Rage against the coffee machine: India’s Rage Coffee banks on vitamin-infused brews and fuller flavour to triple sales
Rage Coffee produces instant coffee formulated with six plant-derived vitamins, that work synergistically with caffeine to provide energy without the jitters. The aim was also to produce a high-quality coffee to replicate the experience in cafes.
Its founder, Bharat Sethi told FoodNavigator-Asia and NutraIngredients-Asia, there was a huge gap in the market for high quality coffee especially in the tier two and three cities in India.
As most high-quality coffee in India is imported, Sethi set out to create a homegrown company to compete with international brands.
Among India’s growing coffee culture, instant coffee was the fastest growing segment. Rage Coffee’s target audience are younger consumers (18 to 34 years old) who are looking for a high-quality coffee, yet affordable and convenient.
Taste and aroma
According to Sethi, taste and aroma were key to building the right coffee that consumers were looking for.
For taste, it was using Arabica beans which Sethi claims not many brands were using for instant coffee at that time.
In addition, most instant coffee tend to be processed in large batches, and spray dried or freeze-dried. Spray drying requires coffee extract to be sprayed into hot air, which dries the droplets and turns them into fine powder. Freeze drying is freezing coffee extract and cutting into small fragments before drying at low temperature.
Typically, doing large batches and spray drying creates fewer aromatic compounds, and reflavours the coffee, at the same time also reduces the intensity of caffeine, which is what people enjoy.
Instead, Rage Coffee uses a small batch crystallisation freeze drying process which help keeps the aromatic compounds intact, preserving quality, flavour as well as the caffeine.
Rage Coffee’s products have 90 to 120mg of caffeine per serving, while instant coffee in the market may contain about 60mg.
While it is a coffee product, the company decided to infuse vitamins.
The six vitamins are sourced across the world, including L-theanine, Panax Ginseng from South Korea, L-Glutamine and Bacopa Monnieri from India, Rhodiola Rosea from Siberia, and Ginkgo Biloba from Indonesia.
These vitamins have many functions ranging from balancing anxiety, improving blood flow, work efficiency, and help reduce jitters especially for people sensitive to caffeine.
The method is propriety, but Sethi told us some of the vitamins were infused at the time of liquification while some at the homogenisation stage.
Rage Coffee currently retails several SKUs of its base coffee product which comes in different flavours, and a coffee shot in a biodegradable vial.
The shot was targeted at consumers who wanted to drink coffee on the go,
“It is our base coffee product, for people taking it to the gym, office or travelling,” said Sethi.
The company has about 40 ingredient suppliers ensuring a stable supply chain especially during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, which Sethi added it resulted in coffee consumption at home skyrocketing.
“One of the biggest gaps that we found in the market was that nobody was using complex flavours to pull customers in, beyond the traditional vanilla and chocolate,” he added,
“A lot of our flavours are unique to our consumers, such as butterscotch, chai, mint chocolate and we use all natural flavours.”
Positioning itself as a caffeine company, Rage Coffee is exploring NPD in chewables, ground coffee, drip bags, caffeinated energy bars, RTD coffee, and coffee supplements.
Rage Coffee deploys an omni-channel approach, selling 50% online, and the rest offline.
For online, about 75% of sales is through its website and 25% through e-commerce platforms. Rage Coffee is available in all major online platforms in India.
For offline, it is targeting non-metro cities, and entering regional supermarkets and retail stores where larger brands are not present. The products are available in more than 600 retail outlets.
The company recently entered US through Amazon. It also has a small amount of distribution to the UAE and Australia.
The company recently raised an undisclosed amount of growth capital from Getvantage and has closed a round of funding led by Refex Capital, a SEBI-registered early-stage venture capital firm with participation from members of angel network - Keiretsu Forum Chennai - and other prominent investors last year.