Super Coffee parent company raises $106M to continue expansion

Dive Brief:

  • Super Coffee’s parent company raised $106 million in a Series C funding round, bringing its total valuation to over $500 million, according to Bloomberg. Kitu Life, which makes the better-for-you coffee brand, will use the funds to expand product distribution as well as increase brand-building efforts, CEO Jim DeCicco told the publication.
  • The round was led by Durable Capital Partners. Other investors include Boston Beer Co. CEO Dave Burwick, soon-departing Schnuck Markets COO and former Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock; LivWell Ventures; the family office of Nutrabolt Chief Executive Officer Doss Cunningham and 7-Eleven Inc.’s venture arm.
  • Since brothers Jim, Jake and Jordan DeCicco launched the company in 2016, the startup has amassed interest from both famous investors and the beverage establishment. Previous investors include actor and singer Jennifer Lopez, retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez, Green Bay Packers player Aaron Rodgers, author Amy Jo Martin and actor Patrick Schwarzenegger, while AB InBev distributes Super Coffee and its ZX Ventures innovation arm has invested in it. 

Dive Insight:

Super Coffee is approaching growth with a go-big-or-go-home strategy. After its pitch for a sugar-free bottled coffee was turned down on the reality show “Shark Tank” in 2018, the brand has become the fastest growing private company in food and beverage, according to 2020 IRI data cited by the startup. From Q4 of 2020 to Q2 of 2021, the startup said its revenue grew 106% from $200 million to just over $400 million.

Not only is the company growing quickly, but says it has overtaken nearly all the competition to become the third largest bottled coffee in the country, behind only Starbucks’ Frappuccino and Dunkin’ bottled coffee, citing IRI stats.

RTD coffee has become a major category in recent years, with beverage companies from Coca-Cola to Molson Coors leaning on the drink in order to diversify their product offerings. Super Coffee launched at a time when consumers are very interested in the product category, and its growth has underscored interest in the segment from both consumers and investors. Super Coffee has other products in the larger coffee category as well, including creamers and coffee pods.

The startup has put a spotlight on its brand by aligning itself with famous investors, who can bring more than money to the table. Celebrities can attact clout and attention for CPG companies that otherwise might strike out with consumers. As Super Coffee is looking to transform its brand into a household name quickly, it makes sense to rely on well-known personalities to act as brand ambassadors and bring their own fans to become consumers.

Super Coffee continues to stand out thanks to its focus on better-for-you without sacrificing functionality. Its big push is to eliminate sugar from coffee consumption. According to a continually changing number on its website, Super Coffee has eliminated 4.4 million pounds of sugar from American diets since 2016 by using monk fruit as its sweetener. In addition to sugar reduction, the company’s coffee is fortified with vitamins, protein, antioxidants and stress relievers MCT oil and L-theanine. Super Coffee’s clean labels, with mostly recognizable ingredients, also increase its appeal to today’s consumers.

If the brand continues to grow, it may become an acquisition target for larger beverage companies. The other top RTD coffee brands are affiliated with some of the largest food companies: PepsiCo distributes Starbucks RTD beverages, and Coca-Cola distributes Dunkin’s bottled coffee in the U.S. 

Super Coffee may be gearing up for a potential sale. Rosanna Godden, who formerly worked for Amazon, Whole Foods and Starbucks, became its CFO in April. Godden, who has 20 years of financial and operational experience, led the $13.7B Whole Foods Market acquisition by Amazon. Her past experience is an asset for a company with high growth potential and clear interest from Big Food. 

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