This innovative RTD hot gourmet coffee relies on a systems approach to make it work using a “hot fridge” HotBox and insulated aluminum cans.
There have been several ups (HeaterMeals and HeatGenie) and downs (Wolfgang Puck Self-Heating Latte) over the years as marketers and inventors aim to provide a packaged product that self-heats at the time of use for on-the-go and away-from home convenience. The methods have been inventive and clever with an occasional misfire so to speak as noted.
The latest invention, HotShot, is an intriguing twist on this niche that puts the packaging in the heater rather than the heater in the packaging.
The idea is that the cans of ready-to-drink (RTD) gourmet coffee are stored in an innovative hot fridge, the HotBox, that keeps them at the optimum 140 deg F. The cans are heated by conductive heating from the HotBox through the bare can bottom (see image on the next page). Consumers simply open the HotBox, which can store up to 9 cans, and remove a preheated can.
HotShot has several things going for it that make it a hot, atypical introduction including the fact it is a supported by a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. That campaign offers 9 levels of support, from $30 for 12 cans of product (sans HotBox) while a distributor pledge level of $900 or more earns 10 hotBoxes and 120 cans. As of 4PM on March 26, the campaign was 5% funded with $4,538 pledged of the $100,000 goal with 47 days to go.
"After a trip to Japan in 2009, I discovered hot fridges and ready-to-drink hot coffee," says Danny Grossfeld, the founder of HotShot. "After extensive research and more than $1 million in investment to optimize the product, package and HotBox offering, HotShot is a product that has been adapted from the proven formula in Japan to fit American tastes."
Read more about the packaging and the HotBox "hot fridge" on the next page
The all-critical packaging component of the product’s proposition is the use of aluminum cans with insulated full-body labels that allow consumers to comfortably hold a hot beverage.
As stated at the kickstarter page: “In order to keep our HotShots at the perfect drinking temperature without burning your hands, we've developed a revolutionary insulated label. Not unlike a drink cozy, the simple material keeps your coffee hot and your hands cool.”
Presumably made of expanded polystyrene or other foamed polymer, the full-wrap label enrobes the aluminum can body which, as is noted, can be easily recycled after the label is removed. The copy then takes a pot-shot at an alternative, the K-cup, stating that “more than 9 billion K-cups were landfilled last year.”
There also a cautionary warning about the use of the product as intended: “HotShot cans can only be heated inside our HotBox units. Do not attempt to heat cans in microwave, oven, stove top or any other way. We cannot guarantee safety, quality or integrity of the product and packaging if heated without the HotBox.”
The product comes in four flavors, including hot chocolate. “Refills” are available in trayed 12-packs of single or mixed flavors.