Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ready To Drink Vietnamese Coffee

When we first were told that this product was in development our response was, loosely summarized, "that's not going to work." Highlands told us that their goal was to actually brew Vietnamese-style coffee into cans and somehow approximate the process of brewing through the small Phin filter like a traditional sit-down Vietnamese Coffee in a coffee café.

They had spoken with a lot of experts who no doubt told them that it couldn't be done and they would be better off doing what the other coffee companies had done, buy a commercial coffee extract and some commercial creamer and sugar and mix it into a bottle like a Yahoo milk drink. But they persisted with their goal of capturing fresh-brewed coffee in a can, in high production volume. The end result was worth two years of R&D. It led to the almost universally liked RTD (Ready To Drink) Highlands Vietnamese Coffee which is now, since its intro in December 2009, been snapped up in 21 countries as a "blockbuster product" (to quote the Australian RTD distributor who also distributes Red Bull).

Why is the RTD Vietnamese Iced Coffee such a likable product? Several reasons.

Taste. It's just not like any other coffee drink you have ever tasted. It's better and fresher by far.

Convenience. How could anything be more convenient than popping the top of a can for a fresh glass of iced coffee?

Portability. Unlike most coffee sources, RTD cans go almost anywhere. And even though they are "Iced Coffee", they can be enjoyed at any temperature. They require no other equipment to brew, mix or enjoy.

Versatility. We didn't appreciate this until we finally had the full shipment (didn't want to waste our precious advance samples on tests), but the RTD cans are not only a perfectly balanced coffee drink as they are, but they are a perfect base for smoothies, shakes, bar drinks and many things we probably haven't even tried yet.

We expected the RTD Iced Coffee to be a product we would sell to the commercial and wholesale market, but consumer reaction was so strong we put it on the web as a retail product and the response has been overwhelming. Then we thought people would buy single cans, but the first question always is, "How much is a case?". So we created a case price (24 cans) and a reduced shipping price compared to the singles.

We could go on and on about the RTD coffee, but after all, it would just be us enthusing about a product we tried ourselves. That never does much for anybody over the web. So first we made free samples available to the emailing list (preferred and repeat customers) and now we will offer it as one of our free samples to new customers, as soon as we can get the item programmed into the website.

We worked hard to obtain an exclusive distribution of this great new product in the USA. Give it a try and tell us what you think.

Here is a bar drink recipe from the new drink selection we have been working feverishly to perfect for that segment of the market (creating and sampling bar drinks is a rough job, but somebody has to do it! Volunteers are welcome, give us a call!) We intend to have a full recipe gallery for the RTD coffee as soon as we can manage it - bar drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, cooking recipes and more. Send us your own recipe, and if we use it we will pay you $50 and give you a gift certificate you can use on the website.


This drink needs a better, sexier name, but was given this moniker because drinking it gives you a serious case of HappyMouth and a smile that survives the worst afternoon or evening (even Mondays).

Ingredients: Highlands Iced Coffee, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Creme de Cacao, Kahlua Mocha
4 oz Highlands Black
1 oz Bailey’s Irish Creme
3/4 oz Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz Kahlua Mocha
(shake through ice and pour)

The secret to a good drink recipe is finding that perfect balance that allows the flavors to all be perceived without anything being overwhelming. This drink has the kind of magic that leaves you wondering what the dominant flavors are, but not really caring because the balance is so pleasing to the nose and palate.

If you don't have the ingredients above and don't want to rush out to the liquor store, and you have some Kahlua (coffee brandy) and Vodka (optional), try a Sombrero using a little Vodka and Kahlua with your RTD Coffee (Milk) over ice... 4 ounces Highlands RTD Milk, 2 ounces Kahlua, 1/2 ounce Vodka over ice. It's not the classic recipe of a "Kahlua & Cream", but its a lighter and more refreshing drink for upcoming summer weather.

For a non-alcoholic smoothie/shake, use the RTD Coffee (Milk version) as the base for your next protein shake. We suspect it also a good base for righteous coffee ice cream, but we haven't gotten there yet.