While people just call it Coffee Bean and forget the Tea Leaf, executives at family-run chain Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf want to change that by highlighting their love of Orange Oolong and other whole-leaf tea selections.
The company opened a store late last month in Manhattan Beach to test its new tea bar concept. The bar offers customers a selection of 20 whole-leaf teas, sold three ways: brewed hot by the cup, brewed hot by the pot for tea service at the table, or dry by the ounce to take home and brew yourself. The teas cost between $4 and $8 an ounce. Table service is $5.95 and includes two small pastries.
Danielle Pollard, director of operations and franchise services for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, spearheaded the idea. She said tea is becoming more popular with American consumers so the company wants to make sure people know it’s more than just a coffee chain.
“It’s been a part of our business for 50 years, but it gets lost because of our heavy focus on coffee,” she said. “We want to showcase to customers that we are a tea authority.”
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores are owned and operated by parent company International Coffee & Tea LLC on La Cienega Boulevard near the 10 Freeway. It has more than 850 franchised and company-owned stores in 23 countries, including 230 in California.
The company will open two more stores to test the tea bar concept early next year, one in Beverly Hills and one elsewhere in Los Angeles. If the tea bars test well with customers, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will consider rolling out the concept to stores that have a large enough space to accommodate it. The 1,984-square-foot Manhattan Beach store is larger than most other Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations.
Pollard said the company will decide whether to cultivate the concept once it knows how much people like it.
“It’s truly going to be based on customer feedback and where our sales are,” she said.
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Staff reporter Bethany Firnhaber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.
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