Chris Hopkins wants to take you on a tropical vacation. His mode of transport? Coffee.
A longtime beverage sales executive, Hopkins recently launched Blue Island Coffee, a brand designed to carry consumers “away from their daily routine through coffee innovation.” The concept of Blue Island sprung from Hopkins’ belief that the coffee category was ripe for disruption in the form of an escapist-themed brand.
“There’s a whole arena of people [that] drink coffee for an escape, take a break, kind of rejuvenate the mind throughout the day,” he told BevNET. “And I saw a white space in that arena, where there’s not really a lifestyle brand that aligns with a sense of escapism.”
Based in Dallas, Blue Island currently markets two product lines: nitro cold brew coffee and cold brew coffee and kombucha; the company will launch bagged ground coffee in May. With packaging immersed in island-themed imagery and swaths of Caribbean blue, the drinks are designed to evoke a breezy and beachy feel among consumers.
Hopkins, who previously worked for Marley Beverage Co. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, believes the brand and products will resonate particularly well with female millennials and that the company is “hyper-focused” on the demographic.
“Cold brew coffee doesn’t target females,” he said. “The imagery, the packaging, the branding, the lifestyle — I just don’t see that out there. There’s lots of great coffees, but nobody has that affinity, that alignment to meet those millennial needs.”
Blue Island’s cold brew and kombucha drinks are formulated using a proprietary blending process and contain equal parts of 100 percent Arabica coffee and kombucha. The line comes in four USDA organic and raw varieties — Madagascar Vanilla, Hazelnut, Chai, and Maca Espresso — that are packaged in 10 oz. glass bottles. The company markets the products as providing “benefits of natural probiotics and high antioxidants together in one beverage.”
The company’s nitro cold brew coffee is also USDA organic and undergoes high pressure processing. The drinks, which come in Madagascar Vanilla, Caramel Espresso, Coconut Mocha, and Island Bushwacker varieties, are slightly sweetened with coconut sugar. Packaged in 12 oz. plastic bottles, Hopkins believes the products will appeal to consumers who are “in between a pure cold brew enthusiast and people that like [coffee] super-sweet.”
“The Stumptown drinker is not going to drink this,” he said. “But somebody who doesn’t want the sugar and calories from a Frappuccino [will].”
The beverages are sold at 140 H-E-B locations in the conventional grocer’s Healthy Living section and retail for $3.99-4.99. Central Market will carry the products beginning next month. Blue Island primarily self-distributes and works with one DSD partner, FreshPoint Dallas.
Blue Island co-packs at Ft. Worth-based Holy Kombucha, whose founder and president, Leo Bienati, is on Blue Island’s board of directors. Bienati is joined on the board by Koa founder Adam Louras. Hopkins declined to name other directors.
Hopkins has self-funded the launch of Blue Island, however, he’s looking to raise $1 million for the company’s first funding round and hoping to close by the end of the year. Meanwhile, he’s focused on partnering with more retailers and building brand awareness among consumers seeking an everyday break.
“I want everyone to be able to have that feeling of an escape to the islands through a product from Blue Island,” he said.