Sales of shelf-stable ready-to-drink coffee with CBD were up 154,000 percent in January 2021, compared to the prior year in conventional and natural brick-and-mortar stores, according to data from Chicago-based SPINS. It attributes the skyrocketing growth to the introduction of new products such as CBD-infused cold brews and consumer demand for food and beverages with functional benefits.
Coffee is also an approachable category given that it’s already part of most Americans’ rituals, says Rick Maturo, associate client director at NielsenIQ in Chicago.
“In coffee, there’s something for everyone and drinking coffee is something the majority of adults do, so it’s a very approachable category,” he says. “The fact that it’s such a well-established part of folks’ beverage regimen bodes well for coffee.”
CBD-infused tea and CBD carbonated beverages are also booming in stores, though to a lesser extent. Maturo expects sales of CBD-infused drinks to remain strong, but especially sparkling drinks and coffee because they’re so familiar. “They easily fit into people’s lives and don’t require them to change their habits.”
James Reina and Alvaro Ortega launched Jibby Coffee last month, selling it via e-commerce, in gourmet grocery stores, at a restaurant in Miami, and at Showfields retail concepts in Miami and New York, as part of an “experiential showcase” that features hand-picked products. They started with these two cities since they’re further ahead from a CBD approval standpoint and because CBD is more culturally acceptable there.
Reina and Ortega opted to do a soft launch with friends and family and slowly move out from their networks and onto e-commerce in the hope of seeing sales nationwide. “The big grocery chains aren’t ready to take on CBD beverages yet. We want to win the online brand awareness game, so when those chains are ready, we’ll have data and a following,” Reina says.
To get the word out, they’re mostly relying on Instagram, where they post regularly. They also invited their initial customers to get $5 off a 12-pack if they posted there about Jibby. “The organic user-generated content we’ve seen from this has been a huge help in extending our network beyond our early supporters and building trust with those who are new to our coffee,” Reina points out.
They also partnered with a “well-read” newsletter in Miami and ran a giveaway through it. “We got some brand awareness from that,” says Ortega, “but we’re not doing a big push yet. We want to really understand the market before we hit the ground running with marketing.”
Jibby is available in six- and 12-packs as well as in a 90-fluid ounce box with a tap. Surprisingly, the box option has been the most popular. “Everyone’s working from home so it’s easy to have a box in your fridge,” says Reina. “A lot of people see the box as being less wasteful,” adds Ortega, “and it allows them to be more flexible in how much they drink.”
But the big draw is they’re making it easy for consumers to try CBD, they say. “We’re going to capture people who want to try CBD for the first time and we’ve solved the dosing issue for them.”
Image: Jibby Coffee