The Reason You Haven't Heard About Canned Hard Coffee

Much like a hit of caffeine peaks and then gradually leaves your body, the hard canned coffee market seems to be following suit. Beverage Industry reported exponential growth of the product back in the Fall 2020, saying there had been 11,000% growth in sales compared to the previous year. Sam Madani, CEO of BOMANI Cold Buzz, blamed this on the "better-for-you" movement saying, "consumers are looking for products that are lower in calories, sugars, and carbs" (per Beverage Industry). Skip forward to Fall 2022 and The Washington Post reports several companies have already discontinued their hard-canned coffee lines, including La Colombe and Pabst Brewing. "This year, all hard-coffee brands combined sold about 1 percent of the volume that the leading hard-tea brand, Twisted Tea, sold in stores nationally," per The Washington Post.

Yet, it's not that Americans don't enjoy the combination. Despite coffee being typically a morning drink and alcohol a nighttime drink, bartenders, in general, reported one of the most popular cocktails is an espresso martini (via The Washington Post). Unfortunately, no one has been able to pinpoint the exact reason for the hard canned coffee failure, though experts have speculated on some possibilities.

Why are cocktails at a bar so much better than at home

Some experts suggest that no company has yet to crack the formula for hard canned coffee that tastes good. Others say the cost of the product puts it in the premium hard canned range, but the quality doesn't match the price, per The Washington Post.

Fresh Cup reports that shopping patterns changed during the pandemic, and that increased ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee sales led to RTD hard coffee sales as more people drank at home. However, when restrictions started to ease and people started heading to bars again, sales for canned cocktails started to fall, especially for hard canned coffee. Pabst Brewing sales fell by 40% in 2022 and "the hard coffee segment as a whole is down 33%."

Abigail Gullo, creative director of the Loa Bar at New Orleans International House Hotel, told The Washington Post that espresso martinis were popular for the late afternoon crowd who were looking for "that little extra bit to get through to the night." However, she felt that it would be difficult for a canned hard coffee to compete with a freshly made cocktail, saying people enjoyed "that magical alchemy of us creating something unique in front of them."