Kitu Life Super Coffee Caps High Growth Year With Cold Brew, K-Cup Launches

For New York-based Kitu Life, the parent company of Super Coffee, 2019 was a pivotal growth year focused on retail and distribution expansion. Having made those gains, Super Coffee is turning to innovation in 2020, launching a bevy of new products to support its goal of quadrupling sales in the coming year.

On Monday, Super Coffee will introduce two new additions to its portfolio: Super Cold Brew and Triple Shot Espresso. Unlike the brand’s flagship Super Coffee line and its Super Espresso SKUs, the new products will not contain protein or MCT oil. Instead, both will be zero calorie and contain L-Theanine sourced from green tea.

Speaking with BevNET, Super Coffee founder Jordan DeCicco said the company hopes the new products will broaden use occasions for its existing consumer base, many of whom adhere to strict diets and may avoid calories in the morning.

“We’re seeing the [cold brew] category get a little stagnant,” DeCicco said. “It’s been such a hot category for so many brands and we kind of stayed out of it by focusing on healthy indulgence with our Super Coffee line. When we looked at other categories, cold brew was one where the shelf space is starting to get a little bit less competitive and we felt, with the shelf presence we have in the big box retailers like the Targets of the world, that we could make an impact with a cold brew on shelf quickly.”

Super Cold Brew — available in a single unsweetened flavor — contains 250 mg of caffeine and 100 mg of L-Theanine per 11 oz. can. The line will retail for $2.99-$3.49. Meanwhile, Triple Shot Espresso contains 150 mg each of caffeine and L-Theanine per 6 oz. can and will be sold in singles for $2.50 and 12-packs for $29.99.

According to DeCicco, Super Coffee has worked closely with its existing DSD partners to coordinate the launch, which will begin in the Northeast next week.

The company is also set to enter into the ground coffee space early next year. The launch of Super Coffee in Keurig K-Cup format, to be sold in packs of 10, will be aimed at big box retailers and the grocery channel. The coffee contains added vitamins and antioxidants, as well as L-Theanine, and features flavors including Dark Roast, Hazelnut, Mocha and Vanilla.

DeCicco said the company intends to use the K-Cups to grow its Super Creamer line and is working with retailers to merchandise the products together. The K-Cup packaging will feature callouts to Super Creamer, recommending consumers combine the products.

Super Coffee has also introduced seasonal flavors for its flagship line; the brand released Maple Pumpkin this fall and for winter has introduced White Chocolate Peppermint. Elsewhere, Gingerbread Eggnog will be the seasonal offering for Super Creamer. According to DeCicco, the limited-time flavors came after the company saw sales decline 40% in November and December 2018.

“So far this year, Maple Pumpkin has had absolutely exceptional performance in retailers like Target, Wegmans, Sprouts and Market Basket,” he said. “We call them our ‘Healthy Holiday SKUs’, as around the holidays people’s diets kind of disappear.”

The innovation wave comes as Super Coffee has grown sales six-fold, with revenue up from $5 million in 2018 to more than $30 million, according to DeCicco. The brand has also expanded from 17 full-time staff at the beginning of the year to more than 60 currently, with plans to surpass 100 employees in 2020. About 70% of the team is dedicated to sales, DeCicco said.

“Our focus is really on velocity and working with great partners region by region,” he said. “We have incredible regional sales managers and we work closely with them and our brokers. We want to go as deep as possible and focus on the top 20% of our accounts, which are driving 80% of the volume.”

In January, Super Coffee will expand its presence in Target to just under 1,500 stores and will rollout nationwide into Kroger and at select Walmart locations. The company has primarily focused distribution on the East Coast with some presence in the Midwest and Southwest, but will begin targeting Southern California at the beginning of 2020. DeCicco said that Super Coffee has also partnered with L.A. Distributing and John Lenore to grow in the greater Los Angeles market.

In New York, the brand’s sales through DSD distributor Big Geyser have surpassed 15,000 cases per month, with a strong focus on independent accounts.

As Super Coffee continues to innovate, DeCicco said the brand is even beginning to look beyond coffee, though it may be another year or two before it is ready to announce innovations in other categories.

“With the positive energy trend, coffee has been our focus,” he said. “But the food paradigm shift is happening in every category. People are cutting down sugar, so we’re constantly evaluating other categories that would compliment our brand and our purpose. We’ll have some exciting stuff as we continue to scale.”