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Iced coffee celebrates 10th anniversary.

Iced coffee has been called the most exciting coffee discovery in recent memory. It's easy to understand why as iced coffee beverages can be found everywhere and represents the area of greatest increase in coffee consumption.

As we contemplate just how important iced coffee beverages have been and will continue to be to the industry, it is critical to understand the origins of the beverage and how and why this beverage was created.

This year we mark the 10th anniversary of the actual founding of the modern iced coffee beverage. As one of the several members of the coffee trade who played a part in this great discovery, I thought it was important to document its history.

The modern generation of iced coffee beverages was officially born during the summer of 1983 at the Coffee Development Group (CDG) sponsored coffeehouse at Northwestern University in Chicago. It was there that the first experiment occurred using a sweet and creamy iced coffee beverage in contrast to the traditional way of serving hot coffee over ice. When the new version of iced coffee outsold iced tea at the coffeehouse more than two to one, it didn't take a rocket scientist to realize there was a great future ahead.

CDG then started asking the question that launched a full scale effort: Why shouldn't iced coffee be as popular as iced tea? Why isn't iced coffee served by the poolside during the summer?

The next major development in the beverage came in the summer of 1984. CDG with industry sponsor Ted Lingle, conducted further experiments at its coffeehouse at the University of Southern California (USC). USC was the site of the Olympics and provided housing for athletes. Because of the coffeehouse's success, USC asked CDG and Lingle Bros. Coffee to provide coffee carts, strategically located on the campus to serve the Olympic visitors.

Initially, the plan was to have two carts outfitted for the sale of hot coffee, both regular and decaffeinated, and hot espresso and cappuccino. But with the temperatures around 95OF most of the day, we wouldn't be selling many hot beverages. It was an opportunity to try something new with iced coffee.

The challenge was to determine how iced coffee could be served to the thousands of people who would walk past the cats. It was this dilemma that led CDG to experiment with chilled beverage dispensers, known to the foodservice community as bubblers.

Back then, most coffee professionals had never heard of bubblers but the equipment had been commonly used in convenience stores, movie theaters, and fast food outlets to chill and dispense fruit juices and other powdered base drinks. The bubblers could do it all: cool, mix, merchandise, and dispense the coffee beverages.

Next came the decisions as to what beverages would sell the best. Having little experience, we started with three different formulations and intended to keep changing them until we found a winner. We started with a traditional iced coffee, black and cold with moderate sweetener. Then we tried a chocolate mint flavored and a cappuccino-style beverage, dark roast with creamer and sweetener.

Our next challenge was to create enticing names for the three beverages. After all, cold coffee doesn't sound very thrilling. We ultimately came up with Campus Cooler (black with sweetener), Mocha Mint (Chocolate Mint), and for the dark roast with cream and sweetener - Iced Cappuccino.

The results were overwhelming. In 10 days, a total of over 7,000 12 oz. cups of iced coffee were sold. at was 7,000 servings in spite of being surrounded by all the competing cold beverages.

Iced Cappuccino was the instant winner as it outsold the other two coffee drinks by seven to one. As Ted Lingle said, "It was a lottery ticket that came in." The cart staff had trouble keeping up with the demand. By the third day, all three cells of the bubbler had Iced Cappuccino.

Clearly, we had received the answer to our initial questions: create a new iced coffee beverage, one that was both sweet and creamy using a dark roast coffee.

From that tremendous success, it was logical for CDG to introduce the new coffee program at its coffeehouses on more than 60 campuses over the country over the next few years. The success continued as coffeehouses reported increases in coffee consumption ranging from 50 to 80%.

Over the years, CDG continued to test and experiment with iced coffee beverages, including conducting formal national consumer taste tests.

Research results were continuously shared with the coffee industry in an effort to motivate them to manufacture and serve iced coffee beverages all around the country. We have all witnessed the excellent results in the marketplace.

CDG also produced a variety of promotional materials including table, tents, cups, posters, recipes, balloons, and buttons. Although the offices CDG officially closed in January of 1991, many of these items are still available from the CDG catalog and can be ordered by calling the fulfillment house at (703) 683-8644.

There were many doubters back in the early days. But, a survey of the myriad of iced coffee beverages available today at all outlets, including advertisements on national television, demonstrates how much has been accomplished in just 10 years.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Levin, Michael
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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