Twenty-five years ago this summer, Starbucks rolled out the bottled Frappuccino to retail locations and grocery stores across North America. The distribution stretched far and wide, and suddenly Americans had a bottled beverage option at the gas station that fell somewhere between Surge and Yoohoo. We’ve come a long way since then, but according to a 2020 IRI Household Panel, while Ready To Drink (RTD) coffee products are booming, 72% of households have yet to touch the stuff. Starbucks has set out to target these laggards with a new line of products after a large body of market research.
Called Starbucks Cold & Crafted, the RTD bevvies are cold brew-based with a splash of milk and a touch of sweetness. The product rolls out initially with three flavors: Coffee with a Splash of Milk & Vanilla, Coffee with a Splash of Milk & Mocha, and Coffee Sweetened Black (the only milkless option).
The latest product came after what Starbucks claims to be its “biggest body of research yet.” What that body of research actually entails isn’t quite clear, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that it more than “what are the specialty coffee roasters doing nowadays?”
Starbucks market research findings “were clear” that “consumers are seeking a smooth coffee taste with a small amount of milk and flavor, no preservatives, lower sugar and calories, and at an accessible price point.”
The beverages all clock in under 100 calories and took “months of tastings and consumer tests” to choose “the best roast profiles and brewing method,” per Manpreet Cheema, a senior product developer for Starbucks’ R&D team.
Starbucks Cold & Crafted retails for $3 per 11oz bottle and is available at grocers, retail locations, and convenience stores.
For the time being, I’ll take a Coke with Coffee.