Diageo has acquired Australian premium cold brew coffee liqueur Mr Black. Over the last five years, Mr Black has been the fastest growing brand in the global coffee liqueur category and is now available in 22 countries.
Mr Black was launched in 2013 by designer Tom Baker and award-winning distiller Philip Moore, with the vision of bringing the global coffee culture to the world of spirits and cocktails. The brand sources and roasts coffee to its own bespoke specification and has grown to become the leading premium-priced coffee liqueur in the United States, tapping into consumer desire for premium coffee cocktails such as the espresso martini.
Diageo Australia Managing Director Angus McPherson said the deal was another example of the Australian spirits industry showing its potential for exponential growth and as a leading export category for the Australian economy.
“Mr Black, from its NSW Central Coast home, has grown to become not only an Australian bar staple, but also the United States’ leading premium-priced coffee liqueur,” he said.
“The Australian spirits industry is so dynamic right now. Not only have we seen Australian distilleries grow from just 28 to more than 400 since 2014, but we’re also seeing Australian spirits brands receive widespread international acclaim and expansion of Australian spirits in overseas markets.
“It’s wonderful to see Mr Black become part of Diageo’s incredible line up of the world’s best spirits alongside another Australian icon, Bundaberg Rum.
“The Mr Black acquisition is the fourth Distill Ventures program exit to Diageo and the first Australian brand to do so which is hugely exciting.”
In 2015, Diageo acquired a minority stake in Mr Black through Distill Ventures, the Diageo-backed accelerator program. Distill Ventures receives funding from Diageo and works with the company to support entrepreneurs as they launch and grow innovative drinks brands.
The collaboration included Mr Black joining forces with Bundaberg Rum to launch a limited edition Mr Black Rum Barrel Aged Coffee Liqueur last year.
Co-founder Tom Baker will remain actively involved with the brand, working with the Diageo team to build on Mr Black’s success.
Claudia Schubert, President, US Spirits and Canada, Diageo said:“With its award-winning liquid, eye-catching design and packaging, and ability to thrive in culture, we believe Mr Black is just getting started in the dynamic coffee liqueur segment. This acquisition is in line with our strategy to acquire high growth brands in exciting categories, and we are delighted to welcome Mr Black into our portfolio.”
Baker said it was an “exciting (and pretty surreal) day for the brand, the Mr Black dream team and for myself and Phil”.
“Coffee is more than just a drink – it’s a culture, ritual, obsession, aesthetic, experience, tradition and a community,” he said.
“We created Mr Black to embody that culture and inspire people to take their love of coffee into their evening drinks. Diageo understood our vision early on and now, after several years with them as a supporter, we are thrilled to be joining the Diageo family.”
Frank Lampen, CEO and Co-founder, Distill Ventures said: “It was love at first taste with Mr Black, and Tom Baker is one of the most intuitive brand builders we’ve had the pleasure of working with. We’re proud to have helped him and his team turn those solid foundations into a commercial success globally and especially in the US.”