It’s not the first coconut water brand to launch a coffee-flavored line extension, but Harmless Harvest co-founders Douglas Riboud and Justin Guilbert are loathe to compare their product to other versions on the market. And to hear of the year-long development and the intricacies of its formulation, one might just understand their reluctance.
Promoted as a “hydrating pick me up,” Harmless Harvest’s recently launched its 100% Raw Coconut Water with Fair Trade Coffee nationally at Whole Foods. It’s the company’s third flavored product for the organic and high pressure processed line of drinks, which also includes a Cinnamon & Clove variety and a cacao-infused product that was released last year and, for now, remains a seasonal offering.
Creating the coffee-blended coconut water was a longtime project for Harmless Harvest, and while the company didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, they did travel a few thousand miles to find the right spokes.
Stressing the importance of high quality taste and a formulation that includes fair trade ingredients, Riboud, Guilbert and the company’s product development team identified several grower cooperatives in Northwest Peru from which Harmless Harvest now sources coffee beans. As with Harmless Harvest coconut water products, the beans are fair trade certified by Fair for Life. They are brought to the U.S., roasted and brewed into extract form, and while Riboud declined to say where the process takes place, he noted that Harmless Harvest oversees the entire production of the new product.
“What we tried to do with the coffee is something completely different,” Riboud said. “The first thing that’s important about Harmless Harvest, and therefore all of the products that we put out, is taste, period. We’re not adding a little bit of flavoring to our coconut water; we went out and started sourcing coffee.”
After months of trial and error and several rounds of experimental batch testing, the final product is one that contains 98 percent coconut water and the remainder infusion of coffee extract. The company is careful to note that while the coconut water in the variety is described as “raw,” it does not describe the coffee extract as such.
The product contains approximately 50 mg of caffeine per 16 oz., a level that Guilbert views as relatively low as compared to that in other beverages and gives the new product consumption potential for a variety of day parts.
That said, Guilbert pointed to a growing number of consumers infusing coconut water into their morning coffee as a way to replenish some of the perceived dehydrating effects of the beverage. Guilbert said that the do-it-yourself blends had a substantial impact on Harmless Harvest’s decision to create a coffee-flavored product.
“There is a kind of grassroots recipe trend which is basically make-your-own coffee drink,” he said. “That’s kind of what motivated us, [the idea that] coconut water can be part of that breakfast or that morning routine that a large, substantial part of the population has.”
As might be expected, Guilbert said that the company “won’t cater to the energy drink consumer.” (Notably, he said Harmless Harvest does not cater to the “raw community” either). Instead, the product will be positioned as a new type of beverage that offers consumers a unique balance of hydration, nutrition and a caffeinated boost.
Whole Foods will have a three-month exclusive on the new variety, which comes in 8 oz. and 16 oz. sizes, with the black-and-white labeled bottles priced at $2.79 and $5.29 respectively.