When L.A.-based dessert shop B Sweet Coffee and Tea released its nitro cold brew coffee in ready-to-drink cans last year, it was getting in on the ground floor of an innovative brewing technique. Riding growing demand for cascading, nitrogen-infused flow alongside big names like Stumptown, Califia Farms and Starbucks, B Sweet is now preparing to expand its RTD line with nitro cold brew teas.
Last year the company launched a canned Nitro Cold Brew Matcha Green Tea to its portfolio, and will debut a Nitro Hibiscus Tea at Natural Products Expo West 2017 next week.
The teas are already sold in the company’s homebase of California at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Gelsons, Erewhon, and Mother’s Markets. Co-founder and CEO Kurt Steinitz told BevNET that B Sweet will soon expand distribution to several other states, including Illinois and Texas.
“We knew other people would be doing cold brew, so we wanted to start playing with new things,” Steinitz said, “We started playing with teas and other coffee blends and serve them on tap at our dessert shop in west L.A. We’re very lucky to have a test market, we see which ones people are asking to take to go more often.”
In addition to cans, B Sweet also sells kegs of its nitro coffees and teas, including its Thai Tea and Nitrous Coffee Latte; both are not yet available in cans. The company also sells nitro Chai and Butterfly Pea teas at its retail store and in select Whole Foods locations.
Although companies like Stumptown has undertaken significant outreach to help consumers understand nitro coffee, Steinitz said the personal approach of his store has been essential to B Sweet’s education strategy. As the brand expands its RTD offerings, Steinitz said the company plans to continue doing in-store demos to spread the word. Moreover, its cans do not contain the nitrogen-releasing widget technology commonly found in other nitro products, including Stumptown’s version, . Instead, B Sweet informs consumers to shake the cans before drinking in order to get the proper nitro taste and texture.
“I feel like ‘nitro’ is a very popular word right now, but companies aren’t necessarily explaining it right,” Steinitz said. “They’re not teaching people why there’s a cascade, why you get the creamy head, what the benefit of that is. It’s sort of like ‘nitrogen’ is a cool word and it’s going the way of ‘artisanal.’ As soon as Pizza Hut started using the word ‘artisanal’ it stopped having as much meaning.”
However, if monitoring social media is an effective signifier, Steinitz said nitro beverages are catching on with consumers. Instagram, he said, “is key.”
The 11 oz. cans currently retail for $4.69, although Steinitz said he hopes as the company grows beyond its small dessert shop origins and increases production, costs will come down. He’s aiming for a price point in the $3 range. To achieve it, he’ll follow the same step-by-step path the company has taken since launching.
“We do it all ourselves,” he said. “We’re a catering company, turned dessert shop, that got into this amazing beverage industry, and we’re still getting into it.”