The Spanish language has a beautiful word to describe something warm —,,Caliente”. If you are stuck in a boreal or temperate climate zone, you can forget about warm weather for at least a couple of months. However, in 2015 the Sweden-based Caliente brand hit the shelves. This perfect innovation in the adult drink market warms your body after the first sip. One year ago, Caliente appeared on DrinkPreneur’s Product Review section, getting the highest score. Today, I have the pleasure to talk about the first year of Caliente with its founder Thomas Adner.
I was working in the Middle East for many years, as head of North Africa for a supplier to the beverage industry, and it struck me that there were so many people not drinking alcohol, and so little choice of premium alternatives. And when I looked into it, I realized this was also a strong trend globally; people drink less alcohol. Also, when you look at what the alternatives are, they are still either, boring, un-healty or just bad copies.
But Caliente is something completely new! By replacing the alcohol with chili, we copy the effect of alcohol to some extent, by also stimulating the reward center in the brain. What makes Chili hot is Capsaicin, which tricks the brain to believe there is a burning sensation. This is why chili triggers the release of endorphins and you get that nice little kick.
Searching for the right brand name is often a long process, and we went through endless numbers of alternatives. When we stumbled upon the word Caliente we thought it just felt just right. It doesn’t mean spicy per se, it actually means warm in Spanish. But the word is one of those fun words that can mean many things in slang, some of them even quite provocative.
And it is also easy to spell and pronounciate in most langueages.
We have also won two big international awards, Best New Premium Drink at World Beverage Innovation Awards, and Best new Organic Drink in Scandinavia.
But the thing we are most proud of is of course the amazing review we got from you guys at Drinkpreneur, the best score you have ever given to any new product. Wow!
We are getting a lot of interest from a number of markets, but the ones closest to launch are as widespread as India, UK, the Netherlands and Dubai. We really see evidence that this is a global concept with appeal for urban people all around the world.
Getting the flavors and the balance right is always challenging, especially if you are perfectionists and has decided to work only with the best organic ingredients. But in our case the biggest hurdle was to get the chili heat level just right, and without too much chili flavor.
In order to follow up the initial two flavors, we’re collaborating with Sweden’s first female Michelin Chef, Titti Qvarnström, for development of the coming flavors. If you ask me, they taste even better!
We have been aiming at reaching out internationally from day one. But that we didn’t expect the amazing response from so many places, so quick. However, building an international business takes time, and whenever unforeseen challenges can happen, they seem to do. Running a start-up is a lot about putting out fires.
It’s a completely new kind of product in a new category. And although we think we’re really clear in our communication, it takes longer time to get the message across when you are selling something truly new and different.
At first we sold directly to urban cafés, small organic shops and restaurants. Once we had a customer base it was easier to go to wholesalers as well as talking to chains. Sometimes it was actually easier then expected. 7Eleven in Sweden is one example, we had a first meeting, where we were expecting to do some pre-selling for the future, but walked out with an agreed listing.
Don’t spend more money than absolutely necessary – things always take longer than anticipated.
For more information visit re-branded Caliente website.