We’ve been monitoring Coca-Cola’s murky interests in the coffee business for some time now. The most obvious example being their patent filings in recent years, which have lead to — among other things — their launch of Far Coast coffee pod and machine systems for food service retailers.

In today’s news, Coke announced they will be offering restaurant operators a liquid coffee system — an on-demand, “shelf stable, bag-in-box” coffee made from concentrate — called The Juan Valdez Coffee System: BREAKING NEWS: Coca-Cola FoodService Partners with Juan Valdez – Restaurant News – QSR Magazine. The latest incarnation of Juan Valdez was apparently out in promotional force for it at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show today in Chicago.

According to the Cokesters, the system “will use Juan Valdez caféREALE coffee—a shelf-stable coffee concentrate that can be stored at room temperature for up to nine months.” Move over, Folgers — doesn’t that just call out, “the best part of waking up is a shelf stable, bag-in-box concentrate in your cup”?

It appears Coke’s strategy is to lay claim to a chasm-crossing beachhead — their Omaha Beach or Anzio if you will — securing some footing in the restaurant coffee business. And they are making their assault on multiple fronts — Juan Valdez branding being just their latest tactic. This also presents a branding oddity for the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia, which has opened retail coffee shops under the Juan Valdez name in a few U.S. locations. However, the Juanistas may feel they can avoid brand confusion because their Coke deal markets to restaurateurs and their cafés market directly to consumers.

UPDATE: May 21, 2007
Coca-Cola’s Juan Valdez system now has something in common with what rugged outdoorsmen drink for caffeine while writing their manifestos at their wilderness compounds: The Food Network’s ‘Unwrapped’ to feature Java Juice(R) Liquid Coffee Extract – Food & Beverages News from Send2Press Newswire Mon, 21 May 2007. There’s no denying it — shelf-stable liquid coffee extracts are all the rage!


UPDATE: May 30, 2007
The Latin Business Chronicle published an article on Columbia’s coffee export struggles in the face of competition from the likes of Vietnam and other parts of Asia: Latin Business Chronicle – Made in Colombia: Coffee. Moves like Colombia’s “shelf stable, bag-in-box” coffee partnership with Coke may actually harm a lot more than they help. Once the esteem of Colombia’s exports are brought down to the level of “coffee extract syrup”, Vietnamese production will massacre them on volume and cost.

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