Friday, November 17, 2006

Coca-Cola ventures into premium specialty coffee

17 November 2006 1853 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: Coca-Cola is serving up freshly brewed gourmet coffee and tea in Singapore.

The 120-year-old beverage company best known for its range of soft-drinks has launched its premium brewed beverage business here under the Far Coast brand.

The move is part of plans to diversify its business.

Coca-Cola says it wants to tap into its traditional distribution network to grow its new coffee and tea operations.

Unlike other brewed coffee and tea outlets, no specially trained barista is needed to brew each cup of Far Coast coffee and tea.

In its place is a patented dispensing machine that can brew a cup of hot beverage in 40 seconds.

According to Coca-Cola, the trick lies in its proprietary technology in packing grounded coffee into containers called pods.

These can keep the coffee seeds fresh for up to 6 months, compared to 3 days when stored by conventional means.

Louis Heinsz, Director of Premium Brewed Beverages Research & Development, The Coca-Cola Company, says: "What we've managed to design is a technology that speeds the service for our quick service restaurant customers - that's one of the key ambitions in this overall programme. The turret permits the pods to swing into position and the dispenser operator to continue doing other things while actually brewing the product. There's a big technology breakthrough in that."

Coca-Cola says with gourmet coffee outselling soft drinks by 2 to 1 globally, and the business worth some US$22m a year in Singapore, it is only logical for it to look into this sector of the beverage market.

Udaiyan Jatar, Vice President of Premium Brewed Beverages, The Coca-Cola Company, says: "We're not getting into the retail business. Our business model is really simple - it is to help our restaurant customers deliver products like specialty coffees - cappuccinos, lattes, chai lattes - to their consumers who are seeking these products but cannot get them inside the restaurants that they visit."

Together with its first concept store set up in Toronto, Canada two months ago and one to be opened in Oslo, Norway early next year, Coca-Cola says its Singapore outlet along Orchard Road will allow the soft-drinks giant to gather consumer feedback and fine-tune its business model.

Coca Cola also plans to launch Far Coast to consumers all across the world, a country or a city at a time.

Far Coast says there will only be one concept store in Singapore which will serve as a training centre and product research and development. - CNA/so

This story originally appeared in 17 November 2006