Keith Treyball loves iced coffee, but he doesn’t love the way it mixes with granulated sugar: the top half left unsweetened, the bottom half filled with sugar crystals that never dissolved. Eventually, he got frustrated: “I just want to have my regular coffee sweet, like I would with hot coffee.”
Keith also happens to be the president of ESquared Hospitality, the company behind the celebrated BLT restaurant brands: BLT Steak, BLT Prime, BLT Burger, and BLT Bar & Grill, among others. Four years ago, he decided to use his restaurant business to tackle the iced coffee dilemma.
He approached his partner at ESquared, Jimmy Haber, with the idea for Cane Simple, an individually packaged liquid sugar that would mix easily into hot and cold beverages. Jimmy agreed it was worth pursuing, after first asking, as everyone does, “Are you sure no one’s done that before?” (They haven’t.)
The duo brought on a third partner, Reid Chase, to take over business dealings and collaborate with third-party vendors for things like R&D and packaging. They went through rounds of shelf-life testing to make sure the formula and packaging would allow for distribution — all while trying to keep costs in line.
“We had to go through all of those processes, but having ESquared Hospitality, the restaurants, as my main business — it was an unbelievable testing ground,” says Keith.