They think it's the best way to get young people to buy their brand

By Rebecca Firkser
February 22, 2018
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Folgers Coffee is pure 1980s gold, but it’s not the 80s anymore. Coffee is no longer just the sludge you suck down to wake yourself up, and Folgers has taken notice. In attempt to make the brand a contender in the third wave coffee world, as well as for those who live off of coffee from pods, Folgers launched “1850 by Folgers,” a new blend of artisanal coffee, available by the pound and the pod.

According to Statista, Folgers was the highest selling ground coffee brand in 2017, selling about $1.18 billion in coffee—more than double in profits made by Maxwell House and Starbucks. However, unlike many types of artisanal coffee beans, Folgers is still not seen as something to be coveted, and 1850 hopes to change that fact.

“‘1850’ allows us to build on our market-leading position in the at-home coffee category by strengthening our presence in premium, one-cup, and ready to drink iced coffees, the fastest-growing product segments," said Mark Smucker, President and Chief Executive Officer of The J.M. Smucker Company, which owns Folgers, in a press release. "1850 also validates our new approach to innovation… This is central to our strategy of driving long-term growth while delivering an outstanding experience for consumers.”

Folgers may not be the coolest coffee brand on the market, but the company does have a rich history. James Folger, who came to California to looking for gold (he didn’t find any), began working for The Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills in the early 1850s. Just a few years later, Folger bought out the company, renaming it J.A. Folger & Co., which eventually became the Folger Coffee Company. The team behind the “1850” line want to highlight Folgers’ backstory and antiquey quality (prepack bags of “1850” will apparently be closed with a waxed seal), which they believe is key to attracting millennial customers.

“Today's consumer, particularly millennials, gravitate to brands that have an authentic story to tell,” said Joe Stanziano, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Coffee of The J. M. Smucker Company.

Of course, it’s not just about the packaging. “1850” is a darker, richer roast than the classic Folgers brew, made from fire-roasted and steel cut Arabica coffee beans.

“We wanted a bold coffee to address younger consumers' preference for stronger coffee, but we also wanted a smooth coffee that isn't bitter. said Mark Smucker.

“1850” is expected to be available for sale in April.