The FMCG industry has a lot of expertise on the creation of trends to boost business. Clever marketing can turn a simple everyday product into something exclusive and very special. When it comes to food, coffee undoubtedly ranks very highly on the list of desirable items. If a person is prepared to spend EUR 4.50 for a cup of coffee with milk, they don’t just want to buy coffee, but a lifestyle product presented in attractively designed packaging. Cold Dip and Cold Brew – cold coffee with lemon and tonic water – are now followed by Nitro Coffee as the latest American arrival in Europe. It’s cold coffee with nitrogen added to it. This might sound odd at first, but the result is actually a beautifully sweet and pleasant creaminess. Instead of coming from a coffee machine, Nitro Coffee is a draught drink, on tap – a bit like Guinness with a frothy head.
So all that’s needed now is some suitable packaging that will appeal to the consumer. Well, it’s available already, and it’s the result of a joint venture between two companies, Döhler and Ardagh. Döhler GmbH has all the necessary expertise in cold-brewed coffee and Nitro Coffee, while the Ardagh Group handles the packaging. The result is the Nitro can. It has a nitrogen-filled in-can capsule which creates a particularly thick, frothy head of cream on the ready-to-drink coffee.
Nitro Coffee from a can. Photograph: Ardagh Group
From the idea to the product
This innovative idea took quite a while to turn into a marketable product. Initially the developers tested nitrogen capsules at the bottom of a 500-ml beer can. However, a number of things work differently for black coffee in smaller 250-ml cans. What had to be taken into account was not just the special microbiological qualities of the coffee itself, but also the implementation of this technology in the bottling equipment.
When opening a Nitro can, the characteristic noise that comes out is similar to the hissing sound you get from a fizzy drink. This is the unmistakable sign that the capsule has been activated. When the drink is filled into a glass, the resulting nitrogen bubbles rise to the top, forming the intended creamy head.
So far not many European companies have picked up the new Nitro Coffee trend, and it remains to be seen whether it will catch on in Europe. Nevertheless, the Nitro can is a highly promising packaging solution which may even become suitable for the bottling of freshly brewed hot coffee one day. Well, new trends keep coming back. So let’s wait and see.