Why Japan's 7-Elevens Are A Sweet Paradise For Iced Coffee Loving Tourists

Let's be honest, you probably wouldn't go out of your way to hit up a 7-Eleven while visiting a different city in the United States, right? Typically reserved for quick snacks and emergency supplies to make your road trip a lot more bearable, the convenience store is great, sure — but does it really warrant a detour? Our guess is probably not.

However, and here's where things get interesting, 7-Elevens outside of the U.S. — specifically, in Japan — are built a little differently. And no, we don't mean physically different — they look just like the one you'd find on the corner outside your apartment. However, it's what's inside them that'll have you making room for a special stop.

Unlike your neighborhood 7-Eleven, Japan's versions have turned things around to offer a more gourmet experience. Trading up Slurpees for fresh-made smoothies, hot dogs for on-the-go seafood lunches, and even standard chips for high-quality snacks, it's nothing like what you'd get back home. And in between the for-rent cellphone chargers and DIY ramen stations, there's one more gem that stands out: the customizable coffee. A coffee shop experience inside a streetside convenience store? Talk about innovation.

Getting your iced coffee fix in Japan's 7-Elevens

A TikTok video by user @skyelovestacos showcased the entire coffee-making experience while visiting a 7-Eleven in Japan. Calling it "elite", the video shows Skye grabbing an ice-filled cup from a freezer, paying for the beverage, and then heading over to the machine to begin the process. Freshly brewed, the coffee pours into the cup — and voilá! A clear step up from the bottled and canned drinks that taste like stale coffee.


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♬ Coffee Shop – Late Night Luke

While Skye purchased a large iced cafe latte, 7-Eleven also offers regular lattes, as well as regular and large iced americanos. A hot version of these drinks is also available to purchase. Basically, it's the perfect caffeine fix for introverts who don't want to deal with ordering at a cafe — especially in a different language.

In 2023, the brand even added a new beverage to its roster: fresh-brewed tea. Similar to how it works with their self-serve coffee, customers can choose between Darjeeling, an Assam blend, or Earl Grey. Once paid for, the drink is available both iced and hot, and can also be ordered with or without milk.

Other must-haves from 7-Eleven in Japan

Don't enjoy coffee or tea? Don't worry — there are still other options available for you to partake in the whole experience. On one hand, you've got the fresh fruit smoothies. To make one, head over to the fridge and grab your flavor of choice: banana, mango and pineapple, strawberry and banana, double berry, and greens (made with veggies). Once you've made your decision, scan the barcode on the cup with the machine, place the cup inside, and watch it spin very quickly while it blends it all together. The result? A creamy, flavor-packed smoothie that's perfect for an on-the-go treat.

For something a little heartier, Japan's 7-Elevens also have a variety of fresh to-go lunches, snacks, and bottled drinks that customers can enjoy. And while convenience store sushi — especially in the home of sushi — might sound a little dodgy ... there's really nothing to worry about. Even though 7-Eleven sushi probably won't snag a spot on the list as one of Japan's most acclaimed culinary destinations, tourists and locals alike are known for getting their (late-night) fill at the convenience store without any food poisoning or pesky stomach bugs in sight. 

Lastly, other 7-Eleven goodies you can't skip include stuffed rice balls (onigiri), Sakeru cheese, instant yakisoba, furutsu sando (aka, fruit sandwiches), and — according to one enthusiastic Reddit thread — the classic egg salad sandwich. Anyone else hungry by now, or is that just us?