Meet the entrepreneurs: Caliente

‘Our product is quite polarizing – and therefore engages people more’: Chili-infused drink Caliente

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Drink Coffee Alcoholic beverage

The kick of chili may not be for everyone: but chili-infused beverages can offer a real alternative to boring or unhealthy soft drinks, says Swedish start-up Caliente. 

Caliente is an organic, premium non-alcoholic drink, infused with chili. It comes in two flavors: cranberry, pomegranate and chili; and ginger, lime and chili.  

Further flavors are part of the brand’s plans for the future, as well as expansion into new markets in Europe and the Middle East.

Love it or hate it

Thomas Adner, founder and CEO, told BeverageDaily the drink can polarize opinion – some people really don’t like it, but others love the chili kick.

He believes the beverage can tap into growing demand for sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks for adults.  

Capsaicin, which gives chili its heat, can activate the reward center in the brain that releases endorphins and feelings of happiness, says Adner – creating an alternative way of getting a ‘kick’ out of a drink.

It was the prominence of spices in other categories that also gave Adner the idea of pursuing a chili infused drink.

“I was living in the Middle East at the time, I saw the need for better, non-alcoholic drinks, and also I was inspired by all these different spices you come across”, ​he said.

“Spices and chillies are being used in a lot of different categories and I thought why not in beverages? When you start experimenting you see it really fits well, it’s a good combination.”

Crowdfunding success

Caliente launched in Sweden in March 2015. It recently ran a crowdfunding campaign, raising its goal in just three days, a result Adner finds ‘humbling’. By the time the campaign closed on Sunday (1 May), it had raised €523,000 ($602,235), 140% of its target, thanks to 142 investors.

The campaign has helped the brand secure financing to help fuel growth both at home and abroad. But it has also given the brand another group of ambassadors from over 20 countries who can help spread the word.

Your fans and early adopters are your best advertising,”​ said Adner. “We launched Caliente with virtually no marketing funds and have had to depend on word of mouth to a large extent. Luckily our product is quite polarizing and therefore engages people more.”

As Caliente expands its main focus will be urban centers in Northern Europe and the Middle East. It will also expand its portfolio with new flavors, which are being kept under wraps at the moment.

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