The Coca-Cola Co. and Illycaffè  have finalised their global joint venture, kickstarting it with the launch of three premium RTD coffee products across a number of European markets.

The companies said today (27 March) that the joint venture, named Ilko Coffee International, will introduce chilled RTD espresso-based coffees including a black caffè, a cappuccino and a latte macchiato, across 10 European markets.

The caffè drink will be available in 150ml cans, while the milk variants will roll out in 200ml cans across 10 Coca-Cola Hellenic markets including Austria, Croatia, Greece and the Ukraine. Additional markets in Europe, Asia, North America, Eurasia and the Pacific are slated for expansion throughout the remainder of 2008 and into 2009 and will be delivered through the Coca-Cola system, the new JV said.

Coca-Cola Co. COO Muhtar Kent said: "When we announced the partnership between The Coca-Cola Co. and Illy a few months ago, we committed to deliver the perfect RTD espresso experience. Today, we believe we have delivered on that promise with an authentic Italian coffee experience. I look forward to this partnership delivering these great brands across the globe and enhancing our global leadership in the fast growing RTD coffee category."

Illycaffè chairman Andrea Illy added: "Coca-Cola in its history has invented entire new product categories. Illycaffè is the company that greatly contributed to the definition of the espresso category. Together we will redefine how people engage with a ready to drink coffee in order to experience a true small luxury pleasure."

Milan-based Ilko Coffee International will be led by the Coca-Cola executive Vinay Kapoor, the company confirmed.

In October, the companies said that they hoped to take advantage of Coca-Cola's distribution network and Illy's brand reputation in an effort to reach the US$10bn international RTD coffee segment as partners.

Last summer, Coca-Cola pulled its Coke and coffee drink, Coca-Cola Blak, from the US market. The coffee blend, which saw a two-year development period, was seen as the soft drinks giant's efforts at piggybacking the coffee and premium beverage category.