Ali Ataei, CEO and co-founder of INO believes the London-based brand will revolutionise the hot beverage sector and radically alter coffee consumption patterns in the UK.
Containing 9.5 calories per serving (a 2.5g single-stick pack), INO fruit coffee is sugar- and fat-free and apple, pineapple and strawberry varieties are available.
New category created
Ataei told BeverageDaily.com: “When I started developing this product I asked myself, ‘why do we have fruit teas and no fruit coffees?’ In 2007/8 I searched the internet and couldn’t find any.
“This is due to, firstly, the production process, where artificial flavors are sprayed onto tea leaves – giving you, say, a peach and strawberry tea.
“Secondly, as the aroma and taste of coffee so strong, it doesn’t somehow sit well in people’s minds when you add fruit to it. But people who have tasted our product are usually nicely surprised, 48% of them have expressed an intent to purchase afterwards.
“Not everyone likes it – say, coffee conoisseurs expecting a strong coffee aroma and taste – but as a new category resting on its own merits, people appreciate the coffee and fruit taste mixed.”
Trademarked production process
Spraying artificial flavours onto coffee granules had been tried before, Ataei said, but this didn’t work with coffee, whereas it did with tea, which didn’t have such a strong overriding flavour or aroma.
“With coffee you have to increase the dosage, but this leaves an artificial aftertaste – amaretto, vanilla, hazelnut – but our process is different,” he explained.
“We take organic fruit and fuse that with coffee beans, so the finished powder contains actual fruit. We don’t actually say ‘flavour’, because our beverage uses real fruit – it doesn’t simply use the aroma of fruit – and you taste the fruit with the coffee simultaneously. That’s why it’s new.”
A bitter aftertaste associated with regular coffee has also been removed, meaning that INO can be drunk without milk or sugar, Ataei said, to the benefit of lactose intolerant or diabetic consumers.
“Drinking five cups a day of the same old instant can be torture. With teas you have a choice of flavours, but at home or in the office if you haven’t spent ₤200 [€250] on a Nespresso machine you are stuck with instant coffee that has been the same for the last 30 years,” Ataei said.
Instant coffee lacks romance
He added: “We’ve had a huge revolution in coffee shops, with Starbucks etc., and amazing choices there. But on the home front nothing has really changed. Nescafe’s 1980s advert with a romance between neighbours was the last exciting thing that happened in instant coffee.”
Following a soft launch at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre in mid-May, the product is already available via INO’s online store (3x 2.5g sticks cost 99p, 9x cost €2.99) and Ataei said launches into retail stores and supermarkets were planned in October 2012, with talks with buyers planned.
Asked why INO chose the single-serve format for the brand, Ataei said: “Look at the overall trend in coffee – everything is moving to single-serve. Look at Starbucks Via, Nestle's Nespresso capsules.
“Single-serves mean the product suits impulse buys in coffee shops, and also means you can offer retail customers variety, as people won’t buy five jars of different varieties,” he added.