The brand’s ready-to-drink sparkling cascara-based beverage line has relaunched in flavors of Ginger Yuzu, Hibiscus Dragonfruit and Passionfruit Guava. All the drinks continue to be based on cascara — the dried fruit from coffee cherries — yet the fruit no longer gets top billing.
“While cascara is still on the front of the label, it’s on the bottom and has a smaller hierarchy,” Alldae Co-Founder and CEO Ryan McDonnell told Daily Coffee News. “This way someone at a glance can see that it is a fruit-based sparkling beverage that has health benefits. These were among the most important information that consumers told us they wanted to know about the product.”
McDonnell said one key takeaway from the company’s own research into cascara demand was that consumers seemed most compelled by the gentle caffeine boost it provided, and less so by potential gustatory, social or environmental benefits.
“We thought it might have been the ‘upcycled’ part of it, or maybe the story behind it, or even the flavors. But more than anything else, ‘lightly caffeinated’ was the most interesting, which was really cool and I think taught us quite a lot about what cascara’s value is to consumers,” McDonnell said. “That, and unsurprisingly, we found that the awareness of what cascara is, is very low.”
Despite relatively low familiarity among consumers and third-party retailers, cascara products and consumption are on the rise, McDonnell said, noting that Starbucks, Nescafe and Blue Bottle have all promoted cascara-based products.
At the smaller, independent end of the aisle, Alldae regularly sits down with fellow makers in the cascara/coffee fruit space — including Be Goat, Up To Good and The Other Side of Coffee — in an effort to push the category forward.
“We’re all talking and we all want to support each other,” said McDonnell. “I think we all see the challenge in educating consumers and have seen that big uphill battle.”
A licensed Q Grader who previously served as chief beverage officer for Elemental Beverage Co., McDonnell co-founded Alldae Cascara in 2021 with fellow Q Grader Lee Zheng, who also runs New York City-based roasting company Saltwater Coffee.
With a set of three canned RTD drinks in flavors called Original, Pineapple and Ginger, Alldae’s marketing initially sought to connect its fizzy, energizing drinks to the fruit shed specifically from Gesha coffee cherries grown on Finca Deborah in Panama. Effort was made to highlight the upcycling of waste created by industrial coffee production, as well the potential for additional revenue for coffee producers. Yet Alldae’s research suggested the mere association with “coffee” was confusing to consumers.
“As soon as the word ‘coffee’ entered the equation, nearly everyone expected the drink to taste like coffee — even our old ‘Pineapple’ flavor,” said McDonnell. “With the rebrand we’ve adopted the moniker ‘superfruit soda’ to solve this.”
Production of Alldae’s new products has scaled up dramatically through partnership with an upstate New York-based manufacturer, plus additional partners helping to source larger quantities of flavorful, high-quality cascara from a variety of producers in different countries.
“I would be surprised if [cascara] doesn’t really blow up in the next five years and maybe even sooner,” said McDonnell. “Some big eyes are really watching, and I think there’s a great opportunity to both get the product out there to consumers, as well as hopefully for a brand that cares to lead the charge and do it ethically.”
McDonnell will be talking about cascara at the New York Coffee Festival as part of his ongoing efforts to promote the ingredient to industry peers and consumers alike.
For the latter, Alldae is currently trying to avoid what McDonnell described as a more “heavy handed” sales approach, while focusing primarily on the flavorful, naturally sweet fizzy drink at hand.
“If I get people to taste all three of these flavors and sit with me for even 30 seconds, I’m talking about cascara, I’m talking about coffee, I’m getting into that conversation with people, but it is the second or third thing that they hear,” said McDonnell. “It’s usually a bit further on because we have to get people to care about the product to begin with.”
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