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US: Mars Drinks launches functional coffee

Steel Horse Coffee will be available exclusively through Mars Drinks single-serve Flavia Freshpacks for use in its foodservice Flavia brewers.

“We aim to develop products that help support some of the most important elements of a company’s workforce: energy and focus,” said Xavier Unkovic, regional president, Mars Drinks. “With this notion, we developed a revolutionary hot drink that did more than a cup of coffee by adding circulation-supporting cocoa flavanols.”

Mars Drinks says it sees huge global potential for single-serve hot drinks machines and consumables in the high-growth office environment, and predicts ‘tremendous growth’ in emerging markets.


Speaking to after the firm launched Steel Horse Coffee – a powder-based beverage with 150mg of added cocoa flavanols per serving, Brian Miller, VP sales and marketing for Mars Drinks North America, said it took nearly 12 months to develop the new functional coffee.

Steel Horse Coffee was launched this spring through Mars Drinks’ single-serve hot drinks system, and the firm says the beverage encourages workplace productivity, by pairing coffee (for mental clarity, alertness) with circulation-supporting cocoa flavanols (phytonutrients derived from cocoa beans).

Consumer feedback had been “overwhelmingly positive”, Miller insisted, with the majority of consumers expressing their preference for a “bold and hearty coffee with notes of dark cocoa and molasses”.

Development challenges for Steel Horse Coffee involved selection of the right coffee base for sensory acceptance, Miller explained, while the biggest challenge was handling the high flavanol cocoa extract (which is a fine powder) as well as ensuring even blending with the coffee.

“The unique mixture of flavanols naturally found in cocoa is available in no other food. However, these cocoa flavanols are easily destroyed during normal processing,” Miller explained.

So to protect the cocoa flavanols and retain their health benefits, Mars Drinks patented a proprietary processing technique called CocoaPro, to extract them from the cocoa bean preserve them in the highest possible concentration.


Understandably, Miller was tight-lipped about how this process works, but he said it begins as soon as the beans are harvest and continues throughout the production process until the final cocoa extract is produced.

Mars Drinks has no plans to extend Steel Horse coffee into retail channels, given that its single-serve Flavia brewing systems are solely designed for the office environment, with the coffee created “to help fuel office productivity through the combination of coffee and cocoa flavanols”….. Read the full article