Two Local Brands Found a Launchpad in Whole Foods
King’s Row Coffee and Drink Simple teamed up to bring an innovative product to North Atlantic Whole Foods Market stores. The local beverage brands combined King’s Row Arabica coffee beans and Drink Simple’s organic maple water to launch a first-of-its-kind King's Brew maple water nitro cold brew.
King’s Row already had maple water on the dream board of potential new flavor options when chief executive officer Sam Sabky connected with Drink Simple founder Kate Weiler at a trade show, Sabky told the Path to Purchase Institute. “We brought Drink Simple the idea and some preliminary formulas and it just seemed that it would be a hit for a number of reasons,” Sabky said.
What sets the beverage apart is steeping the coffee beans directly in the maple water as opposed to adding it after the fact. The maple water infuses the brew with a subtle sweetness, while the nitrogen adds the illusion of a latte without any dairy or calories.
“One of the divides in the cold brew space is you have your purists and your latte/cappuccino drinkers and there is a dearth of variety in the middle,” Sabky said. “The beauty of the maple water SKU is it casts a wider net, it’s not just for the cold-brew aficionados … so we thought it was the perfect product to introduce because it checks all the boxes. We have much more control over the finished profile by cold brewing in the maple water, and then we just get this balance.”
Packaged in a 12-ounce can, the brew rolled out across New England Whole Foods stores last month. Throughout the summer, a road show of nine weekend-long pop-up sampling events staged with the help of Whole Foods' regional marketing team are supporting the launch. The brands’ own channels and social media activity also support.
“The most basic part of the collaboration is local,” Sabky said. “Both of our goals are to succeed in New England first … and grow cautiously from there. The last thing we would want is for someone to pay good money for a subpar product.”
Maintaining the integrity of the cold chain is important to delivering a peak flavor for customers, so King’s Row is cautious when it comes to branching out to new retail avenues. For that reason, the company's products aren’t available on Amazon. King’s Row does sell directly to customers online, but in the summer months that requires costly one-day shipping.
King's Row had first partnered with Whole Foods the year prior to sell its original King's Brew black nitro cold brew. “They gave us a chance with one SKU and it’s done really well in New England,” Sabky said.
Crediting the retailer’s collaborative environment as well as support for innovative and local products, Sabky described how he sold the newest flavor in to the retailer by simply bringing in a mason jar of maple water. “They liked it and said to come back, even had input on packaging … so it felt like more of a collaboration with Whole Foods,” Sabky said. “It was a first-to-market product, it was an innovation, so they were really helpful along the way.”
"King's Row Coffee and Drink Simple have both been incredible supplier partners to Whole Foods Market," said Dylan Campbell, Whole Foods’ local products & regional promotions senior marketing specialist, in a media release announcing the launch. "When we learned the two brands were collaborating on an innovative new product, we were thrilled! The hybrid of maple water and nitrogen-infused cold brew is subtly sweet, creamy and totally refreshing — we're excited to carry this local product in Whole Foods Market stores this summer."