Minneapolis / St. Paul Business
Micro-distillery Dashfire is adding three
new canned “hard coffee” drinks to its
lineup of bitters, liqueurs and ready-todrink
Owner Lee Egbert said Café Dashfire is, as
far as he knows, the first line of hard
coffees produced in Minnesota. They’re set
to hit the state’s liquor stores this month.
The combination of booze and coffee is
trending with consumers. An article in the
September issue of Beverage Industry, a
trade magazine, highlighted recent data compiled by research firm Nielsen
that showed hard coffee sales totaled $18.9 million in the U.S. for the 52-
week period ending July 18, an 11,000% increase from the same period a
Sold in individual 200ml cans, Dashfire’s hard coffees clock in at 14%
alcohol by volume and contain varying amounts of caffeine, typically less
than the amount in a cup of coffee. Developed with input from Minneapolisbased
Five Watt Coffee, flavors include Rum Café Mocha, Rum Golden Latte
and Bourbon Cold Brew.
Founded in 2012, Minnetonka-based Dashfire’s early focus was bitters —
botanicals infused into an alcohol base that add a dash of flavor to
cocktails. The family-run company later added a line of ready-to-drink craft
cocktails, available in both 100ml cans and 750ml bottles.
Egbert said sales of Dashfire’s ready-to-drink cocktails overtook bitters last
“Our core business changed overnight,” he said. “… Credibility and being
able to do quality are the checkmarks you need to hit in order to do this.
Bartenders have known us. We’ve been trusted in terms of cocktails for a
Those pre-mixed cocktails have also helped Dashfire weather the pandemic.
Much of the company’s bitters were sold to the bar and restaurant industry,
and revenue from that side of the business took a big hit earlier this year
when restaurants across the country either closed or changed the way they
operate to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Egbert said ready-to-drink cocktail sales also slowed for a time, a
phenomenon he chalks up to shoppers choosing curbside pickup over instore
purchases, particularly in the early phases of Minnesota’s pandemic
response. Dashfire’s canned cocktails are often found near the checkout,
making them an easy impulse purchase. Egbert said their canned cocktails
also benefit from retailers who like the drinks hand-selling them to
Dashfire was expecting significant growth in ready-to-drink cocktail sales
this year. Taking the pandemic into account, Egbert said, “We’re probably
sitting very similar to where we were last year at this point.”
But there’s still time for Café Dashfire to boost the company’s 2020
performance, and Egbert predicted they could be the key to his business
growing through a difficult year.
“I think the coffees are actually going to put us in a positive light for the
year,” he said.