Made in Michigan: A new latte sold in supermarket dairy cases

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Norton Shores (WJRT) (9/27/17) - It seems there's a coffee shop on every corner these day, offering a variety of flavors. But there's a new coffee available in supermarket dairy cases so you can bring it home and drink it any time you want and it's made in Michigan.

This is where they make LaColombe draft latte, a specialty coffee. They've been making it here at a former yogurt plant in the Muskegon County community of Norton Shores since January. While the coffee beans come from around the world, the milk comes from west Michigan.

"We chose Michigan first and foremost because of its access to the highest quality milk," said Frank Eden, LaColombe director of products.

There are several dairy farms in the area of the plant and they get the milk to the plant in a hurry.

"We actually work with them directly on the supply we get to make sure it's fresh," said Jason Murray, LaColombe plant manager.

LaColombe has been around as a coffee roaster since 1994 but it was only recently it perfected a canned latte.

"In the last two years we've sort of identified that the future of coffee is mobile and we think it's also cold," said Eden.

The company had to develop a way to make the latte frothy.

"In fact we have a valve on the bottom of the can that allows us to inject nitrous oxide into the can and give it a creamy, frothy taste. That's one of the critical factors in our success," said Eden.

Another feature that set LaColombe apart is the plastic sip-through lid.

"Customer's avoid the taste of metal to their mouths," said Eden.

There are nine varieties of LaColombe draft latte. Other flavors are being tested. They come in nine ounce cans.When they were developing canned coffee, they thought it might appeal to millennials, but now they are setting their sights higher.

"Our goal is to put this coffee into the hands of everyone across the country who likes coffee," said Eden.

About 75 people work at the west Michigan plant.

"I love working here. It's more like a family oriented company and they actually care about what they make and who works for them," Jennifer Branham, an employee.

Right now they turn out about four million cans a month, but that will be increasing.

"At its full capacity we think it can handle about a quarter of a billion cans a year," said Eden.

LaColombe draft latte is available at Meijer and Target stores. A two-pack sells for $5.00.

"It's a good feeling to think about something that we make here locally and see it in the store," Murray said.

The company is looking to expand it's marketing footprint.

"People respond to quality and I think that's what we're going for," said Eden.

And apparently customers are going for a cold-brewed latte that's made in Michigan.

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