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Dunkin’ Spiked Gives New Life to Perpetually Dying Hard Coffee Category


As the pumpkin spice flavor trend rages unabated, the United States coffee giant Dunkin’ is revisiting a coffee beverage trend that has yet to find popular appeal among adult palates: hard coffee in a can.

The company has officially launched Dunkin’ Spiked, a line of canned “iced” coffee and tea beverages with alcohol. The ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages are notably not iced.

“The growing appetite for adult beverages inspired us to put a twist on our customers’ favorite Dunkin’ Iced Coffee, Iced Tea and Refresher flavors,” Brian Gilbert, Vice President of Retail Business Development at Dunkin’, said in an announcement from the company yesterday, while noting the brand’s previous explorations in the craft beer space. “Dunkin’ Spiked is perfect for day or night enjoyment and comes in eight distinct flavors, available in grocery and package stores later this month. This new line of ready-to-drink adult beverages elevates Dunkin’s offerings, and we know our 21+ fans will love every sip.”

The Dunkin’ Spiked coffee line includes four flavors – original, caramel, mocha and vanilla — each clocking in at 6% ABV. The spiked tea line also comes in four flavors, with each sitting at 5% ABV.

The Dunkin’ launch comes as other macro beverage brands have permanently shelved their hard coffee products after relatively short runs.


PBR Hard Coffee. Press photo.

In July 2019, Pabst Brewing Company captured headlines with its Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee, a 5% alcoholic coffee beverage that some reviewers described as like boozy Yoo-hoo. The PBR hard coffee line was unceremoniously discontinued last fall.

Shortly after the PBR launch, Philadelphia-based coffee brand La Colombe and Molson Coors (then known as MillerCoors) teamed up to launch Hard Cold Brew Coffee, which represented the first widely distributed RTD hard coffee launch from an actual coffee company. That product has since disappeared, while La Colombe and Molson Coors have since parted ways.


The modern era’s hard coffee progenitor, Bad Larry’s Cold Hard Coffee. 2017 promotional photo.

Yet the first RTD hard coffee in the modern era can be traced back to 2017, a time when hard seltzer brands such as White Claw were just beginning their rapid ascent and cold brew was simultaneously erupting like a geyser. That product came from a now-defunct brand called Bad Larry’s Cold Hard Coffee.

In the years since, several new brands such as California-based Bomani Cold Buzz or Wisconsin-based Twelve5’s Rebel Hard Coffee have managed to keep the canned alcoholic coffee party rolling, although the category remains littered with empties.

According to Dunkin’ — the latest company attempting to prove that Bad Larry had a good idea — the new hard coffee drinks will be distributed to grocery and liquor stores in 12 states beginning next month.

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