For a brief period in the mid-aughts, Coca-Cola was selling Coca-Cola Blak, a coffee-flavored iteration of the classic Coke. The product failed to entice customers in the U.S., so after just two years, it was discontinued. However, it appears the company may be reintroducing its caffeine concentrate, now that they believe the U.S. market is ready.
"That was a trend before its time," Nancy Quan, the company's chief technical officer told CNN Business. "I don't think people were ready to have a coffee portfolio within the Coca-Cola brand."
In recent years, Coca-Cola has been selling Coca-Cola Plus Coffee or Coca-Cola With Coffee in other countries, and it contains more real coffee and caffeine than the original Blak did. Although it may have been a non-starter in the U.S. back in 2006, the company is "pleased with the initial response" they've seen in the international markets where the drink is available—Australia, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and Poland. So pleased, in fact, that the company plans to release the product in 25 other countries by the end of 2019.
In celebration of Stranger Things Season 3, Coke partnered with Netflix to release a product known as "New Coke," which contains an alternate formula, first introduced (and failed) in 1985, in honor of the streaming service's period piece. After all, for one of the biggest companies in the world, failed projects don't necessarily mark the kiss of death.
Coca-Cola North America's senior VP of marketing, Stuart Kronauge, told CNN that this is part of a broader strategy to innovate their products. "Maybe a while ago we wouldn't have done this," he said. "But we're changing and trying to innovate in ways that are beyond traditional new products. This is a cultural innovation."
There's also been talk of a cannabis-infused Coke drink, which would be in sync with the company's cultural innovation strategy, and likely be popular in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized.