It's no secret that iced coffee is popular, especially in the summer. In fact, last summer, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) experienced problems because it couldn't peddle frozen Frappuccinos fast enough in its stores during the morning rush (and its prepared Frappuccinos involve both iciness and coffee-ness). Coke (NYSE:KO) and Caribou (NASDAQ:CBOU) are now teaming up to take on the coffee giant in providing iced coffee drinks.

The new ready-to-drink coffee beverage will be available in either a can or a bottle. This is a straight-up coffee offering, not to be confused with Coke Blak, a coffee-cola hybrid that some of us probably considered a particularly weird entry into the beverage market this past year.

It's not news to anybody that Starbucks is already way ahead of the game, though. It has a deal with Coke's arch-rival Pepsi (NYSE:PEP) to provide bottled Starbucks Frappuccino, and I'm sure you've encountered their joint efforts on supermarket shelves, in convenience stores, and so forth. So it's easy to see the parallels. Indeed, under the licensing arrangement, it appears Coke will be providing a Caribou-branded coffee drink.

Caribou's the second-largest coffee company in the United States. Of course, that's a distant second to Starbucks -- Caribou has just 423 coffeehouses. Compare that with the 12,000 total locations Starbucks has here and overseas, and you get the picture.

While Caribou has its work cut out for it when it comes to taking on Starbucks, the company seems to take the challenge seriously, judging from its aggressive moves lately. Earlier this year, when Starbucks bungled an Internet coupon campaign, Caribou was right there with its own offer to possibly disillusioned recipients. The deal with Coke is logical, and it's yet another aggressive move, since it should get the Caribou brand in front of more and more people, and Coke's distribution system should do a great deal to help that come to pass.

That said, it's no easy task to take on Starbucks, even with a powerful ally like Coke. Starbucks really captured loyal customers with its coffee offerings and was able to become the "it" brand in premium coffee. Most of us recognize that once a company manages to make its brand the entrenched one, it's hard to knock off its pedestal. As a Starbucks shareholder, I'm not going to lose any sleep at night over the idea that Caribou might win some converts through this deal with Coke. However, I'm betting that as coffeehouses' second-fiddle player, Caribou's hungry and feels that it has little to lose, and lots to potentially gain, when it comes to trying to take on Starbucks.

Coke is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.