Covers Products: Chai Assamica, Dirty Chai Concentrate, Chai Concentrate, Coffee a la Jaggery, Coffee Neat
Austin, Texas-based Kimbala is focused on creating authentic RTD chai in both concentrate and RTD formats. The brand also features several coffee based beverages.
The current lineup includes three RTDs in 10 oz bottles, including Chai Assamica, Coffee Neat and Coffee a la Jaggery. The two concentrates in 2 oz bottles are Chai Concentrate and Dirty Chai Concentrate. Both products have a relatively short shelf life and require refrigeration.
With a focus on authenticity, Kimbala’s flagship Chai Assamica is made with Assam tea, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweetened condensed milk. They’ve nailed the classic flavor of chai and the product has notes of spice, sweet and milk. It’s mild and smooth and is definitely the highlight of the brand. The product has 140 calories and 22 grams of sugar per bottle.
When it comes to the other flavors, we really liked the Dirty Chai Concentrate, which combines coffee, jaggery (a sugar made from cane juice and dates), and chai tea and spices. This feels like a product that would be both tasty and marketable as an RTD if it were in a full size package and had sweetened condensed milk added.
The Chai Concentrate is a good addition to the lineup, especially considering this is still a very popular format (at least in the USA). However, we’re not sure that a single use container is the best packaging choice, especially for regular consumption where a multiserve would be more appropriate.
Lastly, there are the two coffee SKUs. Coffee Neat, as the name suggests, is just straight black coffee, while Coffee Jaggery adds jaggery for sweetness (50 calories and 7 grams of sugar). While we like the combination of chai and high quality coffee, these straight coffee products feel like a bit of a distraction from Kimbala’s core mission of creating an authentic chai brand.
Moving on to the branding, Kimbala uses a black and white design with an accent color that varies for each flavor. On the RTD, the primary visual element of the label is a large semicolon, which, according to the company, is meant to represent “an intention to pause and remind yourself of the strength you own and how you will use it.” We certainly appreciate this sentiment as well as their efforts to stylize it by placing a “k” (for Kimbala, presumably) and a face inside the two parts. The concentrate products do not have this visual element but otherwise follow the same approach.
The semicolon is used again in the product name, which is presented as “k;mbala.” In this case, we feel like this will just trip up consumers who are quickly trying to figure out what the product is called. From our perspective, it would be better to eliminate this and further stylize the word mark itself.
The only other visual element on the front of the bottle is the name of the SKU, which is in the previously mentioned accent color. While there isn’t necessarily any explanation required for the chai and coffees, some sort of callouts for the product’s core benefits (freshness and authentic recipes, for example) or nutritional vitals would probably help the product stand out, though we appreciate the clean design.
In the end, Kimbala has shown the ability to produce some really high quality and enjoyable products. The initial SKUs are all really well executed, but we feel that Kimbala will unlock a bigger opportunity by refining their product lineup to focus exclusively on chai.