The petrol station partnership comes just a few months after the start-up coffee chain raised $2m seed funding and outlined plans to reach 100 small-format sites by October 2024
The inaugural abCoffee pod at Anuradha Gas Station in Mumbai, India | Photo credit: abCoffee
Indian coffee start-up abCoffee has partnered with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to launch drive-thru sites across the petrol giant’s petrol station network.
The first ‘abCoffee pod’ opened at Anuradha Gas Station in Mumbai on 27 November 2023. While neither party said how many abCoffee pods will be opened, IOCL said it would scale the concept across its 41,000-store retail footprint, which comprises more than 32,000 petrol stations.
The pods will serve abCoffee’s hot and cold coffee beverage menu alongside on-the-go snacks. Customers can place orders through the on-site drive-thru system or via abCoffee’s online pre-ordering platform.
“We are on a mission to democratise specialty coffee in India. We believe everyone should have access to great quality coffee at affordable prices. Another subset of this vision is that coffee is a convenience item that people can order and grab on the go and consume India’s best-grown coffees as their daily lifestyle beverage and not as a luxury,” said Abhijeet Anand, CEO, abCoffee.
In October 2023, abCoffee raised $2m seed funding to accelerate outlet expansion and scale its product range. The small-format coffee chain currently operates 14 stores across Mumbai and Delhi NCR and also offers delivery via digital platforms Swiggy and Zomato. abCoffee plans to reach 100 sites within 12 months.
Despite being commonplace in the US and the Middle East, drive-thru stores are not a prominent feature of the Indian coffee shop market which often lacks the retail space and infrastructure to accommodate the format, especially in heavily populated city centres.
Starbucks took eight years to open its first drive-thru site in India, with the format currently comprising only six of the US coffee chain’s 350-store network in the country. In comparison, approximately 70% of Starbucks’ 9,300 company-operated stores across the US offer drive-thru.
Additionally, Costa Coffee opened its first drive-thru store in India in December 2021 – 16 years after entering the market.