LIVE

Are Americans finally interested in a cola-coffee hybrid? Coca-Cola is ready to find out.

By Mike Pomranz
January 25, 2021
Advertisement

Do you love Coca-Cola?  Do you love coffee? If so, good news: Coca-Cola with Coffee and its Zero Sugar counterpart have just been launched nationwide! Are you old? Do you have a good memory? If so, you may also feel like you're having déjà vu.

Originally launched in Japan in 2018, Coca-Cola with Coffee is finally arriving in the United States, remarkably making us the 50th market to get the combo (though as Coca-Cola explains, different countries get different versions to "meet local tastes"). The new U.S. version is billed as a beverage that "sips like a Coke and finishes like a coffee"—and just like a trip to Starbucks, Coca-Cola with Coffee is offered in multiple varieties.

Coca-Cola with Coffee Cans
Credit: Courtesy of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola with Coffee Dark Blend (which is basically the "plain" option) can also be purchased in a Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar version. A Vanilla variety is available as both regular and Zero Sugar. And then, finally, you can also find a Caramel version—but only with sugar. All five varieties are made with Brazilian coffee and contain 69 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce can. That's double the caffeine of a regular Coca-Cola, but still about half of the caffeine in a 12-ounce cup of coffee (depending on the brew).

"Coca-Cola with Coffee is a true hybrid innovation that provides the perfect solution for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up we all want, especially in today's work-from-home environment," Brandan Strickland, brand director for Coca-Cola Trademark, explained, adding that more than half of people who drink both beverages do it on a regular basis. "Now, you don't need to leave Coca-Cola to get your coffee fix."

But one major question is yet to be answered: Do people actually want a mix of cola and coffee? The concept is far from new and struggled to catch on in the U.S. In 1996, Pepsi Kona was trialed unsuccessfully, with even Pepsi calling the short-lived coffee-cola hybrid "ahead of its time." Americans weren't ready in 2006 either when Coca-Cola Blak was released and disappeared within a couple of years. Even last year, Pepsi took another stab at mixing cola with coffee: Pepsi Café. Yes, Pepsi billed the release as a limited run, but the brand has given no indication that it's coming back.

However, this time around, Coca-Cola does suggest it has one additional trick up its sleeve. "While other categories including energy drinks have ventured into zero-sugar territory, ready-to-drink coffee hasn't because many offerings are dairy-based," Strickland continued. "So we see this as a major whitespace opportunity." The brand also touted that 80 percent of people who tried Coca-Cola with Coffee said they would buy it.

Still, if you find the idea of another cola and coffee combo a bit tired, Coca-Cola is sprucing up the concept with a very modern promo: drone deliveries. As a part of the product release, Coke is teaming up with Walmart and drone company DroneUp to bring select customers in Coffee County, Georgia, Coca-Cola with Coffee by drone.

Or here's a different bit of tech that the vast majority of Americans will find more applicable: Coca-Cola also says you can receive a free can of Coca-Cola with Coffee using the Ibotta app at Walmart stores nationwide.