As the COVID-19 pandemic closed businesses and kept people at home, The Coffee Ethic owner Michelle Billionis wanted to find a way to get her product to customers. Creating ready-to-drink lattes in bottles that could be shipped and delivered was the end result. Billionis and her team are still making and selling them today. With more flavors in development, her goal is to see the downtown coffee shop’s product in stores around Springfield.
SBJ: How did you get the idea for this product?
Michelle Billionis: People love coffee and need coffee; it’s just a comfort. People during COVID could not come to us and get their coffee. We wanted to get it to them. It just made sense to try and make this portable. My team and I put our heads together and figured out a way to make it happen, so COVID was the sole reason we started that.
SBJ: Are there plans to make more ready-to-drink lattes in bottles?
Billionis: We have some seasonal ones. We’ve done mint mocha for Christmas, a date latte during Valentine’s Day and we’ve done chai in a bottle, but we don’t have those consistently. The two we do consistently are the Remedy Cold Brew and the Spiced Vanilla Oat Latte. We are waiting on equipment to do it more efficiently – probably won’t be until end of 2023, beginning of 2024.
SBJ: How long does it take to come up with a ready-to-drink recipe?
Billionis: The staff gets together and starts talking about what flavors we want to do for the next season. For the Spiced Vanilla Oat Latte, it was part of our seasonal draft latte. We liked it so much that we bottled it. It was so popular, people kept asking for it. We come up with that stuff as a team; we knew we had to get this out to the people.
SBJ: Why was it important to keep most of the materials needed for the product local? Where do you source your materials?
Billionis: It’s important to me to keep money local, and it’s just fun to partner with a fellow small business. Additionally, the carbon footprint and the accessibility. You can call today, maybe get (the bottles) tomorrow. We source bottles from Mother’s Brewing Co. We were trying to do something quickly and locally, so we started buying bottles from them.
SBJ: Do you have expansion plans and what are your goals for your product?
Billionis: Whether it’s bottles or cans, we’re exploring all of that right now to reach that goal of seeing our product in every grocery store or convenience store in Springfield at least. Maybe even every bar. I can see it being an option for people who don’t want to drink. We’re also thinking about adding decaf to that for people who don’t want to drink caffeine. We want people to have a local product they can just grab and go with.
SBJ: How has this product affected your business?
Billionis: It’s expanded our wholesale options. People really seem to love something that’s prepackaged. Sometimes when we’re catering, it’s easy to bring some of those and then the line doesn’t get really long; it’s just quick and easy to serve to someone.
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