January 25, 2011

Can It

At the heart of SBC's new image is availability. That is, you can get Seattle's Best Coffee at Burger King, Subway, Steak and Shake, Borders (I should know about this one), and various other locals that might not typically be considered premium coffee venues.

Very soon, you'll be able to add grocery stores and gas stations to that list. Seattle's Best announced today that the company is entering the canned coffee market, currently less occupied than it might be, given American's love for caffeine and convenience.

The canned lattes are straightforward enough; one is just coffee, milk, and sugar; the other two add either chocolate or vanilla to the mix. All three are 12oz, and are projected to retail at $1.49 a piece. Keep in mind, a 12oz coffee from a cafe typically costs ~25 cents more than that. This, again, fits well with SBC's push to become as ubiquitous as the parent company, Starbucks.

That raises an interesting point however. Starbucks already has its bottled frappuccinos (not the same as the blended beverages sold in cafes, obviously), canned lattes, and canned "double shots". There are also canned coffee beverages from energy drink makers, Rockstar and Monster. And so, although the market isn't crowded, it isn't totally empty either. In theory, however, the SBC canned lattes are different in both size and price from Starbucks'; they are somewhere between the canned lattes and double shots. They are less expensive than the energy drink coffees also, and one might hope that SBC, coffee company that it is, can produce a better tasting coffee beverage than either Rockstar or Monster.

And that, of course, is the rub. Price and convenience matter; and it has to be said that the SBC canned lattes are entering at a very competitive price, and ought to be very easy to come by. They will be cheap, probably more so than their competition, and they will be just about everywhere cold, canned drinks are sold. But if they don't taste good, well, neither of things will help much.

About the taste, I can't say anything right now, other than that I eagerly anticipate trying them. And oh, I could also say that I'll be doing so sometime in the next few days. Samples are en route, thus I'll soon be able to give my impressions, for whatever they're worth.

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