Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them. In today’s episode, we find out more about three incredible brands of cold-brew coffee and what’s driving the explosion of products in the market.
The cold brew industry is currently worth $29 million, which might sound small, but it’s projected to reach $170 million by 2025! You just have to walk into any Whole Foods and see the mass of cold-brew coffee products to know this is a category to watch.
Cold-brew coffee might be less popular than its warm cousin, coffee, but there are some companies already doing a great job to become brand leaders. In today’s episode, we take a look at three disruptive coffee companies looking to lead the way — Lucky Jack, High Brew, and OWYN.
We analyze each company’s background story, products, and pricing before we take a look at their social media and online presence. Then, we’ll rate them on our ‘Beer Scorecard’ to see which company wins the title of ‘Best Cold-Brew Coffee’ brand and which company founder we’d like to have a beer with. Our aim is to invite the founders on the show to chat with us.
We were amped to get a caffeine buzz this episode — let’s jump right in!
Lucky Jack was founded by Richard Karno in 2013 and is based out of New York City. According to LinkedIn, they have 8 employees currently. In 2016, fitness expert Jillian Michaels purchased a controlling stake in Lucky Jack and became a vital part of the company.
Here’s what’s interesting about that: having done a couple of episodes already where influencers or celebrities have become part of the company, we were surprised to find no trace of her involvement on their website or social media.
Lucky Jack uses organic coffee beans as part of their unwavering commitment to the health of both customers and farmers. At first glance, the unique packaging reminds us of an old-school root beer bottle. We debated the challenges this might bring with shipping heavier products that are easier to break.
We drank the smaller 7.5 oz bottle, which has mild carbonation and tastes rich with a dark coffee flavor that we loved. We loved their innovation in creating concentrates too. The 32 oz bottle contains espresso-charged cold brew concentrate, which yields ten cups of hot or cold coffee at an easy 1:1 mix. Their website says you can mix it with either water or milk.
High Brew chooses their coffee from the highest quality sources while making sure they are environmentally sustainable too. This is why High Brew gives a portion of their sales from every can to support Direct Trade farmers. Their partners are located in the Antioquia region of Colombia and consist of 3,600 members, one-third of which are women. Together, they comprise over 65,000 acres of coffee farms.
We thought this was a great touch and was well explained on their website as part of their overall brand and mission.
High Brew has six flavors in 8 oz slim cans, each with a little bit of carbonation to them. (Don’t shake them as RT did!) They have 130 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, which is about a normal cup of coffee.
We love that the packaging has its story on the back, which helps them stand out in this industry.
RT enjoyed the soft Salted Caramel, likening it to the quality of Starbucks. Tyler loved trying the Black & Bold because it’s both dairy-free and sugar-free, something that is top-of-mind right now. He could tell that it was sugar-free and dairy-free, but it delivered a smooth coffee taste of the highest quality.
High Brew’s other coffee flavors are creamy cappuccino, double espresso, iced chocolate mocha, Mexican vanilla, and Black & Bold (the dairy-free option).
A 12-pack on their website is $26, making the price per can just over $2.
OWYN (Only What You Need) was founded by Catherine Moose and Jeff Mroz. LinkedIn says they currently have 19 employees based in New York City. Interesting that out of the three companies, two were founded by a husband and wife team!
OWYN’s inspiration came from the duo being fitness enthusiasts who wanted to create something similar to a quality protein shake using plant-based protein.
OWYN is slightly different from the other three. In fact, they are a protein shake company that has Cold-Brew as one of their flavors, the others being Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Cookies & Creamless.
These are meal replacement shakes, of which Tyler has had extensive experience. OWYN has done a great job of showing healthy ingredients, like plant-based protein, and highlighting that they do not use dairy or soy.
While we weren’t 100% sold on the taste, being one of the healthier options to choose from gives it an advantage over competitors. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that the better it tastes, the unhealthier they usually are. Tyler did recognize that all our tastes are different, so he still highly recommends them based on their health benefits.
OWYN protein shakes are $35.99 for a 12-pack on their website.
After taking all of these statistics and our subjective opinions into account, we give our final score — the Beer Score (AKA which founder we want to find and have a beer with).
RT gave Lucky Jack 7/10 while Tyler gave them 6/10.
RT gave High Brew 7/10 while Tyler gave them 7/10.
RT gave OWYN 7/10 while Tyler gave them 6/10.
Lucky Jack looks like a craft root beer bottle and stood out among the three for RT if it were on the shelf to purchase.
Tyler feels High Brew’s packaging stands out the most on the shelf and entices him to see what flavors they have.
RT gave Lucky Jack 4/10 while Tyler gave them 6/10.
RT gave High Brew 8/10 while Tyler gave them 8/10.
RT gave OWYN 8/10 while Tyler gave them 7/10.
RT and Tyler agree that Lucky Jack loses this based on their focus being retail stores. High Brew’s advertising and professionalism come across consistently in their messaging and just barely beat out OWYN.
RT gave Lucky Jack 5/10 while Tyler gave them 4/10.
RT gave High Brew 6/10 while Tyler gave them 7/10.
RT gave OWYN 8/10 while Tyler gave them 8/10.
OWYN is getting 127,000 visits a month on their website, which alone stands out among the three. Lucky Jack had 1,200 with High Brew getting 14,000 (and growing). The website traffic demonstrates what a difference having a retail focus and a clear online strategy can make. The fact that OWYN has a subscription model too helps consistently drive people to their website.
Looking at the three Amazon sales with Jungle Scout, High Brew has $90,000 while OWYN has $9,000. Lucky Jack’s numbers were not available at all.
Again, Lucky Jack is available in 3,000 retail stores nationwide, which explains why their online presence is not a focus. We see the website visits compared with OWYN as a lost opportunity for them to work on.
RT gave Lucky Jack 6/10 while Tyler gave them 4/10.
RT gave High Brew 6/10 while Tyler gave them 6/10.
RT gave OWYN 7/10 while Tyler gave them 8/10.
Tyler feels both OWYN and High Brew are using their retail footprint as a marketing tool to build brand awareness. OWYN’s high-quality and healthy ingredients stood out for Tyler, making them his winner.
RT feels from a disruptive point of view OWYN is ahead of the others, even though they are dabbling in cold-brew coffee versus the other two being cold-brew-focused companies.
OWYN is the winner with a score of 59! It was close; High Brew was next with a score of 55, and in the last place was Lucky Jack with 42. If anyone has contact with Catherine and Jeff, we’d love to sit down over a cold-brew and chat with them about their success.
In this episode, we can see three companies with three different products and approaches carving out their own place in the cold-brew coffee category.
Lucky Jack’s success comes from a strong national retail footprint, with opportunities to improve their website and online presence. High Brew’s success comes through in reaching and engaging with their online audience and a great Amazon strategy. OWYN is doing everything well, a powerful social media presence, a great website including a subscription model, and clever use of ads to promote their business.
On Products Worth Talking About, our mission is to not only give you reliable information on disruptive products but also give you valuable insight into what makes great businesses successful! We have several takeaways that we plan to apply to our own businesses.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of Products Worth Talking About! Be sure to watch the video here to learn more about these incredible disruptive brands.
If you learned something today, we would love to hear from you. Take a screenshot of the episode and share your greatest takeaways with us on Instagram, @productsworthtalkingabout. And if you love the show, make sure to subscribe on YouTube so that you can get new content delivered to you directly! Let us know what products and brands you want us to review!
Lastly, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to build a product-based business, check out our business plan that literally writes itself! Within no time, you’ll be ready to pitch to investors and start the company of your dreams.
Thanks for reading! Until next time—
RT and Tyler