Kweichow Moutai, Luckin launch alcoholic coffee drink, sparking heated public discussion
Published: Sep 04, 2023 07:26 PM
Jiangxiang Latte Photo: cnsphoto

Jiangxiang Latte Photo: cnsphoto

Chinese coffee brand Luckin, the homegrown challenger of Starbucks and other global brands, announced a strategic partnership with China's leading liquor maker, Kweichow Moutai, on Monday. The move makes Luckin the first Chinese retail brand to enter into a business partnership with the liquor giant.

On the same day, Luckin launched its first alcoholic coffee drink, the Jiangxiang Latte, which immediately went viral online. The product gained much popularity as it was put on sale at many of Luckin's chain stores in the country, the Global Times learned.

According to Luckin, every cup of Jiangxiang Latte contains Moutai, the Chinese spirit with 53 percent alcohol volume, but the coffee-beverage itself contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol.

At a Luckin store in Beijing's CBD area, people lined up, mostly to taste the Jiangxiang Latte by themselves. Online customers had to wait for more than an hour to get one of the drinks, a Global Times reporter discovered on Monday.

Some customers praised the Jiangxiang Latte for its aroma and hint of Moutai, noting that it's not as spicy as traditional liquors but rather mild, which they claim exceeding their expectations.

However, not all enjoyed the alcoholic coffee. Pei Yin, living in Beijing in her 20s, told the Global Times on Monday, "I don't like Jiangxiang Latte, perhaps because I don't enjoy the taste of liquor in it."

Jiangxiang Latte was priced at 19 yuan ($ 2.62), with Luckin offering a special sticker collection for customers ordering two or more cups.

By 10 pm on Sunday, the transaction exceeded 10 million yuan within 4 hours of the first live broadcast on the short video platform Douyin.

Some stores sold out Jiangxiang Latte Monday afternoon only hours after its launch, according to Luckin.

Topics related to Jiangxiang Latte gained over 110 million viewers and sparked over 20,000 online discussions on China's social media platform Sina Weibo as of the press time on Monday.

Despite enormous attention it has received, the new product has caused heated debates about safety for those consumers who drive after drinking it. Such concerns skyrocketed to the top of the hot search list on Weibo Monday, prompting the company to respond to public concerns.

Many netizens commented that they felt dizzy after drinking it, with some asking: "Is it considered drunk driving after drinking the new coffee?"

In response to the concerns, a customer service representative from Luckin told the Global Times on Monday that the alcohol content of Jiangxiang Latte was under 0.5 degrees. However, minors, pregnant women, drivers, and individuals with alcohol allergies were suggested to opt for other beverages.

In light of corresponding laws and regulations, if the alcohol content in the blood exceeds 20 mg/100 ml, it is considered driving under the influence of alcohol, according to media reports.

Luckin Coffee's total net revenue in the second quarter this year was 6.201 billion yuan, marking an 88 percent year-on-year increase, according to the company's latest financial report. That surpasses Starbucks' $822 million, which is approximately 5.9 billion yuan, putting Luckin ahead of the US coffee brand for the first time, according to financial reports.

Notably, this is not the first time Kweichow Moutai has ventured into non-alcohol-related industries. Developing a coffee drink is Moutai's second attempt to get closer to young consumers after previously developing an ice cream flavor.

In May 2022, Moutai and Mengniu jointly produced ice cream containing Moutai liquor. As of May 28, Moutai ice cream sold nearly 10 million cups of ice cream.

Global Times