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Coke's Energy-Drink-and-Coffee Blend

Coffee by itself is apparently not "fully charged" enough. So Coca-Cola has introduced "Full Throttle Coffee," which the company describes as "a creamy coffee and energy blend" that is "set to be unleashed in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Southeast regions this month before rolling out nationally in August."

fullthrottleThe stuff sounds awful to me, but then I'm a purist: strong, hot, black Colombian Supremo is fine with me, and it gives me enough of the "kick" that Coke is promising to its targeted consumers of the brew's mixture of Arabica coffee with an "energy and vitamin blend." The company's news release promises that Full Throttle "is sure to rev up taste buds in mocha, vanilla and caramel flavors." It comes in 15-ounce aluminum cans.

I'm also way outside of Coke's targeted demographic. "Guys are increasingly looking for great-tasting beverage options that will give them the extra 'kick' they need to conquer their day," said Rafael Acevedo, the North American brand manager for Coke's energy drinks, in the news release.

Oh, I'm a guy all right. But I'm a middle-aged guy whose coffee consumption over the past couple of decades has steadily fallen from a couple of pots to a couple of cups. And I'm not looking for a coffee replacement. Coke is obviously going after the youth market here, what with all the "extreme"-sounding buzzwords and supercharged imagery -- not to mention the addition of a set of ingredients that will all but obliterate the taste of the coffee.

And only young men are apparently under the impression that sugar-packed, caffeine-heavy energy drinks will do anything other than give them a temporary lift before slamming them to the ground, forcing them to drink more of the stuff to stay awake for a few more hours, which only makes them wired and irritable. As with most energy drinks, Full Throttle contains guanara, which carries a ridiculous amount of caffeine.

I'm also not Hispanic. "Packaging for Full Throttle Coffee Caramel will be bilingual, featuring both English and Spanish," the company says. My guess is that Coke's research tells them that Hispanic guys are more interested in the mixture of coffee, caramel, and guanara than other guys (or gals) might be.

None of which is to say that this isn't a smart idea (for Coke, not for guys). Latching onto two growth markets at once â€" Hispanic consumers and energy-drink buyers â€" might help the company in its desperate efforts to expand beyond its core soft-drinks business, which is shrinking in the United States.

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