Remember Georgia Coffee? We'll refresh your memory. It's the ready-to-drink coffee in a can from Coca-Cola Japan, branded as Georgia in homage to the birthplace of the infamous soda. It wasn't the first ready-to-drink coffee on the market, but it became a huge hit in vending machines. Now, Coca-Cola Japan is once again ready to break new ground and they have their eye on one particular kind of drink: the first alcoholic Coke product.
Jorge Garduño, the president of Coca-Cola's Japan business unit, stated that the brand will begin testing a new drink known in Japan as Chu-Hi. Per the release, it's a "canned drink that includes alcohol; traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called sh?ch? and sparkling water, plus some flavoring." This is the first time that Coca-Cola will experiment in the low alcohol category, and there's no better place to start than Japan.
Sh?ch? is a grain-based alcohol and the flavors of chu-hi drinks range from berry to cream soda and iced tea. This is the first time, per the Wall Street Journal, that the company will develop its own alcoholic drink. "From 1977 to 1983, Coca-Cola owned a wine subsidiary called Wine Spectrum that it sold to Joseph E. Seagram and Sons," but that is the extent of their branching out into the alcoholic beverages market.
While it's unknown if Coca-Cola will expand this new low-alcohol drink to the United States, it's true that many drinks in the Japanese market never make it stateside. Georgia Coffee is one example, and even a laxative version called Coca-Cola Plus.
The modest experiment of testing the local spirit, however, will tell Coke exactly how much interest consumers have in drinks outside of their core areas of soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages.
As for Coca-Cola North America, the brand purchased Topo Chico last year for a pretty penny in response to the newfound popularity of sparkling waters that began with La Croix a few years ago. In an effort to reach female drinkers and millennials, Coke also updated the branding and appearance of Diet Coke with new flavors to boot.