Every day, more than 150 million Americans fuel their lives with coffee. According to the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, and seven out of 10 drink it every week. But what if there was a healthier caffeinated beverage to start the day with? That’s the question Super Coffee Founder and Chief Operating Officer Jordan DeCicco asked back in his college days. In his quest for a healthier caffeinated beverage, the idea for his better-for-you enhanced coffee brand — Super Coffee — was born.
“While I was a freshman studying business at Philadelphia University, after running sprints and lifting weights at 5 a.m. basketball practices, I struggled to find the energy boost for my classes,” he recounts. “I turned to campus vendors for coffee but only found ready-to-drink (RTD) Starbucks Frappuccinos, complete with 31 grams of sugar and 37 grams of carbohydrates, making the option a nonstarter. So, from my dorm room, I took to brewing my own coffee with strength-boosting protein and coconut oil.”
DeCicco’s functional creation soon became a hit with his teammates too, lending the product to more buzz. Two years later, DeCicco won the Thiel Fellowship, a two-year program that offers young people $100,000 to bring their ideas to life instead of spending that time in college. He partnered with his two older brothers, Jim, now Super Coffee CEO, and Jake, now chief revenue officer, to start the brand in 2015. Thus, the trio’s dream of bringing mass-produced positive energy to life from the basement of Jake’s Georgetown dorm was realized. The brand now is headquartered in Austin, Texas.
The “three Js” made the first Super Coffee sale at the Georgetown Whole Foods Market, and the brand’s distribution has grown to more than 56,000 retail locations nationwide. These include Target, Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and 7-Eleven, as well as through coffee subscription services and Amazon.com. The brand is being distributed by St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, a division of AB InBev; in New York by Big Geyser Inc., Maspeth, N.Y.; and in New England by Polar Beverages, Worcester, Mass.
In the competitive RTD coffee market, the brand expects to double its all-commodity volume in total U.S. food and multi-outlet channels in 2022.
Kicking out sugar
Super Coffee’s core product line is its 12-ounce RTD Super Coffees — the brand’s most popular SKUs. The RTD coffees are fortified with vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, zero-calorie monk fruit sweetener, L-theanine and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil. MCT features a combination of caprylic acid to support gut health and increase the number of ketones the body produces, and capric acid, which helps convert ketones into immediate energy. This combination of ingredients delivers all-day sustained energy with no sugar, jitters or crash, Jordan DeCicco says.
Today, the RTD line includes 12-ounce bottles in Mocha, Vanilla, Hazelnut, Caramel and seasonal varieties; 11-ounce cans in Sweet Cream and French Vanilla varieties; Super Cold Brew Black in an 11-ounce cans; and Super Espresso in 6-ounce cans in Triple Shot, Vanilla and Caramel varieties. All of these caffeinated coffees contain 100 calories or fewer; 4 grams of carbohydrates or less; and 1 gram of sugar or less, including no added sugar in any of the products.
“Our mission is to mass-produce positive energy,” Jordan DeCicco says. “We see coffee, in general, as a great vehicle to do that while bringing better, different and relevant products to our customers.”
To meet other coffee trends, the brand also offers creamers, pods and grounds. In line with the brand’s commitment to health, the Super Creamers, which are available in Original, Toasted Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Vanilla, Coconut Mocha, Sweet Cream and seasonal varieties, all contain 15 or fewer calories in a tablespoon with no sugar. The Super Coffee grounds in Dark Roast, Mocha, Vanilla and Hazelnut varieties contain 10 or fewer calories in each serving while delivering 200 mg of caffeine. The Dark Roast, Mocha, Vanilla, Hazelnut and seasonal Super Pods contain 10 calories or fewer and do not have any sugar. Many of the products in the portfolio are plant-based as well.
Fittingly for fall, the brand brought back its limited-edition fall seasonal flavor, Maple Pumpkin, in RTD Super Coffee, Super Pods and plant-based Super Creamer formats through December. The products have suggested retail prices of $33.99 for a 12-pack of 12-ounce RTD bottles; $19.99 for a three-pack of 25.4-ounce cartons of creamers; and $9.99 for a 10-count box of pods.
“We believe it's important to be better, different and relevant for our customers,” Jordan DeCicco says. “Pumpkin Spice Lattes are the talk of the town for coffee drinkers from August to October, and we are the only brand offering a healthy, delicious and affordable version of this infamous drink in various formats — with zero sugar as opposed to the 50 grams of sugar most fall seasonal drinks pack from big retailers.”
The company also is planning to release a White Chocolate Peppermint variety for winter and add even more flavors to its lineup in 2022.
“We've seen a lot of entrants at the top of the market with new and unique cold brew offerings and movement at the bottom of the market with flavor extensions, pack size adjustments and new concepts from category leaders,” Jordan DeCicco says. “With this in mind, we are always looking to evolve our products and release new and innovative flavors.”
Mixing in health and positivity
In addition to making a difference through its better-for-you products, the brand aims to spread positivity through its marketing campaigns. This year’s “Add Something Positive” campaign, which kicked off in June, aims to bring positive energy and happiness to overworked, stressed-out consumers.
“Now more than ever, consumers are in need of positive energy, with the many stressors and desires in their everyday lives,” Jordan DeCicco explains. “We’ve called upon consumers to spread positive energy through ‘Deliberate Acts of Positivity’ with a TikTok challenge kicked off by fitness influencer and partner Demi Bagby.”
In one campaign video, Bagby is seen handing out flowers and compliments, and then she challenges others to add something positive to themselves, someone else or their communities. Other TikTok users responded with videos of themselves giving a large tip to a waitress, filling community fridges, bringing treats to family members, picking up trash and doing other good deeds. Through digital, experiential and social content, the brand has garnered more than 315 million impressions to date.
The brand also partnered with innovators, athletes and celebrities — including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers; former NBA point guard Baron Davis; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey; and Miss USA 2012 and current fashion influencer, actress and social media personality Olivia Culpo — to help shape a more positive nation by removing sugar from the American diet. In September, the brand appointed two-time Olympic medalist and student-athlete Gabby Thomas as its first health and wellness advocate. In this role, Thomas will travel across the country to educate consumers about the adverse effects of consuming too much sugar, the company says.
“The average American drinks nearly four cups of coffee a day with approximately two teaspoons of sugar in each cup,” the brand said in a statement. “Super Coffee’s mission is to be a sugar-free solution that Americans can feel great about.”
The brand has helped remove more than 4 million pounds of sugar from the American diet so far, it says.
Part of the reason Thomas was selected as the health and wellness advocate was because of her authentic passion for the brand. She started drinking Super Coffee before her training sessions and then jumped at the opportunity to support the brand in a bigger way. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology and global health.
Super Coffee’s marketing efforts aim to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves, Jordan DeCicco explains. Looking into 2022, the brand already is innovating to continue to give consumers a better beverage option too.
“We are going to continue focusing on renovating our existing products, focusing on taste, while adding some fun with exciting new flavor launches in 2022,” Jordan DeCicco says. “Stay tuned.”