Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Heats Up Coffee Wars in NYC

Independent coffee retailer Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf based in Los Angeles announced on Tuesday it is planning to open new franchises this year in New York City. Eventually the number of franchises in the city will grow to as many as 100.

The company CEO John Fuller said the company wants to aggressively open new locations across the U.S. during the next couple of years and the announcement for growth in New York City was just one step of that overall commitment.

Fuller added that in New York the main competition is Starbucks, and he said that Coffee Bean may gain from what he called “Starbucks Fatigue.” People becoming sick of always seeing a Starbucks on each corner may want to change and that will benefit them along with other brands.

An analyst that covers restaurants in NYC said that everyone likes to try new things.

The Coffee Bean vice president of business development and franchise operations said the company prides itself on its high-quality coffee served in a cozy atmosphere. Coffee Bean is amongst the third wave or more commonly referred to as specialty coffee sellers, which includes Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle Coffee amongst a host of others.

The Coffee Bean CEO added that the so-called “fatigue” could bring potential business partners to their table.

Fuller added that Coffee Bean was not as corporate and they will be the ones to make a decision and he was referring to himself and one other person. The small ownership team means that landlords, developers, and franchisees do not have to deal with the same amount of red tape compared to when working with a large corporation.

With the company including tea in their name, the retailer said it is able to take advantage of the preferences of customers for a lower-calorie, healthier drink. Fuller said tea is a huge platform for them.

At the current time, the coffee chain consists of only 311 stores across the U.S. with most of them in Southern California. During the next five years to ten years, Fuller hopes to bring the number of locations to 1,000, which would put the company far behind that of Starbucks which has 15,000 locations in just the U.S. alone.

This is the second time Coffee Bean has entered New York City. In 2011 the company first opened a location in the city and had 13 stores by 2016, but closed them that same year and is moving forward another franchisee.