Coffee Product Flops and Failures

Bygone Coffee Products in History

The coffee industry is always evolving. Consumers are wishy-washy and fickle with their taste buds. Certain items appear on the market like a flash-in-the-sky comet. Unique ideas are here today and gone tomorrow. Coffee shops have been around in one form or another since the 1600’s. Hence there have been a few spectacular coffee-related product failures through the years.

Let’s take a look at some of these interesting items that are no longer available.

Coffee-flavored Soda

Coffee-flavored Soda

PepsiCo and Starbucks came together on a product idea in 1994. They launched a bottled soda called Mazagran. It was a coffee-and-cola flavored soda touted as having notes of spice and citrus.

Some consumers said that when they opened the bottle, they were met with a distinct burnt-coffee smell. That’s probably not a good thing!

Mazagran was only on the market for a year before being shelved. Pepsi Kona and Diet Pepsi Kona were similar products released in 1996. These two beverages never even made it out of the test market onto store shelves.

If the R&D folks at the soft-drink giant Coca-Cola had done their market research, they may have stayed away from tying to market a coffee-cola combo. Coca-Cola introduced BlāK in 2006.

It was basically coffee and Coca-Cola mixed together. The product was not a hit with consumers.

Perhaps this was due to the bitter aftertaste from the presence of the artificial sweetener aspartame. This product was discontinued in 2007.

Cola drinkers and coffee drinkers both enjoy a burst of energy from caffeine. But for the most part, it appears that consumers prefer that those flavors remain separate.

Do you have a hankering for a coffee-flavored soda that’s actually still on the market? Try a Manhattan Special. This espresso-soda has been available for decades. Consequently, it has a diverse and devoted following.

Ready-to-Drink Coffee

Ready-to-Drink Coffee

In 1990, Maxwell House introduced a ready-to-drink coffee product. It was packaged in a large carton and sold in the refrigerated foods section of the grocery store.

The beverage was intended to be reheated in the microwave one cup at a time. The carton wasn’t microwavable, due to the container’s foil inner lining. Consumers didn’t quite know how to use the product.

The huge cold-brewed coffee craze had not yet taken hold of American consumers. It seems that the product was simply ahead of its time.

The company’s aim may have been convenience, but the product was a virtual flop.

Coffee Jell-o®

Coffee Jell-o®

The Jell-o brand of gelatin products appeared way back in 1897. A coffee-flavored variety was launched – and subsequently shelved – in 1918.

Could this be re-imagined for today’s consumers? Perhaps a savvy marketer could reattempt a similar product with some success.

Jell-o shots, Kahlua drinks, and cappuccino-flavored treats are all the rage on certain bar menus.

Perhaps this bygone item may reappear in the future, packaged as alcohol-enhanced party shots or tiramisu-flavored one-bite desserts. Sounds like something I would try!



This instant beverage product was discontinued by the manufacturer in 2007. But the loud outcry from a loyal fan-base resulted in the product being reintroduced in 2012.

Have you tried it? If you have grandparents or older friends and relatives, ask them if they used to drink this coffee-substitute back in the day.

There’s no coffee in Postum. It was developed by the Post cereal company in 1895 as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. It’s made of roasted wheat bran, wheat, and molasses.

Coffee was rationed in 1942 during World War II. Therefore Postum enjoyed a huge rise in popularity.

It tastes nothing like coffee, and some consumers describe the taste as “a flavor all its own.”

 General Foods International Coffees

Let’s give credit where credit is due. We must admit that Starbucks has truly changed the marketplace when it comes to flavored coffees.

General Foods International Coffees first appeared in the 1970’s.

Their instant coffee products were predecessors to the caramel macchiatos and gingerbread lattes we know and love today.

General Foods is now owned by the Kraft Foods Corporation.

While not exactly a flop, these products aren’t as popular today as they once were. You can still buy a handful of these instant coffee mixes.

However, many flavors have been discontinued. Kahlua Café, Amaretto Café, Double Dutch Chocolate, and Irish Mocha Mint are just some of the flavor varieties that have been shelved by the manufacturer.

And on a personal note, I have to say that my 83-year-old grandmother loves these instant hot drinks. She swears to me that there is no coffee in them. I looked up the ingredients for the French Vanilla variety, and coffee is almost last.

Retired Starbucks Drinks

Retired Starbucks Drinks

Even Starbucks has to go back to the drawing board from time to time. Have you ever tasted a Dark Barrel Latte? It’s a coffee beverage that tastes like Guinness Beer, and it wasn’t exactly a hit.

What about a Fruitcake Frappuccino? A Banana Crème Frappuccino? Or a Blackberry Green Tea Frappuccino? None of these experiments hit the mark with consumers, apparently.

As a result of these flops, it appears that even top-notch companies like Starbucks can have an off-day in the marketing department.

Are there any coffee-flavored products you have loved that have gone the way of the dinosaurs? Tell us about them in the comments!

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