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Ice ice baby: Beijing’s convenience store iced coffees, rated

We tried four convenience store iced coffees to see which has the best brew

Photo: Annabelle Lim
Ah, there really is nothing quite like the good ol’ coffee to get us out of bed in the morning. With Beijing’s hot, sweltering summer upon us, we find ourselves craving our favourite non-alcoholic morning beverage. Iced.

Pan over to convenience stores, the canteen of Beijing's working class. They've got everything you need, from on-site catering services serving typical Chinese food for the working man's lunch, down to mobile phone recharge outlets. So we figured that with thousands of convenience stores scattered all throughout Beijing, we had to see how our icy beverage of choice this summer fare in-stores.

Over the past week, we gathered a list of Beijing's convenience stores, taste tested them, and rated them accordingly. Of course, not all convenience stores sold in-store iced coffees, and those were tragically crossed off from our list. For consistency sake, we're also only rating these convenience store coffees on its most classic caffeine offering: Americano.

All photos by Annabelle Lim.


"Edited 7-11"

Rating: 2/5
Cost: 6RMB medium, 8RMB large.
The fact that 7-11s are everywhere (200 stores in Beijing according to Dianping) is a huge plus point, but in the coffee arena, 7-11 unfortunately disappoints. It's a below average iced Americano in comparison to the other stores – a weak espresso shot that's further diluted doesn't do the coffee any good. Go to 7-11 for coffee only when you're absolutely desperate, though we reckon 6RMB is still a little too pricey for coffee-flavoured water.


"Edited Bianlifeng"

Rating: 4.5/5
Cost: 10RMB medium, 12RMB large
Bianlifeng's our favourite because not only is it everywhere, it's also extremely affordable. Iced coffees can go as low as 6RMB a cup if you buy coupons (usually priced less than 1RMB), which you can activate for your subsequent coffee purchases. The coffee itself is decent enough to give you the right amount of kick, and it's the most worth it for its price point. Bianlifeng's coffees are sold from self-service vending machines. Because of that there's also a satisfyingly minimal amount of human interaction – you get your own ice cups, order via touch screens and pay using QR codes. It's hard to navigate for first-timers, but once we got the hang of it, we just couldn't get over how easy it was to get a cup of coffee without needing to speak to anyone.

Family Mart

"Edited FamilyMart"

Rating: 3.5/5
Cost: 10RMB (one size only)
Family Mart's iced Americanos in a word? Middling. It didn't leave a lasting impression taste-wise nor is it cheap enough to make us come back for another fix. To be fair, for 10RMB, its iced coffee is decent enough to power you through the day, but don't expect it do anything more. This Japanese convenience store franchise chain only has a mere 48 stores city wide, not the most convenient when you're craving for that early morning wake-me-up.


"Edited Lawson"

Rating: 2/5
Cost: 12RMB (one size only)
Lawson only scores a two in our books because we just had to deduct points for its insane inaccessibility. The first two Lawsons we went to either didn't have coffee machines, or didn't have ice cups in stock. When we finally found a branch that offered iced coffees, it was disappointing. The sour coffee notes coupled with diluted coffee water mixture just wasn't very good. Considering it's not the cheapest coffee on our list, you'd do better going elsewhere.
  • 4 out of 5 stars