This Coffee Shop Sold Organic Half & Half Instead of Coffee

Organic Half-and-Half makes great coffee... According to Organic Authority.

You may be used to thinking of Organic Valley as an organic dairy company. Well, the company wanted to make some waves in the coffee world, so it quietly opened a pop-up coffee shop in New York City. Doesn’t sound very exciting? How about this: the shop only sold its organic half & half, and gave away coffee. Right? They had us at “free coffee,” too.

The story

It all started when Gerrit van Tol, an Organic Valley dairy farmer, came up with a crazy idea. Van Tol thought it would be fun to demonstrate that coffee only becomes great when combined—or mixed—with milk from pasture-raised cows.

To prove his point, he opened NoLita, an Organic Valley Coffee Shop, in the NoLita neighborhood of lower Manhattan, and served organic half & half in three sizes—Lil Bit, Double, and Lotta—for $2. After customers purchased their half & half, they could get coffee for free at a condiment table.

“People who love a rich and creamy cup of joe have been using Organic Valley Half & Half to make the best cup of coffee for over 20 years,” van Tol says. “But at most coffee shops you have no idea what kind of cream you’re pouring into your coffee, or if it’s even organic. It just made sense that we should have our own coffee shop that focuses on what we think is the most important ingredient.”

About the campaign

Although this campaign did prove a point, the people behind it also had a lot of fun poking fun at the often up-tight artisanal coffee trend.

“It’s pretty obvious coffee culture has become a parody of itself, considering how seriously it takes itself,” David Littlejohn, creative chief at Humanaut, who crafted the campaign, tells Adweek. “The truth is, Organic Valley dairy farmers have the same amount of craft and passion for their product, but they would never talk about organic milk with the same level of pretension. We knew there was a funny tension between farmers and baristas we could play with.”

While a lot of the sites covering this story are making fun of the “hipsters” who “bought into” the stunt, we still think the idea is interesting. And it would be refreshing if more coffee shops took pride in all the ingredients they use to make their fancy drinks. After all, coffee shouldn’t get all the praise.

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Image of people at coffee shop via Shutterstock