participating 7-Eleven stores this fall, Fusion Defense coffee features a darker, richer roast of Arabica beans than Fusion Energy, which is more comparable in taste to 7-Eleven's Exclusive Blend, the retailer's most popular brew. 7-Eleven's Dark Mountain Roast is the base coffee blend for Fusion Defense, according to the company.

    The new product will be sold at participating stores, except in Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and southern Nevada. 7-Eleven stores in these areas instead will introduce Exclusive Bold coffee, a rich, full-bodied blend, similar to the coffee sold at 7-Eleven stores in the Northeast.

    According to the National Coffee Association's 2006 study on coffee-drinking trends, Americans are gaining awareness of recent medical findings about the health benefits of drinking coffee. More than half (53 percent) responded that they had heard the good news about coffee and health versus just over one-third (37 percent) in 2005. In 2007, those numbers continue to grow with more than two-thirds of Americans regarding coffee as a "natural beverage," 7-Eleven noted.

    7-Eleven coffee roasters blend the proprietary mixture of herbs for the Fusion Energy and Fusion Defense varieties with the fresh-roasted, fresh-ground coffees to stringent specifications. Both Fusion offerings retail for the same price as every other hot beverage served at their stores.

    "Fusion provides a great value to customers," Driver said. "Regardless of which hot beverage variety our customers select, they're all available at the same low price. The cost of each beverage is based on each cup's volume in terms of ounces, not the beverage inside the cup."

    Based in Dallas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 7,300 stores in North America. Globally, the company operates, franchises or licenses some 33,000 stores in 17 countries and one U.S. territory. During 2006, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $44 billion.

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