Premium coffee-infused liqueur, Jumping Goat, was founded in New Zealand by former world-ranked squash player Callum O’Brien, and after a number of years of seeing it as a side project, it’s now a full focus for Callum and with the huge growth it’s enjoying, it needs to be.
In 2021 the brand saw 50 per cent growth in 2021 and this year Jumping Goat has produced over 70,000 bottles for circulation, which is projected to double in 2023 to over 140,000.
So what’s changed?
Callum told The Shout: “It’s always been a little bit of a side project for me, but in the last few years it’s kind of taken off and so it’s moved into that world where it’s not really a side project, I need to spend more and more time on it.
“And as I’ve opened up that time to spend on it I’ve focused on getting really good partners and distributors and working on that side. Plus we’ve really focused on getting the brand, the story and the bottle bang on and that’s all working pretty well now.
“Plus I just think there’s been a worldwide growth in the love of coffee. I read the other day that in the US Espresso Martini is the number two cocktail on Google, so coffee and alcohol is really becoming something that people are understanding and it’s a big thing now.”
The idea for Jumping Goat was seeded not long after a hip injury ended Callum’s squash career and he and his ex-squash manager decided to channel their energy into opening a bar, Viaduct, in Auckland.
“I was very hands on behind the bar and I was working a lot of late nights, and learning because I knew nothing about hospo,” Callum said. “Quite often I would make myself an espresso and do a shot of espresso with a shot of vodka or whisky, just something to go with it. That led to me thinking that in Australia and New Zealand there was this booming coffee culture and it’s so cool and vibrant and fun and there’s lots of cool people involved, but then you look at the coffee liqueur world and there’s probably two brands and they’ve been around forever and they don’t really represent what espresso coffee is.
“So I just thought, surely it’s not that hard to put that in a bottle.”
Famous last words.
“It was either ingenuity or stupidity, not sure what you’d call it. I bought a little coffee machine and some cheap vodka, it was one of those machines where you put the water in the bucket on the back, so I just filled it with vodka. Then that went over my coffee grounds and I filled up this bottle of espresso vodka and it was easy.
“But that’s about where the idea came unstuck because me and a friend had a nice drink, but it was horrendous. I just remember the next morning there was just a taste of burnt coffee, so I knew I had to get the taste better.”
What followed was a period of coffee and vodka exploration for Callum, working with cold brews, reducing acidity, trying to get the vodka smoother, all things to help improve the overall taste of the product.
He told The Shout: “We got to a point around 2014 where I thought this was cool and I started going round a few bars, but you know I found a bottle from those days in a bar a couple of years ago and comparing what we have now to what we had then, it’s really developed over time and it’s won a few awards and people generally love it.”
It’s now at 33 per cent ABV, the vodka is charcoal filtered to help make that smoother and the process around the cold brew coffee is more refined, making that a lot smoother and cleaner.
So how are people drinking it?
“The Espresso Martini is obviously a massive part of our business,” Callum said, “but then also a lot of people use Jumping Goat as a shot. These late night venues in places like Queenstown are huge places for the brand. All the hospo people are right behind the brand, they are using it in their cocktails and they push it as a late night shot.
“And that’s great for the brand, these are vibrant places and Jumping Goat is playful we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But it’s really going well for us in late night cocktail bars across New Zealand we find these small suburban little local hangouts can be some of our biggest sellers and it’s just people really getting behind the brand and its quality.
“And that would be my main message to the trade, if you like coffee you are going to like Jumping Goat. And if you think of other coffee shot products we’ve got more caffeine, the same ABV and about half the sugar, plus we just use really good ingredients. It’s real coffee and it uses a shitload of coffee.”
Jumping Goat is distributed via Deeds Group to Australia’s on-premise, contact your local representative to find out more.