“Finlays” might not be a name Rhode Islanders immediately recognize; “Autocrat,” on the other hand, rolls off the tongue as easily as the company’s venerable coffee milk syrup washes over it. Autocrat, producers of the coffee half of coffee milk, the state’s official drink, was acquired by Finlays, an international tea and coffee extracts brand, in 2014. While the company may have global reach, they’re putting down more roots in Rhode Island with a new R&D and manufacturing facility in North Kingstown, in addition to their established offices in Lincoln. That’s right; the people who control our beloved beverage are building a state-of-the-art research and development facility in our own backyard. Welcome to the future of coffee milk.
The facility, which will be built in two phases, is expected to caffeinate the state’s GDP by $15.3 million. The R&D facility will be completed later in the year and will examine and revamp the brand’s coffee and tea extracts. The manufacturing facility is set to start construction in 2018. “This new facility will bring Finlays products to market, but will also bring good, family-supporting jobs to Rhode Island,” Governor Raimondo said in April at an event to celebrate the completion of the facility’s steel framing. “Because of our hard work reinvesting in our manufacturing industries and supporting high-skill, high-wage opportunities for our residents, global leaders like Finlays want to be here and create jobs. I’m thrilled to see another business building here in Rhode Island.”
That’s all great, but what about that most Rhode Island of drinks? Are they going to revolutionize the way we consume coffee milk? Will they freeze-dry it for consumption aboard the first manned mission to Mars? Will they be reconfiguring the bovine genome to turn boring old regular dairy cows into coffee-milk–producing super cows? The possibilities are endless… and delicious.