Eight O'Clock Coffee has expanded its line of infused Arabica coffees with three new products designed to appeal to younger and more adventurous java fans, according to a news release.
Joining its already established Relax Decaf and Alert Hi-Caffeine coffee blends is an offering blended with acai berries, another with turmeric and cinnamon, and a third featuring a fruit and herbal concoction rich in vitamin B6.
Established in 1859 as the house blend for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Eight O'Clock Coffee is now a subsidiary of India-based Tata Global Beverages, which also owns Tetley tea in the U.K. and Good Earth Tea in the U.S.
Eight O'Clock Coffee is far from the first coffee brand to offer infused and functional blends. There have long been various flavor-infused coffees in the marketplace, and now there are wine-infused and THC-infused coffees for that extra buzz. VitaCup produces a line of vitamin-infused coffees sold in pods for one-time use with specialized machines.
Tata Global Beverages has applied several marketing tools to reinvigorate its Eight O'Clock Coffee brand since acquiring it from Gryphon Investors in 2006. The former A&P grocery chain in-store coffee brand was sold to the private equity firm in 2003.
Tata pulled out all the stops last year with a marketing campaign promoting whole bean coffee to consumers, and in 2012 joined with Green Mountain to launch Eight O'Clock K-cups for Keurig coffee machines. That move is credited with helping Eight O'Clock Coffee take a 7% share of the single-serve market within two years.
The popularity of packaged coffee has been growing recently, primarily due to double-digit growth in the single-serve format. Ready-to-drink varieties are also becoming a popular choice and pose a challenge to the Eight O' Clock brand as consumers increasingly prize convenience. It's unclear if the health and flavor benefits of turmeric and cinnamon, or the trendy flavor of acai will win millennials over to taking the time to brew coffee.
Tata clearly plans to continue efforts to better position Eight O'Clock Coffee within the very competitive packaged coffee marketplace, and these infused products are one more example. Whether they will resonate with younger coffee drinkers — who are typically more receptive to trendy formulations and packaging — is something Tata along with other companies will closely follow in the months ahead.