Mike on America

Here's A Shock! (Of Coffee That Is)

Shock Coffee

"And there are hundreds of small roasters that roast for convenience stores and coffee shops, and they've mimicked our brand. I mean, competition, is it good? I don't like it, I don't need it." So says Jeff Rosen as he and I stand in his Woodside, New York warehouse.

He says it with a rye smile. He's the President and founder of Shock Coffee, and he's a little bit Eyore from Winnie the Pooh and allot of hard nosed businessman. "I've been knocked down in this business so many times, I've been knocked flat on my face. I had to start over. It takes time."

What's taken more time than he thought it would has been to grow his latest company. By most measures Shock is a success. It's available in over 8,000 locations across the U.S. and in two countries overseas, Australia and Greece. It's a concept that is very 2007. Shock is 'hyper-caffeinated' coffee, up to 50 per cent more caffeine in every cup. It's a marriage of energy drinks and a cupa joe, and it was Rosen's idea, or at least he was the one who found the small roaster in California that was doing something similar and bought them out.

When it hit the market the concept got all manner of press coverage, both in the popular media and across the industry. What a great idea! So good actually that the biggest players in the multi-billion dollar coffee business thought they'd do it too. They did. You've seen it, maybe even had it. Which has left Rosen where exactly?

Well, right now he's in Concord, North Carolina at S&D Coffee. That's the company that buys, blends and roasts Shock. They also do McDonalds and Dunkin' Doughnuts. "I made some mistakes in the beginning. I had to change distributors, we got off to a slow start. Anybody listening out there, if you're thinking about starting your own business, it ain't easy. But now we're on track."

So much so that he figures that in 3 to 5 years he can be the 'Red Bull' of the coffee industry. And if he were to start the whole thing over again, what would he do differently?

"Definitely go under the radar. Unless you have a patent or a patent pending product, you're not protected. There are lots of good ideas out there, ways to make lots of money. You have to recognize them. Just don't talk about them too soon."

He's smiling. I think. I'll have another cup, how about you?

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com