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Rise of amateur baristas could see Coke go up against SodaStream in battle for home soft drinks market


The rise and rise of self-styled amateur baristas could soon be replaced with home-taught soft drinks mixologists – if Coca-Cola gets its way.

The world’s biggest drinks company has just bought a stake in one of the world’s largest coffee machine makers, in a deal that could see the sale of the first home-brewed Coke capsules, similar to Nespresso coffee pods – as popularised by George Clooney.

Coke has spent $1.25 billion (£770 million) for a 10 per cent share of US firm The Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and bosses hope to work closely with the company as it starts to sell a cold drinks machine for the home from next year.

Busy households have become keener than ever to start brewing their own coffee at home and with people finding free time even harder to come by, pod-based coffee machines have grown in popularity.

John Lewis said that nearly two thirds of its coffee maker sales were pod machines and Christmas saw sales of the machines, all with Italian-sounding names like Tassimo and Dolce Gusto, up 58 per cent. Londoners are particularly fond of coffee machines, according to the department store, with one in three sold within the M25.

Rob Hennessey, senior buyer for small electricals at John Lewis, explained: “Coffee culture has definitely become a big trend in the UK and there is continued demand for creating that coffee shop experience at home.

“Our customers take coffee making seriously and view it as a hobby, so they’re looking for a machine which will allow them to become a home barista.”

Overall, the market for coffee making has soared, especially with coffee pods. According to Kantar, £56.1 million was spent on the pods last year alone, or 186 million individual pods.

The demand appears to be there and would explain why Coca-Cola is so keen to become part of the craze for home brewing.

Jamie Mills, an analyst at Datamonitor, explained that in the past, pods had been too perfunctory and charmless, but this has been changing.

“Consumers increasingly associate pods with sophistication, given their price as well as the cost of the systems themselves,” she said.

“Therefore by transferring the pod system to soft drinks, Coca-Cola is effectively premiumising the product, differentiating it from the competing SodaStream brand, which is a more manual, ‘cheaper’ experience.”

SodaStream would be the biggest rival to Green Mountain’s machine, but it has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons, when its new spokesperson – American movie actress Scarlett Johansson – and Oxfam parted company over the firm’s use of production plants in the West Bank.