The company is betting on the rapidly growing market for coffee, which Euromonitor valued at $28bn globally in 2016, and forecasted to grow another $8.3bn by 2020.
While there has been rampant innovation in the creamer segment, it has mostly been within the perishable sector, focusing on plant-based products and better-for-you ingredient lists (Packaged Facts forecasted 15% growth for refrigerated coffee creamers by 2020), Carolyn Barbarite, founder and president of the start-up Javamelts, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“There’s nothing currently that’s individually wrapped, shelf-stable, non-dairy, portable and convenient."
This year she exhibited in two major shows, the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago and the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Since launching in February, Javamelts' distribution has slowly expanded beyond the local chains and independent stores on Long Island, where the company is based, securing its first national distribution deal with Cost Plus World Market recently.
Barbarite described the space her product occupies as more elevated than individual packets of creamers, but not as expensive as an indulgent cup from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.
This in-between space was what inspired the creation of Javamelts. A little over a year ago, on a chilly day, Barbarite was lounging at home with her husband of 27 years, and they were fixing to get a hot beverage.
“He asked me if I wanted some Starbucks, or Dunkin’ Donuts, or something special, and I said ‘no, it’s cold, let’s just stay in,’” Barbarite recalled. There was an individually wrapped chocolatey-marshmallow candy piece nearby, and she had the impulse to drop it in her homemade cup of coffee to add flavor.
“I became obsessed,” she said. It was the business idea she had always dreamed of to fulfill her passion for sales and marketing.
Formulation: People who like flavored coffee do not mind artificial flavoring
With the help of a food development consultancy, Barbarite came up with Javamelts’ final format. It is made of pure sugar, which she argued may win consumers over, though one potential drawback may be the product’s use of both natural and artificial flavoring.
However, Barbarite said she does not see this as problematic. “The coffee flavoring market is tremendous,” she said. “If people are interested in black coffee, they drink black coffee. But there’s a tremendous market and tremendous draw to our product.”
The target audience is not any specific age group, though she found through taste-tests that teenagers, young adults, and boomers gravitate favorably to the product. Her target is anyone “other than people who never put anything in their coffee,” to put it bluntly. “You will always find that people will treat themselves.”
Looking ahead—office coffee services, travel shops, stadiums, and more
What comes next? “The catering and travel industry are two of the biggest go-tos right now,” she said. This includes airlines, airports, stadiums, office coffee services—you name it.
The company has been self-funded up to this point, and aside from two operating partners, Barbarite has been running it as a one-woman show. Her next step is finding outside investments to continue to grow the brand.
“There’s tremendous market capability,” she said. “Wherever you see coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino… that’s where Javamelts belongs.”