Having helped to build the category at retail, Stumptown Coffee Roasters is deepening its commitment to cold brew with the launch of a new line, made with oat milk from Swedish brand Oatly, next month.
The Portland, Oregon-based roaster and retailer will launch cold brew with Oatly oat milk at the brand’s cafes and on its website on November 27. While many recent oat milk cold brews are packaged in cans, Stumptown is introducing its line in a 100% recyclable 11 oz. Tetra-Pak Prisma cartons with a shelf life of six months. The products, available in original, chocolate and horchata varieties, mark Stumptown’s first step into the shelf-stable segment.
The RTD cold brew landscape looks different from when Stumptown emerged as one of the pioneering brands in the space back in 2011. The brand has since expanded its offerings beyond its signature cold brew in stubby glass bottles, introducing a nitrogen-infused variety and several SKUs with cream and sugar added. Yet over the past 12 months, innovation across the category has been driven mainly by the rise of oat milk; after New York’s Rise Brewing Co. introduced a line of shelf-stable oat milk cold brew lattes in June 2018, major players including La Colombe, Chameleon Cold-Brew, Califia Farms, Bluestone Lane and StoK all followed suit.
Amidst the growing competition, Stumptown is aiming to stand out through its prominent association with Oatly, one of the primary drivers responsible for building the oat milk trend. That’s in large part to its adoption by baristas at high end cafes — including Stumptown. Such was the importance placed on working with the Swedish brand, according to Jeff Stoeckel, Stumptown’s general manager for CPG and product, that the brand waited until Oatly had resolved its supply chain issues to launch the product, rather than producing their own oat milk.
“Rather than starting with the idea that we would like to make an oat milk coffee product,” he said. “We really started with the idea of how can we partner with Oatly?”
In splashing “Made with Oatly” prominently across the package and positioning the product in on-premise environments where consumers are already familiar with the brand, Stumptown is betting that the combination of two brands will have strong resonance. In terms of flavor, Stoeckel said Stumptown’s oat milk cold brew will be “more coffee-forward” than its competitors, describing it as a 50/50 combination of Stumptown’s original cold brew coffee concentrate base and oat milk. Original contains 140 calories, while Chocolate has 150 calories; each contains 9 grams of added cane sugar. Meanwhile, Horchata has 170 calories and 14 grams of sugar. Each will carry a suggested retail price of $3.99.
Though Stumptown’s oat milk cold brew is shelf-stable, Stoeckel said it will will be merchandised with refrigerated cold brew and will be distributed through the company’s network of third-party cold chain distributors, as the ability to combine shipments with its existing cold chain items allows for freight capacity to be used more efficiently. This arrangement is likely to continue when the product eventually transitions to retailers in early 2020, potentially via KDP’s network.
“There will be times when it makes sense to ship ambient, but often it’s more efficient for us to ship refrigerated given our overall product line logistics,” Stoeckel said.
As the brand branches out further into RTD, Stumptown’s role within the increasingly complex galaxy of JAB Holdings-owned coffee brands is also changing. Along with fellow third-wave coffee purveyor Intelligentsia, Stumptown is owned by Peet’s Coffee, which itself is owned by JAB and which moves its shelf-stable RTD products through the distribution network of Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP), another company in JAB’s portfolio. The Portland-based roaster and retailer was also part of Peet’s now-defunct Coldcraft system, which provided cold chain distribution throughout California.
Stumptown’s oat milk cold brew is the brand’s showcase RTD product launch for this winter, but in June it quietly launched a cold brew concentrate in 25.4 oz. glass bottles. Stoeckel said the company had been hesitant to enter that market due to associated costs. “We thought the price threshold was too low for anyone to be interested in the product,” he said. Now that the segment has matured, Stumptown has stepped into multi-serve primarily at specialty and natural retailers on the West Coast, where the concentrate is positioned as a super-premium offering priced at $11.99.
“The goal at Stumptown is to bring really high quality, specialty grade coffee and ingredients to a lot of people across the country,” Stoeckel said. “We try to focus super hard on quality ingredients and make sure that people across the country can easily understand and enjoy that thing, even if behind the scenes it’s very complicated.”