With a strong presence on the East Coast, Florida, as well as Northern and Southern California, the brand is targeting the Pacific Northwest region next. CEO and co-founder Grant Gyesky has relocated to Bend, Oregon, from New York to focus on driving the brand's presence in the region.
"We’ve developed a pretty large geographic footprint for the age of the brand. We felt that if we're going to be innovators of coffee why not go to the 'home of coffee' (the Pacific Northwest) and innovate there," Gyesky told FoodNavigator-USA.
"We have tremendous success in the specialty channel and in the independent stores and in some grocery, but I’d like to begin to see some of the everyday consumers buying at convenience stores and gas stations be exposed to the cold brew trend and begin replacing some of the other energy drinks."
From offices to homes
Started by friends in 2014 who loved making their own cold brew coffee, RISE Brewing Co. produced its cold brew in kegs and brought them to local New York City restaurants looking for feedback. From there, the company entered over 200 offices with its cold brew coffee kegs.
"That was kind of the inception point for what would jumpstart the business," Gyesky said. The brand launched a can version of its nitro cold brew in the fall of 2016.
Standing out in a crowded market
Consumers are starting to see more cold brew products populate store shelves. In 2017, more than half (56%) of new ready-to-drink coffee launches in the US were cold brew products, up from 38% the year prior, according to Mintel. Between 2016 and 2017, US cold brew sales registered 137% in year-over-year sales, reaching an estimated $38m in 2017.
To stand out in an increasingly crowded market, RISE Brewing Co. set out to own specific areas of the category, according to Gyesky.
The first point of differentiation is its shelf stable nitro widget can, which has helped the growing cold brew company partner effectively with buyers and distributors on a larger scale than with a cold brew product that needs to be refrigerated, according to Gyesky.
"We have the only shelf stable nitro widget can in the country," claimed Gyesky. "When these buyers and distributors are out looking to fill a space in the category, for the most part they’ve [nitro cold brew products] all been refrigerated, cold chain distribution. While that works in small geographic territories, to really be able to get to a larger scale, it doesn’t translate."
The company also made a decision to reduce the size of its cans from a 12-ounce can to a slim 7-fluid-ounce can in order to a hit a lower $2.99 price point.
The other piece to category differentiation has been through product innovation and targeting the athletic wellness community who have been using caffeine from coffee beans as workout fuel and clean energy source, according to Gyesky.
RISE Brewing Co. is stocked in professional sports locker rooms including the New York Yankees, Mets, and Giants, as well as MMA (mixed martial arts) facilities. The company recently sponsored the USA Surf Team.
"We didn’t’ see coffee as a workout beverage before," he said.
According to Gyesky, RISE Brewing Co. will continue to innovate launching unexpected products into the cold brew category.
The company introduced a nitrogen-infused lemonade cold brew coffee made from organic coffee beans, organic cane sugar, and lemon juice. At the Natural Product Expo East show in September 2018, RISE Brewing Co. launched its nitro cold brew oat milk latte lines that has quickly become one of the company's top-selling SKUs, Gyesky noted.
"[At the Winter Fancy Food Show] We went through five times as many cans of oat milk latte," he said. "I think that oat milk is going to have a good year across the entire industry."
RISE Brewing Co. has set up small coffee shop store fronts for its customers in New York City and will be opening another brick and mortar location as part of its Pacific Northwest expansion.
"They’re not necessarily huge sales drivers or huge profitability drivers, but we find it crucial to have that interaction with the community," Gyesky said.
To learn more about how the company has leveraged its storefront, pop-up business strategy to improve the brand, watch this VIDEO HERE.