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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

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International Coffee & Tea, LLC
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Company typePrivate
Retail coffee and tea
FoundedLos Angeles (1963; 61 years ago (1963))
FounderHerbert B. Hyman
Mona Hyman
United States
Number of locations
Area served
  • United States
  • Bangladesh
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Egypt
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Brunei Darussalam
Key people
  • Sunny Sassoon​ (Ceo & Executive​ chairman)1998-2019
  • Victor Sassoon 1998-2013 ​ (CEO​ Asia​ Pacific)
  • John Fuller​ (president​ &​ CEO)
ProductsCoffee, tea, food
RevenueIncrease $500 million+ USD
(January 2013)[1]
Number of employees
(May 2013)[2]
ParentSuper Magnificent Coffee Company Pte. Ltd.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (sometimes shortened to simply "Coffee Bean" or "The 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 2017, the chain had over 1,000 self-owned and franchised stores in the United States and 31 in other countries.[3][4]

In 2019, Jollibee Foods Corporation, a multinational company based in the Philippines, bought The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for $350 million, making the largest transaction Jollibee has ever made as of date.[5][6]


The former logo still used in some stores
Wordmark as it appears on official website

The company was founded by Herbert Hyman (1931–2014) in September 1963,[7] as a coffee service for offices. His wife Mona (whom he married in 1966) and he 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 then to sample varieties before making a purchase. Hyman died on April 28, 2014, at the age of 82.[8]

By the 1970s the firm had expanded to 10 stores in Southern California and had added exotic teas to the menu. In the summer of 1987 an employee brought a blender to a Westwood store where he mixed together ice, coffee extract and chocolate powder, paving the way for the company's signature Ice Blended drinks.[8][9] With the invention of the Ice Blended, the chain saw a surge in popularity.[10] The drink was a predecessor to the Starbucks Frappuccino.[11] In 1991, when it was first planning to expand into Los Angeles, Starbucks tried to purchase the firm, 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.[12]

In 1996, the Hymans sold the Asian franchise rights to Singaporean brothers Victor Sassoon and Sunny Sassoon.[9] 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.[9] 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.[13] 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.[9][13][14]

Victor Sassoon works out of Singapore, Sunny Sassoon works in Los Angeles, and Wunderman is a silent partner with no role in management.[13] International Coffee & Tea, LLC remains the name of the holding company.[13]

Sunny Sassoon served as president and CEO from 1998 until 2009, when he moved to the executive chairman position until 2019.[15] In 2009, 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.[13][16] 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.[17][18] John Fuller served as president and CEO from 2015 to 2020.[19][20][21][22]

In 2019, the Philippines' Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) acquired The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for $350 million, making Jollibee's biggest investment to date.[6] JFC bought it through Java Ventures LLC, a company from the US wholly owned subsidiary of Super Magnificent Coffee Company Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, a subsidiary of Jollibee Worldwide Pte Ltd.[23] Under JFC, the company closed more stores than it opened. It started from 1,189 stores upon buying it to just 1,048 in 2021.[24]


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.[11]


The company's coffees fall into seven categories: Light & Subtle, Light & Distinctive, Medium & Smooth, Dark & Distinctive, Decaffeinated, Flavored, and Reserve.[25] It roasts approximately seven million pounds of coffee annually. All of the beans are hand-roasted at its roasting facility in Camarillo, California.[26] The beans come from farms in Costa Rica, Colombia, Kenya, Indonesia, Jamaica, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.[26][27] The firm offers several seasonal holiday drinks, in flavors including candy cane, gingerbread, red velvet cake, eggnog, and peppermint.[26][28][29][30] For the company's 50th anniversary in 2013, it introduced a Birthday Cake Ice Blended.[31]


The company's teas fall into seven categories: Green, Black, Oolong, Herbal Infusion, Decaffeinated, Flavored, and Tea Master's.[32] All of the teas are hand-blended at its facility in Camarillo, California.[26] The Chai Tea Latte, one of the chain's most popular drinks, was first served in 1998.[14] In March 2014, the company introduced its Tea Granita beverage in two flavors, Pear Berry and Passion Fruit.[33][34]

CBTL single-serve system[edit]

CBTL, a single-serve system for home use, was launched in the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and the Philippines in 2010.[35][36] Several types of single-serve capsules are available for the machines: espresso, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.[35]

Kosher and halal[edit]

All Coffee Bean coffees, teas, and the powders used to make other beverages, are certified kosher. As of June 2020, Coffee Bean ended its storewide kosher-only certification for stores and bakery items in Southern California.[37] Storewide kosher certification was ended for Coffee Bean locations in the Las Vegas area months earlier.[38] While Coffee Bean had planned to move away from kosher-only certification to provide more offerings as a phased rollout before the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said the crisis accelerated its plan.[37]

Prior to June 2020, all company-owned locations in Southern California were certified kosher.[39] During that time, most in California and Nevada had signed and dated certificates indicating that the entirety of their items were kosher in conformance to the standards of the certifying agency, the Kosher Supervision of America.[40] Even before June 2020, privately owned franchise stores could opt-out of kosher certification.[41]

All the company's locations in Singapore[42] and Malaysia[43] are halal.


A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlet at Mumbai Airport T1 in India

As of 2017, the chain is present in 32 countries,[44] with new stores opened in Japan on May 26, 2015,[45] and in Panama on June 17, 2015.


On 5 September 2012, Nokia announced a deal with the chain to offer wireless charging facilities in its cafés.[46] 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.[47]

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters announced on May 29, 2013, that they had partnered with Coffee Bean to create a K-Cup for Keurig single-cup brewing systems, available in the US as of 2014.[48]

On August 24, 2015, the firm announced they had signed an exclusive area development agreement with South Korean retail conglomerate E-LAND to enter into the Chinese market.[49] On July 21, 2020, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf entered into a partnership with fast casual chain Smashburger, and began incorporating Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf products into their menu.[50]


2011: Bathroom spycam scandal[edit]

A popular coffee shop chain was under fire for how it addressed repeated discoveries of a bathroom peeping Tom at a couple of its stores, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.[51] According to Courthouse News, lead plaintiff Roderick Smith discovered the first spy camera nestled in the u-bend of the sink in an Encino, California, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store in October 2011. Smith said after he noticed the device inside the bathroom's unisex facilities, he immediately told management at the shop but was told the camera looked more like a flash drive, according to Smith's attorney Brian Kabateck. In a statement obtained by CBS Los Angeles, the company said: “We believe that our cooperation helped lead to the arrest of the suspect. In light of the pending litigation surrounding this matter, we are unable to comment further at this time.” [52]

2019: Political gaffe in SAF Day discount promotional artwork[edit]

The Singapore chain of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has apologized for a blunder in its original promotional artwork to mark SAF Day, which featured a soldier in uniform. However, the soldier did not appear to be from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The chain pulled the promotion from its Facebook page shortly after and issued an apology for the mistake. It said: "Our SAF Day Celebration artwork that went out earlier was incorrect. We sincerely apologize for the mistake. Thank you very much for your comments and kind understanding."[53] A few hours later, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shared a new promotional artwork on Facebook that featured an ice-blended drink, instead of a soldier. While some social media users defended the coffee chain, there was still some backlash from others.

Animal cruelty allegations[edit]

2018: The backlash from #CatsofBGC controversy[edit]

After the news hit that the friendly neighborhood felines of One Bonifacio High Street suddenly disappeared, rumors began to circulate that the adjacent hotel had hired a pest control company called Pestbusters to get rid of them. The angry people of the Internet discovered that The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is part of the Table Group, which also runs Pestbusters, the pest control company that “dealt with” the cats. The coffee chain has been implicated by association and is now being disavowed by its patrons. The Facebook page called Rats of BGC was set up, with an event called "Hanapan ng Pusa sa Shangri-la," with the goal of pointing out that the hotel will rue their decision to get rid of the cats when the rats start pouring in.[54]

2022: Caged eggs in CBTL’s global supply chain[edit]

CBTL has been facing negative publicity for its usage of battery-cage eggs in the food it provides in its locations across the globe.[55] Due to the cruel conditions on those farms, as well as the health risks associated with eggs produced in battery cages, the European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC banned caged farms back in 2012.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tiffany Hsu. "Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf marks 50th anniversary with free drinks". Los Angeles Times. January 30, 2013.
  2. ^ “Coffee Bean Looking To Hire More Than 250 Across California,” CBS Los Angeles, May 17, 2013.
  3. ^ Andrew Edwards, "Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Expanding to Japan," Los Angeles Business Journal, August 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf inks exclusive area development agreement for Japan," FastCasual.com, August 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Cigaral, Ian Nicolas (2019-09-24). "JFC completes purchase of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf". Philstar.com. Retrieved 2024-06-01.
  6. ^ a b Bloomberg (2019-07-25). "Jollibee buys Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2024-06-01.
  7. ^ "Our Story | The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf ®". www.coffeebean.com.ph. 2018-05-23. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  8. ^ a b Elaine Woo, “Herbert Hyman dies at 82; founder of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain,” Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Wayne Arnold, “Wake Up and Smell the Profits; A Singaporean Sees the World as His Coffee Cup,” New York Times, April 14, 2000.
  10. ^ Gaby Wenig, “Where the End Justifies the Beans,” The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, October 30, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Marshall Heyman, “Learning New Skills At the Coffee Bean,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Taylor Clark, “Don’t Fear Starbucks,” Slate, December 28, 2007.
  13. ^ a b c d e Justin Doebele, “The Brew to Be No. 2,” Forbes, May 12, 2003.
  14. ^ a b Emily Dwass, “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s 50-Cent Drinks + New Tea Service,” LA Weekly, January 9, 2013.
  15. ^ Justin Yang, “Three Companies Buy Into Coffee Bean,” Los Angeles Business Journal, September 12, 2013.
  16. ^ “How Mel Elias has built The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to be a difference maker,” Smart Business, July 1, 2013.
  17. ^ Isabella Steger, "Private Equity Gets a Cup of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf," Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2013.
  18. ^ Neerja Jetley, “Singapore’s Coffee King Sassoon Gets Ready With A War Chest To Up The Ante On Starbucks,” Forbes, September 16, 2013.
  19. ^ Lisa Jennings, -tea-leaf-names-new-pres-ceo “Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf names new president, CEO,” Nation's Restaurant News, December 4, 2013.
  20. ^ "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf names John Fuller CEO". Restaurant Business. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  21. ^ "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf names John Fuller CEO". Nation's Restaurant News. 2015-09-03. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  22. ^ "Wahlburgers names industry vet John Fuller CEO". Restaurant Business.
  23. ^ "Jollibee Foods completes $350-M purchase of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf". GMA News Online. 2019-09-24. Retrieved 2024-06-01.
  24. ^ "Jollibee's Highlands Coffee surpasses 600 stores as CBTL returns to outlet growth". World Coffee Portal. 2023-03-17. Retrieved 2024-06-01.
  25. ^ Gourmet Whole Bean & Ground Coffee | The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Coffee
  26. ^ a b c d Jeff Miller, “14 Things You Didn’t Know About the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf,” Thrillist, July 7, 2014.
  27. ^ “A Week In The Life Of Jay Isais, Senior Director Of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf,” Huffington Post, June 5, 2013.
  28. ^ “The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: $1 Holiday Beverages,” Hip 2 Save, November 7, 2012.
  29. ^ Best Drink at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Winter Dream Latte | TheDailyMeal: Best and Worst Holiday Coffee Drinks | Comcast.net Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Holiday drinks are on tap at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf | SmartBrief". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  31. ^ Chloe Searcy, “We Tasted It: Coffee Bean’s Birthday Cake Ice Blended,” Huffington Post, May 24, 2013.
  32. ^ Specialty Whole Leaf Tea | The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Tea
  33. ^ "News: The Coffee Bean - New Tea Granitas for $2 Next Week," Brand Eating, March 6, 2014.
  34. ^ "The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Redefines Refreshment With Its New Beverage: The Tea Granita," March 3, 2014.
  35. ^ a b The supplier is an Italian company in Bologna called Caffitaly. “Coffee Bean launches single-serve beverage system, set to expand in Asia,” Archived 2013-09-29 at the Wayback Machine Retail Asia, May 2011.
  36. ^ Mary MacVean, “Single coffee-cup makers raise environmental concerns,” Seattle Times, January 21, 2012.
  37. ^ a b "We Are Making Some Changes". The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  38. ^ "CBTL/s Las Vegas Locations Are No Longer Kosher". YeahThatsKosher. 27 April 2020. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  39. ^ coffeebean.com Accessed July 24, 2015
  40. ^ "NEWS AND UPDATES". KosherLA. 1-310-246-3417. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  41. ^ "NEWS AND UPDATES". KosherLA. 310-246-3417. Archived from the original on 21 June 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  42. ^ coffeebean.com.sg. Accessed July 24, 2015.
  43. ^ Coffee Bean Malaysia FAQs. Accessed 21 September 2018.
  44. ^ Store Locator, coffeebean.com. Accessed August 14, 2014.
  45. ^ Shan Li, "The U.S. coffee shop comes to Japan," Metropolis Magazine, May 27, 2015.
  46. ^ "Nokia and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® form partnership to introduce wireless charging to cafés across the United States". Nokia. 5 September 2012. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  47. ^ Now Brewing: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® Introduces Exclusive In-Room Collection | Hilton Worldwide Global Media Center
  48. ^ "Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. Welcomes The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to the Keurig Family (NASDAQ:GMCR)". Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-19.
  49. ^ "Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf partners Korea's E-LAND to enter China". Channel NewsAsia. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  50. ^ Smashburger. "Smashburger® Introduces All New Coffee Beverage Lineup In Partnership With The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®". www.prnewswire.com (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  51. ^ "Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf Bathroom Scandal". 25 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  52. ^ "Lawsuit: Cofee Bean Covered Up Hidden Cameras". CBS News. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  53. ^ "Coffee Bean Using A Chinese Solder For SAF Day Promo". 2 July 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  54. ^ "Cofee Bean And Tea Leaf Gets A Backlash From CatsOfBGC". Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  55. ^ "Food Safety Risks And Animal Cruelty At Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf". Retrieved 7 April 2022.

External links[edit]