Review: Riff Alter Ego
Covers Products: Alter Ego - Sparkling Blackberry , Alter Ego - Sparkling Guava Passionfruit, Alter Ego - Sparkling Original
Alter Ego, which is the counterpart to Oregon-based Riff Cold Brewed’s eponymous line of cold brew coffee drinks, is a line of sparkling cascara (aka coffee fruit) beverages that are positioned as natural energy drinks. The product contains 100 mg of caffeine per 12 oz. can and comes in three flavors: Original, Blackberry and Guava Passionfruit.
Nutritionally, Alter Ego contains between 35 and 45 calories and 10-12 grams of sugar (from added juice and cane sugar) in each can.
When it comes to taste, all three of these products have a pleasant and mild flavor profile. This starts with Original, which is flavored with only coffee fruit, lemon juice and sugar. It’s clean and crisp, with the slightly tangy and slightly earthy flavor of the coffee fruit and a nice note of lemon to the finish. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and the flavors are nicely balanced.
As for the other two offerings, Blackberry and Guava Passionfruit, both are flavored with juices and purees rather than flavorings. The end result is accurate and natural tasting flavors with the namesake fruits being easy to distinguish from the mix. We’ll admit that we were wondering why they chose the flavors that they did (rather than more basic ones), but they pair quite well with the base coffee fruit flavor.
However, we do feel that the lineup might benefit from some more mainstream and familiar flavors. We believe that this would help consumers take the leap into Alter Ego by giving them a better sense of the flavor profile. This could come in the form of additional flavors -- or perhaps even just recasting Original as Lemon.
On the outside, Riff Alter Ego uses a shrink sleeve label with a glossy finish. The design is centered around the Riff logo, which has “Let’s” to the left of it. The top of the can has a yellow band calling out “Natural Energy,” which is the clearest description of what the product is.
Jumping back to the middle, you’ll find the “Alter Ego” logo, which is a slightly stylized block font. Below that is the statement “cold brewed from the fruit of the coffee plant” followed by the flavor name. Proceeding to the bottom, you’ll find some callouts for the calories, sugar, and the “Riff Lift” caffeine index (a rating of 2 for all three flavors).
While we definitely like Riff’s brand aesthetic, we wonder what the “Alter Ego” sub brand is adding to this product. It seems like this, along with some of the label copy, could be simplified to create a cleaner look with a tighter message. On that same theme, we think that “Natural Energy” should end up with the flavor name and that they should consider using the word cascara since that’s a concept with growing awareness.
Last, but not least, we’d suggest replacing the caffeine index with a straightforward callout for 100 mg -- or removing it entirely. The caffeine index doesn’t mean a lot when it’s the same across all the flavors.
In the end, we really like what Riff’s Alter Ego brings to the table for both the brand and the overall energy set. With some updates to the label and an expansion of the flavor line, it seems like it has a lot of potential.