Shreyas Kulkarni

Blue Tokai brews a cold one; introduces flavoured coffee cans

A quick chat with CEO and co-founder Matt Chitharanjan on why the need to roll out such an offering.

Brewing a cup of coffee is not everybody’s cup of tea. So, how about you crack open a cold one? No, it is not what you think. We refer to a can of Cold Brew flavoured coffee from Blue Tokai.

Its newest offering, the Cold Brew can “condenses Blue Tokai’s traditional cold brew process and its expertise into a delicious and accessible form”, will be available in six unique flavours, namely Coffee Cherry, Tender Coconut, Passion Fruit, Classic Bold, Classic Light and the Single Origin from Ratnagiri Estate.

The Cold Brew is not new to Blue Tokai because it already sells them in teabag form and in bottles.

Blue Tokai brews a cold one; introduces flavoured coffee cans

The cans are available as a pack of two or six. Each can is 250ml. You can even get an assorted six-pack, carrying all six flavours together. The pack of two costs Rs 380 while the assorted six-pack costs Rs 999.

Coffee cans are not new but a tender coconut flavour caught my eye; if you grew up gorging on Natural’s tender coconut ice cream in Mumbai, you know what I mean. To satiate my inquisitiveness about the Cold Brew cans, I had a little chat with Matt Chitharanjan, Co-Founder and CEO, Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters.

Edited Excerpts:

1. What made you choose to introduce a line of flavoured coffee cans?

We wanted to make the Cold Brew more convenient and a canned form does that, it also makes it more transportable, and more accessible. Also, with a can, we can add more flavour varieties such as Coconut and Passion Fruit which helps open Cold Brew to a wider audience. It becomes a product that will fit anybody regardless of where they are in their coffee journey. If you're a coffee expert, you will appreciate the single estate, the Ratnagiri, our most popular coffee, if you are an existing customer, you will like to have light and bold.

2. You say “wider audience”, why not focus on a specific target group or the established Blue Tokai consumer cohort?

Our goal has always been to widen the people who are into and understand speciality coffee. This is a product that will appeal to all our customers and expand the market. We feel the Cold Brew, because of its flavours and portability and accessibility, is a good product for us to push that mission forward.

3. How did you zero in on the new flavours?

We wanted to pick unique flavours but that are also very India. Tender coconut is a flavour that is very common and understood and it pairs very well with Cold Brew. We did a lot of experimentation of different flavour combinations: We tried things like Jamun and orange but also wanted to pick Indian flavours that paired well with the inherent flavours of the coffee and the Cold Brew. Tender coconut worked well with bold coffee which is a bit more chocolaty whereas the passion fruit paired well with the light Cold Brew which already has fruitier flavours.

4. You will go up against brands selling coffee in cans and tetra packs, dine-ins at cafes, restaurants, and hotels, and their delivery service… Your thoughts?

We don't look at it as competing with them. When you talk about restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops, we already supply our coffee to many of them because they want to serve better-bodied coffee in their establishments. So, this is a very complementary product that any restaurant that wants to serve coffee can offer a Cold Brew can as an option to their customers. They have their own audience, their own target market, and we've been working with them since the beginning... B2B supply has been a big part of our business.

5. What were the discussions you had with the design agency on the cans?

This was a partnership between our internal team and our agency ‘Please See’. We wanted to focus on packaging that reflects it is an Indian coffee product. So, we partnered with different indigenous artists to create illustrations in different art forms and we wanted to bring that on to the can as well. The design is clean and modern but also weaves in the Indian aspect.

6. How do you plan to market the Cold Brew cans?

The first step will be to use our network of cafes to market them right there. Our cafes have been one of our strongest consumer touchpoints and have helped us tremendously in building our brands and educating customers about specialty coffee. The next phase will be to do in-store displays; we've developed different in-store communications to educate people about Cold Brew. And the last will be digital marketing because we will be selling the Cold Brew on our website and Amazon as well.

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