It’s no secret that functional beverages have created quite a buzz in recent months. Brands like Ellianos Coffee, Ziggi’s Coffee, and Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii have all revitalized their menu with energy drink infusions to boost sales, attract new consumers, and increase diversification. 

According to Statista, the energy drink market hit $159 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $233 billion by 2027. 

Ellianos, a drive-thru chain founded in 2002 by Scott and Pam Stewart, is ready to meet the demands of busy Americans in a different way.

In early April, the brand announced its new plant-based energy drink in partnership with Lotus Energy Drinks. The Ellianos Edge comes in six fruity flavors, such as Razzleberry and Mango Tango.

While Ellianos has offered a Red Bull-infused concoction for the past two years, Greg Pruitt, vice president of marketing and strategic communications, says the brand wanted to expand into different taste profiles. Red Bull’s distinct flavor prohibited this. 

“The good thing about [Lotus] energy bases are that they don’t have much flavor, which allows you to create more combinations,” Pruitt says. “So, you can make things like piña colada and blue raspberry. They are very vibrant and exciting.”

Since launching the Ellianos Edge drinks, sales have spiked by 22 percent. Pruitt says it’s not just the energy drinks surging in sales—it’s all of their products, from coffee to breakfast sandwiches. 

Ellianos is not the only chain to experience an uptick in revenue from blending energy drinks into the menu. 

Bad Ass Coffee, known for its premium Hawaiian coffees, introduced energy drink infusions to its lineup of products as well. Also powered by Lotus, the new handcrafted beverages (called Mana) add to the brand’s unique experience. 

Flavors include Sunrise Swell, Reef Racer, and Pipeline Plunge. According to the company’s website, these new flavors offer customers a “natural wave of energy” that will keep them going throughout the day.

Bad Ass Coffee CMO Chris Ruszkowski shares that the new drinks are “opening up the door for cross-selling to get a better check average.” 

The chain is also seeing an upward trend in guest visitation at various times of day. The marketing executive has noticed that while energy infusions sell from morning to close, they tend to bring in more guests during the afternoon. 

For Ruszkowski, the trickle-down effect of the beverage additions will create new consumer opportunities, and he sees it playing a role in the brand’s evolution as a premium coffee shop. 

“Customers want to take a break from their day to get something that’s handcrafted and going to recharge them,” Ruszkowski says. “They are finding reasons to come later in the day … There are a lot of extended benefits to that daypart growth.” 

Meanwhile, Ziggi’s sees the addition of handcrafted energy drinks as a way to give back to a growing guest base. 

On April 14, the brand revealed the launch of Ziggi’s Energy and Ziggi’s Energy Zero Sugar, with five flavors, such as Cosmic Blast and Shock Melon.

Ziggi’s CEO Brandon Knudsen says the goal was initially to make the beverage more approachable. Much of that is about price. At $2 a drink, the item is budget-friendly amidst a time of tightening wallets and heavy inflation. By switching to its own branded energy, Knudsen believes this strategy is not only cost-efficient but makes Ziggi’s stand out in a bolstering market. 

This move has proven successful, with Knudsen saying there has been a 25 percent increase in units sold since the launch. Like Bad Ass Coffee, Ziggi’s has also noticed daypart growth, especially between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Statistics found that 51 percent of guests who bought three or more signature coffees also purchased three or more energy drinks. Between new customers and old-time coffee enthusiasts, interest in the new beverages remains high. 

“It has added folks in the morning, but we’re selling the same amount of energy all day long,” Knudsen says. “Our loyal customers are coming back and drinking energy, so that’s really exciting. It’s been great for business all around.”

The goal is to make Ziggi’s Energy 25 percent of all business. 

“It’s so new, and customers love our approachable pricing,” says Knudsen. “I believe within the next couple years, this should be our number one item.” 

For Ellianos, the goal is to create more promotions surrounding the new product. In July, the brand released a frozen version of Ellianos Edge, as well as new summer flavors.

In addition to current flavors, two more are in the works, and Pruitt is looking forward to making frozen drinks permanent. 

Bad Ass Coffee, like Ziggi’s and Ellianos, is continuing to innovate in the energy drink category and entice customers both young and old to enjoy a handcrafted experience instead of a RTD grab-and-go. 

All three brands have noticed the benefits of vitalizing menus, rounding out customer bases, and surprising guests with vivid flavors and colors. 

But Ruszkowski has never been surprised by the sudden leap to energy drinks: “This is all so natural [to us]. The fact is, we have been in the energy business since we started 30 years ago. There is a natural connection to the launch of our energy products and people wanting to get charged.”

Beverage, Fast Casual, Menu Innovations, Story, Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii, Ziggi's Coffee