Feature article

Coffee vault is next step in La Colombe’s ‘obsessive innovation’

Minivault
Minivault
,
Senior Editor, Packaging World
Pre-portioned, ground coffee in a petite pressurized aluminum can keeps La Colombe’s ground coffee fresh until opening.

Coffee company La Colombe is on an innovation streak. In late 2016, it launched its Draft Latte, a texturized coffee beverage for the RTD market enabled by a valved beverage can. Now, the company has introduced what it’s calling the MiniVault—a 5.1-oz aluminum can that keeps the pre-portioned ground coffee inside fresher up to five-times longer than traditional coffee packaging.

“Our aim is to change the landscape of coffee through obsessive innovation,” says Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe. “We want everyone to be able to experience exceptional coffee. The vault allows us to bring the best coffee to our home, all while removing the guesswork from measuring, grinding, and freshness.”

The idea behind the MiniVault is that rather than packaging freshly roasted and ground coffee in a package that allows the CO2 to degas, the vault holds the gas within the container, keeping the grind fresh until use. “Keeping coffee fresh for extended periods of time has been the holy grail for roasters ever since we started roasting coffee,” says Carmichael. “The MiniVault is the product of thinking outside of the traditional box and recognizing that if you retort the gassing process, you dramatically slow the aging of the coffee.”

As Carmichael relates, La Colombe brought the concept of the MiniVault to Crown Beverage Packaging North America in 2015. “We found in our labs that to properly preserve coffee, a high-pressure chamber was required,” he says. “The idea of using a beverage can came naturally, as we are using them for our Draft Latte, which is also pressurized. From there, we approached Crown to deliver the proper can size and unique opening that allows for easy removal of the coffee grounds.”

Consumer behavior drove the small can format. Through consumer research, La Colombe determined that most people still use a drip coffee machine at home; however, a pot of coffee is often too much. The 5.1-oz slim-style beverage can holds 37.2 g of coffee, enough for a half-pot (32 oz) of brewed coffee—the perfect size for two people on a weekday morning—as well as sufficient headspace for the coffee pressure. “Lastly, the size makes it perfect for ‘grab-and-go’ uses,” adds Carmichael.

The can is topped with Crown’s fully-removable can end, the 360 End®, which allows consumers to easily pour the ground coffee into a filter or device for brewing. Beneath the lid is a “grind guard,” a thin plate of flexible aluminum that prevents the coffee grounds from spraying out of the can upon opening. A digitally-printed, full-body shrink-sleeve label adorns the cans and is decorated with the La Colombe logo against a dark blue background.

La Colombe launched the MiniVault with its Corsica blend, which is the house blend brewed in all of its cafés, in July 2017 in an eight-count carton. It hopes to offer additional blends in this packaging format in the future. Corsica in the MiniVault is available at select La Colombe retail locations across the United States as well as via its website.

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