The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Retail coffee and tea
|Founded||Los Angeles, CA (1963)|
|Founder(s)||Herbert B. Hyman
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, CA, USA|
|Number of locations||900+|
|Key people||Sunny Sassoon
(CEO Asia Pacific)
(president & CEO)
|Products||Coffee, tea, food|
|Revenue|| $500 million USD
|Employees||12,000 (May 2013)|
|Parent||International Coffee & Tea, LLC|
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (sometimes shortened to simply "Coffee Bean") is an American coffee chain founded in 1963. It is owned and operated by International Coffee & Tea, LLC, which has its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, California. As of August 2014, the chain has over 900 self-owned and franchised stores in the United States and 24 other countries.
The company was founded by Herbert Hyman in September 1963, as a coffee service for offices. He and his wife Mona, who he married in 1966, honeymooned in Sweden, where they discovered quality coffee. This sparked the decision to import, roast and sell gourmet coffee in Los Angeles, opening the first Coffee Bean store in 1968 in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. Innovations included selling whole beans and touting their country of origin, and allowing customers to observe the beans being roasted and sample varieties before making a purchase. Hyman is considered to be instrumental in the creation of the gourmet coffee industry in the US. He passed away on April 28, 2014, at the age of 82.
By the 1970s, Coffee Bean had expanded to 10 stores in Southern California, and added exotic teas to the menu. In the summer of 1987, an employee brought a blender to a Westwood store, mixing together ice, coffee extract and chocolate powder, paving the way for the company's signature Ice Blended drinks. With the invention of the Ice Blended, the Coffee Bean saw a surge in popularity. The drink was a predecessor to the Starbucks Frappuccino. In 1991, when it was first planning to expand into Los Angeles, Starbucks tried to purchase Coffee Bean, but Hyman turned them down. The opening of Starbucks stores in Los Angeles unexpectedly helped Coffee Bean's business, by driving curious customers to the area.
In 1996, the Hymans sold the Asian franchise rights to Singaporean brothers Victor Sassoon and Sunny Sassoon. The Sassoons quickly expanded the company in the US and internationally, opening the first outlet in Singapore in 1996, and in Malaysia the following year. Within two years, they had opened 29 stores in Singapore and Malaysia, almost as many stores as the Hymans had opened in their 35 years of ownership. In 1998, the Sassoons, along with longtime friend Severin Wunderman, purchased the parent company, International Coffee & Tea LLC, from the Hymans, and took it global. Victor Sassoon works out of Singapore, Sunny Sassoon works in Los Angeles, and Wunderman is a silent partner with no role in management. International Coffee & Tea, LLC remains the name of the holding company.
Sunny Sassoon served as president and CEO from 1998 until 2008, when he moved to the executive chairman position. In 2008, Mel Elias (Sassoon's brother-in-law) assumed the role of president and CEO of the company, after spending seven years as chief operating officer. In September 2013, a significant equity position in Coffee Bean was acquired from International Coffee & Tea by US-based Advent International, in partnership with South Korea-based Mirae Asset Private Equity and Taiwan-based CDIB Capital. The Sassoon family remains a large shareholder. On January 2, 2014, John Dawson assumed the position of president and CEO.
The company is known for its Original Ice Blended coffee and tea drinks, hot coffee drinks, and hot and iced tea drinks. It also sells a variety of whole bean coffees, whole leaf teas, flavored powders, and baked goods.
The company's coffees fall into seven categories: Light & Subtle, Light & Distinctive, Medium & Smooth, Dark & Distinctive, Decaffeinated, Flavored and Reserve. It roasts approximately seven million pounds of coffee annually. All of the beans are hand-roasted at its roasting facility in Camarillo, California. The beans come from farms in various countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Kenya, Indonesia, Jamaica, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Coffee Bean offers several seasonal holiday drinks, in flavors including candy cane, gingerbread, red velvet cake, eggnog and peppermint. For the company's 50th anniversary in 2013, it introduced a Birthday Cake Ice Blended.
Jay Isais, Coffee Bean's senior director of coffee, oversees the quality of the blending and roasting of all the company's beans. A founding member of the Roasters' Guild, he joined Coffee Bean in 2000. He is one of approximately 400 licensed Q graders worldwide, passing an exam of sensory tests administered by the Specialty Coffee Association of America's CQI division.
The company's teas fall into seven categories: Green, Black, Oolong, Herbal Infusion, Decaffeinated, Flavored and Tea Master’s. All of the teas are hand-blended at its facility in Camarillo, California. The Chai Tea Latte, one of the chain's most popular drinks, was first served in 1998. In March 2014, the company introduced its Tea Granita beverage in two flavors, Pear Berry and Passion Fruit.
CBTL single-serve system
CBTL, a single-serve system for home use, was launched in the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines in 2010. Several types of single-serve capsules are available for the machines: espresso, coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
Kosher and halal
As of 1999, all products at all Coffee Bean locations are certified kosher. A location in Los Angeles's Fairfax district, where many ultra-Orthodox Jews reside, meets the stricter standard of Cholov Yisrael in their dairy products and pastries, and is also closed on Shabbat. All the company's food and beverages are also halal.
On May 28, 2013, Hilton Worldwide announced they had signed an exclusive agreement for Coffee Bean to provide in-room coffee and tea for all Hilton hotels in North America, South America, and Central America.
In popular culture
Coffee Bean was regularly seen on the HBO television series Entourage. Most notably, in season 2, after being forced out of Terrance McQuewick's agency, Ari Gold sets up an interim agency at a West Hollywood Coffee Bean. The franchise has also been seen on the MTV reality series The Hills.
The first Coffee Bean location in Brentwood was frequented by celebrities, including Johnny Carson, Ronald Reagan, Jacques Cousteau and Lee Marvin. The franchise's Los Angeles outlets continue to be known for being patronized by celebrities.
- Tiffany Hsu, “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf marks 50th anniversary with free drinks,” Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2013.
- “Coffee Bean Looking To Hire More Than 250 Across California,” CBS Los Angeles, May 17, 2013.
- Andrew Edwards, "Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Expanding to Japan," Los Angeles Business Journal, August 4, 2014.
- "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf inks exclusive area development agreement for Japan," FastCasual.com, August 5, 2014.
- Elaine Woo, “Herbert Hyman dies at 82; founder of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain,” Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2014.
- Wayne Arnold, “Wake Up and Smell the Profits; A Singaporean Sees the World as His Coffee Cup,” New York Times, April 14, 2000.
- Gaby Wenig, “Where the End Justifies the Beans,” The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, October 30, 2013.
- Marshall Heyman, “Learning New Skills At the Coffee Bean,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2011.
- Taylor Clark, “Don’t Fear Starbucks,” Slate, December 28, 2007.
- Justin Doebele, “The Brew to Be No. 2,” Forbes, May 12, 2003.
- Emily Dwass, “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s 50-Cent Drinks + New Tea Service,” LA Weekly, January 9, 2013.
- Justin Yang, “Three Companies Buy Into Coffee Bean,” Los Angeles Business Journal, September 12, 2013.
- “How Mel Elias has built The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to be a difference maker,” Smart Business, July 1, 2013.
- Isabella Steger, "Private Equity Gets a Cup of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf," Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2013.
- Neerja Jetley, “Singapore’s Coffee King Sassoon Gets Ready With A War Chest To Up The Ante On Starbucks,” Forbes, September 16, 2013.
- Lisa Jennings, “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf names new president, CEO,” Nation's Restaurant News, December 4, 2013.
- Gourmet Whole Bean & Ground Coffee | The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Coffee
- Jeff Miller, “14 Things You Didn’t Know About the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf,” Thrillist, July 7, 2014.
- “A Week In The Life Of Jay Isais, Senior Director Of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf,” Huffington Post, June 5, 2013.
- “The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: $1 Holiday Beverages,” Hip 2 Save, November 7, 2012.
- Best Drink at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Winter Dream Latte | TheDailyMeal: Best and Worst Holiday Coffee Drinks | Comcast.net
- Holiday drinks are on tap at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf | SmartBrief
- Chloe Searcy, “We Tasted It: Coffee Bean’s Birthday Cake Ice Blended,” Huffington Post, May 24, 2013.
- Joshua Lurie, “Coffee’s trained tasters know their beans and brews,” Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2008.
- Specialty Whole Leaf Tea | The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Tea
- "News: The Coffee Bean - New Tea Granitas for $2 Next Week," Brand Eating, March 6, 2014.
- "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Redefines Refreshment With Its New Beverage: The Tea Granita," March 3, 2014.
- David DeCandia, “A Time for Sleep, or Friendly Tea Talk,” New York Times, May 21, 2012.
- “Seven Questions with David DeCandia, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s Master Tea Blender,” LAist, March 5, 2009.
- “Coffee Bean launches single-serve beverage system, set to expand in Asia,” Retail Asia, May 2011.
- Mary MacVean, “Single coffee-cup makers raise environmental concerns,” Seattle Times, January 21, 2012.
- Michael Kaminer, “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Makes New York Debut,” The Forward, September 15, 2011.
- FAQs, coffeebean.com. Accessed July 30, 2014.
- Store Locator, coffeebean.com. Accessed August 14, 2014.
- Shan Li, "Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf signs deal to open up to 200 stores in Japan," Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2014.
- Now Brewing: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® Introduces Exclusive In-Room Collection | Hilton Worldwide Global Media Center
- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. Welcomes The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to the Keurig Family (NASDAQ:GMCR)
- Hilary de Vries, “’Entourage’ Chillingly Realistic, Insiders Say,” New York Times, September 5, 2005.
- David G. Allan, “The ‘Entourage’ guide to L.A.,” NBC News, April 19, 2007.
- “The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf,” Inc. Accessed July 30, 2014.