Review: High Brew Coffee’s Self Heating Coffee
Covers Products: Dairy Free Black & Bold - Self-Heating
High Brew Coffee’s latest innovation comes in the form of something that’s a bit different: a self heating can that delivers a hot serving of cold-brewed coffee. The product is available in a single SKU (dairy-free Black & Bold) in a 10.3 ounce can.
So let’s talk about the package first. Popular in Japan, self-heating cans have been around for a long time, although they haven’t exactly had a ton of success to date in the U.S. market. And for those of you who have been around the beverage industry for a while, you might remember past attempts from Nescafe or Wolfgang Puck.
Fortunately, what High Brew has put together feels like a big step forward from these prior efforts (we’d say the same for some of the other recent entrants from other companies, too). Plus, the timing of this product is much better than the launches of a decade ago which came before RTD coffee enjoyed a resurgence thanks to the popularity of cold brew.
High Brew’s can, which is manufactured by HeatGen, has a “heater” that utilizes a solid-state chemical reaction to warm the liquid. To activate, the consumer simply has to twist the bottom of the can (a very noticeable black ring). You’ll hear a sound to confirm that it’s working and then it’s simply waiting for two minutes and shaking three times to make sure the heat is evenly distributed. A plastic ring on the top of the can simulates the lid you’d find on a typical coffee cup.
In our test, the coffee reached a peak temperature of 120 degrees fahrenheit. This isn’t exactly piping hot, but it’s warm enough. Fortunately, the taste of the coffee, which is cold-brewed from 100% Direct Trade Colombian beans, is quite good and packs a punch at 200mg of caffeine.
From a design standpoint, this product follows the same general format as High Brew’s other canned coffees. It has a grey background and a large High Brew Coffee logo sitting toward the upper end of the label. The words “SELF-HEATING” have been placed inside the High Brew logo in red text. Below the logo is a good amount of copy, including callouts for “dairy-free”, “Black & Bold,” “15 calories,” the caffeine content, and Direct Trade certification. The bottom segment is reserved for copy that explains how the self-heating can works.
They’ve definitely succeeded at creating something that fits with the aesthetic of the High Brew Coffee lineup, but is also clearly different. When picking up this can, it’s impossible to miss the extra weight at the bottom, which is an interesting indicator of this SKU being unique.
We think that there’s probably some room for refinement in terms of how they present and promote the self-heating component, but that will likely only be possible as other self-heating offerings come to market and consumers become familiar with this type of product.
Overall, we appreciate that High Brew Coffee is innovating beyond flavor extensions and into something that feels quite innovative. It’s hard to say what the market opportunity is for this product, but we think that they’ve done a solid job in its execution.