When stuck at home, people get creative. They’ve transformed into gardeners, bread makers and even bartenders. With temperatures dipping and Covid fatigue growing stronger, sales of DIY hot cocktails have hit the roof. Unlike so many businesses that are currently struggling to survive, Cask & Kettle is one trying to keep up with demand.
The makers of hot, ready to brew boozy coffee and cider started thanks to a joke made at an afternoon office meeting in Michigan when Lucinda Wright and co-founder Pete Borozan were in an all-team budget meeting. The group was asked if they would like some coffee and Lucinda quipped only if it included alcohol. That got the creative juices percolating and before long they created a prototype that led to the birth of the company that is now elevating coffee with a variety of spirits for any occasion.
We spoke with Wright to find out what has made these cocktails a lockdown hit.
Q&A With Lucinda Wright, Co-Founder and President of Cask & Kettle
Q: What is your favorite hot cocktail to prepare at home?
A: I think it’s a tie between Irish Coffee and Mexican Coffee. Having said that, we put so much effort into recipe development getting the flavor and experience just right I feel very connected to all of our drinks.
Q: With people stuck at home more now, have you seen a boost in sales?
A: Absolutely! And a boost from the various ways people are using the pods. We have spent a lot of time educating around how they can be used in the brewer or you can peel back the lid and use it in ice or just with hot/cold water. Also, people have gotten really creative using our pods in recipes such as boozy frosting for cupcakes or apple compote. It’s fun to be a taste tester.
Q: Has the business had to adjust or pivot at all over the last year?
A: We’ve had tremendous growth and all of the challenges that accompany it. A few larger grocery and big box brands have been testing our drinks in some markets. We are expanding into new markets like New England where consumers have been asking for us and trying to keep up with demand in current states. All good problems to have.
Q: Do you need a Keurig™ machine to enjoy Cask & Kettle beverages?
A: Nope. You can use ice water or just hot water. Water is the only “add” you need to make our hard coffees or cider. We also encourage people to get creative with their drinks by adding your favorite finishing touches (flavored creamer, coffee liquors, ice cream, whipped cream, caramel, chocolate, marshmallows, fruit, etc.) There are no rules!
Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned as a business over the past year that you can share to help others?
A: This past year, for a lot of people I think, has been one of intense pressure. I’ve come out of it knowing how to better rely on my own instincts and I have a high level of confidence in our team and our drinks. Lots of deep breaths mental toughness and tenacity. We know what works and our team has managed a lot as CPG executives, so we just needed to remember to trust our skill and background knowledge.
Co-Founder and President of Cask & Kettle
Cask & Kettle’s boozy cocktail pods work in existing home brewing systems and are creating an entirely new segment in the world of spirits.