New York-based home coffee equipment startup Cumulus Coffee Company announced today that it raised $20.3 million in seed funding while preparing to bring its home cold coffee machine to market.
Among the list of investors is longtime Starbucks CEO and President Howard Schultz, who left the Seattle-based coffee giant company in March. The amount of Schultz’s investment has not been disclosed.
Along with the funding announcement, Cumulus Coffee officially launched pre-sales of its $599 countertop cold coffee brewing machine. According to the company, the machine can produce each of three drink types — still cold coffee, nitro cold coffee, or a espresso-like cold coffee — within seconds.
The machine uses single-serve, single-use aluminum pods, which along with the machines are expected to be available next summer. The company notes that the pods are recyclable. However, recent studies have shown that actual recycling rates of single-use coffee pods are low.
The Cumulus machine includes a removable water reservoir, and the company says it offers proprietary “cold cloud technology” that can produce nitro coffee — characterized by a silkier mouthfeel and micro bubbles — without the need for a cartridge.
The machine presents a speedy alternative to traditional cold-brewing methods, which often require long periods of steeping coffee grounds in water followed by filtration. In the single-use, single-serve segment — as popularized by brands such as Keurig and Nespresso — existing solutions for cold coffee typically involve brewing somewhat less hot coffee over ice.
“Coffee has experienced a significant shift over the past few years as consumers have overwhelmingly switched to cold versus hot coffee,” Schultz, who remains chairman emeritus of Starbucks, said in an announcement from Cumulus today. “Cumulus’ opportunity to bring premium cold coffee beverages to the home is simply enormous and will raise the bar for cold brew coffee everywhere.”
The Cumulus Coffee Company was founded by Mesh Gelman, who previously held leadership roles at Starbucks for approximately six years.
The $20.3 million seed round was led by Valor Siren Ventures and related firm Valor Equity Partners, with participation from other individual investors and firms. Valor Siren Ventures was created with “anchor investments” from Starbucks, Nestlé and “a suite of Fortune 500 food and retail organizations,” according to the company’s marketing materials.
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