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What Jollibee's Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf acquisition means for the American Coffee Wars

6 months ago by James Mattone in Markets
Ernesto Tanmantiong, the CEO of Jollibee, just led his company into a $100 acquisition of third wave coffee chain Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, putting it into the international coffee fight.

Jollibee ($PSE:JFC), the Philippines-based fast-food company led by CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong, acquired The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf ($PRIV_COFFEEBEAN), regarded as one of the major players in the "Third Wave Coffee" movement, for $100 million on Wednesday, July 24.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is an upscale coffee chain that has both franchised and company-owned stores spanning hundreds of locations spanning from Santa Monica, California to Seoul, South Korea. It's commonly grouped into the "Third Wave Coffee" type of stores, as they serve coffee that is more expensive than the regular cup of joe, but is meant to be of higher quality and experience for the customer.

Most of its American locations are concentrated in the Los Angeles area, especially in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and the Valley. Here, and in the rest of California, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf puts itself in areas where there are higher income households. The average Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf location is in an area with a median household income of $83,222.90, over $20,000 more than the country's median household income in 2017.

This is also where some of its Third Wave Coffee rivals Blue Bottle ($BLUEBOTTLECOFFEE) and La Colombe ($LACOLOMBE) come to roast... er... roost to try and compete for the same customers.

Blue Bottle is more concentrated in San Francisco, but does have a few outlets right near Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's locations in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, La Colombe only has a handful of locations within the city, but are still right in the thick of the artisanal coffee turf war.

But here lies the bigger question: what about Starbucks ($NASDAQ:SBUX), the very company that these coffee chains are trying to disrupt in the market? Well, the twin-tailed mermaid still reigns over Angelinos and Californians in general. There are almost 3,000 Starbucks locations in California (2,989 stores that are tracked in our database), which is almost 15 times more stores than the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has in the state.

However, in what Starbucks provides in quantity, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will try to do in quality under its new owners Jollibee. With a retail footprint that is in the same markets as its third wave peers as well as the elephant-sized coffee mermaid in the room known as Starbucks, the company will look to turn around the loss leader into a true disruptor for the way we get our java.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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James Mattone

James is the Associate Editor at Thinknum Media, mainly covering video games, food, and tech news, but not afraid to head into Sephora or beauty brands if need be...

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