OnTech says it has no direct evidence of cans' exploding or otherwise malfunctioning. "The cans do not explode," said Jonathan Weisz, its chief executive.
"This is a commercial dispute. The highest number of complaints we've gotten is people saying the coffee didn't heat up fast enough."
Mr. Weisz says that WP Beverage Partners owes his company $1 million and that in February he sent a letter to the company terminating the contract for OnTech to supply the self-heating technology for Wolfgang Puck products.
In March, OnTech sued WP Beverage Partners in a California state court to recover the $1 million. Mark Miles, a lawyer at the firm of Callahan & Blaine representing WP Beverage Partners, says the company plans to file its own suit against OnTech next week, contending that OnTech started using cheaper plastic for the cans starting last September.
Bob Groux, managing partner of WP Beverage Partners, said he had collected 917 written complaints from consumers, some 1,000 phone calls and more than 300 return authorizations from retailers who said customers complained that the cans were too hot, too cold or that they otherwise malfunctioned. The company also sells chilled coffee beverages under the Wolfgang Puck name.
The problems with the latte were reported on Friday by BevNET.com, a Web site that covers the beverage industry.
One customer, Kandi McElhannon, an accounts manager for a trucking company in Nashville, says that in January, she took a gulp of a Wolfgang Puck latte and got an intense burning sensation in her throat from leaking calcium oxide. "My husband thought I was choking," she said. "I started drinking lots and lots of water."
Ms. McElhannon, 34, said she suffered no permanent or serious damage.
Safeway and Kroger did not respond to inquiries about whether they had removed the Wolfgang Puck lattes from their shelves. A spokesman for Sam's Club, Olan James, said the warehouse-store chain did "not have knowledge of a recall" and was still selling the product.
OnTech also licenses its technology to another brand of self-heating coffee, Hillside, and plans to use the cans for oatmeal, soup and even baby food, Mr. Weisz, the chief executive, said. On its Web site, the company says that approximately $20 million has been invested to develop the technology.
But one beverage industry expert says that self-heating coffee was never going to be a booming business. "This package was an interesting novelty, but was never going to be a big idea," said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest. "It's not exactly hard to find a hot cup of coffee in America."Continue reading the main story
Exothermic reactions transfer energy to the surroundings. Endothermic reactions take in energy from the surroundings.
Reversible reactions are where the products can react to remake the original reactants. If the forward reaction is exothermic, the reverse reaction is endothermic.
When a chemical reaction occurs, energy is transferred to or from the surroundings - and there is often a temperature change.
Exothermic reactions transfer energy to the surroundings. The energy is usually transferred as heat energy, causing the reaction mixture and its surroundings to become hotter. The temperature increase can be detected using a thermometer. Some examples of exothermic reactions are:
- Combustion (burning)
- Many oxidation reactions, for example rusting
- Neutralisationneutralisation: Neutralisation is the reaction between an acid and a base to form a salt plus water. reactions between acids and alkalis
When a flame burns it transfers heat to its surroundings.
Exothermic reactions can be used for everyday purposes. For example, hand warmers and self-heating cans for drinks (such as coffee) use exothermic reactions.
Back to Exothermic and endothermic reactions index