Caribou shrinks store concept and introduces sparkling energy drinks

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Five Caribou Cabins will open in Minnesota this fall, with more locations planned.
Five Caribou Cabins will open in Minnesota this fall, with more locations planned.

Related tags Coffee RTD coffee Caffeine

Caribou Coffee is switching up its consumer model this fall by testing small-format ‘Little Blue Cabin’ stores in its home state of Minnesota. The Cabins will feature Caribou’s new line of caffeinated, sparkling beverages.

Coffee shops and cafes tend to follow the same model that allows for patrons to sit at inside or outside tables, often with free Wifi that inspires a work-friendly environment. Caribou Coffee is now testing a smaller concept with drive-thru and walk-up windows.

The new freestanding locations will not offer any interior seating, and minimal outdoor seating. Caribou wants the Cabins to capture the brand's ‘Northwoods feel’ and deliver on guest convenience, speed, and efficiency.

Caribou said that the new stores are the vision of president and CEO John Butcher, who has focused on new product innovation, digital advancements and customer engagement since joining the company two years ago.

Though the Cabins will be smaller, Caribou said they will offer an expanded beverage menu alongside breakfast sandwiches and pastries. The first five Cabins will open this fall in Jordan, Burnsville, St. Peter, Big Lake, and Willmar, Minnesota.

Caribou told BeverageDaily that it plans to add locations over the next two years, considering both urban and suburban areas and other US states.

"Caribou Coffee will continue to lean into the Northern roots that made our brand what it is today. We are confident that our new Cabin concept will differentiate us even more by delivering customers the highest quality coffee, expanded beverage innovation and ownable guest interaction that only Caribou can deliver,"​ Butcher said.

caribou drinks 1

Bous-ting flavor on site and in retail

Featured at the Cabins will be Caribou’s new caffeinated, carbonated drinks launched in August. Sparkling Energy Water and Sparkling Energy Beverages will be available in both RTD cans and handcrafted varieties.

Caribou told BeverageDaily it had the right opportunity to launch into the energy drink category, leveraging the caffeine used in its signature coffee. It found that its customers want more sparkling flavored beverages, and Caribou’s current offerings have been growing.

The canned Energy Waters are available in Grapefruit and Mixed Berry and resemble more of a flavored seltzer. The Energy Beverages come in Dragon Fruit and Passion Fruit Orange Guava and are closer related to a soda.

On site at the new Cabins, customers can try the carbonated drinks in varieties beyond what is available in the cans. Caribou said the more unique ‘bou-sted’ flavors will include Spicy Pineapple and Blue Cotton Candy, with the option to customize and blend their beverages.

Matt Reiter, senior director of merchandising at Caribou, said “Caribou Bou-sted allows us to meet our guests’ ever-changing needs and bring to market a premium assortment of ready-to-drink caffeinated beverages that are both delicious and functional. They are perfect in the morning or as an afternoon boost with several flavor options we know our guests are going to love.”

The caffeine in the new line is derived from coffee beans, ginseng and guarana extract. Caribou said that it will continue as a premium coffee retailer, but it also wants to “evolve with ​[its] guests’ evolving needs”​ in the sparkling functional beverages category.

“Consumers really want their coffee for functional benefits, both where they want them and when they want them– Caribou Bou-Sted is delicious, functional and portable solution to meet our guests' needs,”​ Caribou said.

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