Diageo Picks Up Mr. Black, An Australian-Made Coffee Spirit.


The espresso martini craze isn’t ceasing, and Diageo acquires a cold brew liqueur, made with a … [+] bittersweet blend of top-grade Arabica coffees and Australian wheat vodka.


Amidst espresso martini’s comeback, Diageo today announced the acquisition Mr Black, a premium cold brew liqueur out of Australia and the fastest-growing coffee liqueur in the United States. The amount of purchase was not disclosed.

The brand was founded in 2013 by designer Tom Baker and distiller Philip Moore, of Distillery Botanica.

The concept behind the brand was to bring Australia’s robust coffee culture into the spirits sector. The recipe calls for a bittersweet blend of top-grade Arabica coffees and Australian wheat vodka with no added flavors. Each bottle is made by hand at their distillery-slash-roastery in Sydney.

“With its award-winning liquid, eye-catching design and packaging, and ability to thrive in culture, we believe Mr Black is just getting started in the dynamic coffee liqueur segment,” says Claudia Schubert, President of U.S. Spirits and Canada, Diageo. “This acquisition is in line with our strategy to acquire high-growth brands in exciting categories and we are delighted to welcome Mr Black into our portfolio.”

The coffee liqueur brand has been on Diageo’s radar since 2015, when it received support from Distill Ventures, the spirits giant’s accelerator program.

“It was love at first taste with Mr Black, and Tom Baker is one of the most intuitive brand builders we’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said Frank Lampen, CEO and Co-founder, Distill Ventures. “I’m proud to have helped him and his team turn those solid foundations into a commercial success globally and especially in the US.”

Founder Baker will remain involved with the brand after the acquisition.

“Coffee is more than just a drink – it’s a culture, ritual, obsession, aesthetic, experience, tradition and a community,” Baker said in a statement. “We created Mr Black to embody that culture and inspire people to take their love of coffee into their evening drinks. Diageo understood our vision early on and now, after several years with them as a supporter, we are thrilled to be joining the Diageo family.”

After launching in the states, the cold brew liqueur quickly took the lead as the top-selling premium-priced coffee liqueur in the US market. Its success has sparked major brands to follow suit with similar coffee-leaning products; think Jameson’s Cold Brew. Pabst Blue Ribbon’s vanilla iced coffee, Jägermeister’s cold-brew riff, and Golden Rule Spirits’ espresso martini.

Beyond its flagship bottle, Mr Black has expanded product offerings to include limited-edition liqueurs, including expressions aged in mezcal casks, Whistlepig rye casks, and Bundaberg rum casks.

The brand is now available in 22 countries. While Australia and the UK are prominent markets, Mr Black has found the most success in the US market. The liqueur is served at top bars, including Dante and Broken Shaker.

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