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    Antiquating The Coffee Maker

    The beverage industry sees "big opportunity" in ready-to-drink coffees.

    The beverage industry is on a quest to make the coffee maker a relic, selling cans and bottles of coffee drinks aimed at convenience-obsessed Americans who want an indulgence and energy boost but don't want to actually dump grounds in a pot, add water and -- this is the worst part -- wait, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

    "It is about converting users from the coffee form they have today to a new form that is ready-to-drink," said Tracey Doucette, who runs North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between Pepsi and Starbucks that sells ready-to-drink coffee drinks. She was speaking at Beverage Digest's recent industry conference.

    About 80 percent of American households have coffee, but only 10 percent have ready-to-drink coffee, Doucette said. "There's a big opportunity there."

    Java drinker Nancy Wyatt, 59, said she regularly brews decaf at home. She hasn't tried the ready-to-drink varieties but would like to. "That would be good," Wyatt said as she added cream and sugar to her coffee at a Starbucks. "That would be less work."

    Of course, Starbucks started the process of antiquating the coffee maker by opening thousands of outlets and somehow persuading Americans to skip their boring brew-at-home Joe and plunk down several bucks for a fancy macchiato or latte, the report said.

    Pepsi and Starbucks teamed up in 1994 and started making canned and bottled coffees, including DoubleShot and Frappuccino, which are hugely successful, with more than $750 million in sales. They recently added canned iced coffee.

    Coca-Cola is getting to ready to launch its own line of latte and mocha drinks with Godiva. Coke also recently rolled out a coffee cola called Coca-Cola Blak.

    Plus, a line of Cinnabon coffee drinks, created by New York beverage company Brain-Twist, hit the market last year.

    Though the industry is bullish on ready-to-drink coffee, which is meant to be consumed cold, companies have learned the hard way that figuring out what Americans want can be tricky. There have been a handful of flops, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said.

    Pepsi had a coffee-cola drink called Pepsi Kona in the '90s that fizzled, and the first Pepsi-Starbucks product, a coffee drink called Mazagran, also was a bust.

    In January 2001, Coke bought a drink called Planet Java -- then discontinued it a couple of years later. Coke's situation is somewhat complicated because of a joint venture with Nestle, which basically requires that the companies only create and market new ready-to-drink coffee and tea products together. The Godiva drinks will be labeled as lattes and mochas, instead of coffee, to get around this issue, according to the newspaper.

    The consensus is that Americans don't want straight black coffee in a can. They want a treat, even if it means a big calorie count.

    "How many people say they are coffee drinkers but what they drink is a latte, which is 90 percent milk?" said Brain-Twist's Larry Trachtenbroit, the entrepreneur who sold Planet Java to Coke and also came up with the Cinnabon drinks, which have since been sold to Coca-Cola Consolidated, a bottler in Charlotte, N.C.

    Trachtenbroit said he wanted to create Cinnabon beverages because the brand already had a connotation of "refreshing, creamy and satisfying."

    Coke and Godiva also are going for indulgent, describing their soon-to-launch drinks as "a revitalizing experience more decadent than just plain coffee."

    Pepsi's Doucette said the key is "making coffee special, less ordinary and more experiential."

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