What is in this article?:
- Specialty tea service grows at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
- A different customer experience
The chain offers single-estate teas from Sri Lanka, Ah Li mountain tea from Taiwan and other premium brews that customers can’t find elsewhere.
A different customer experience
That might seem antithetical to the multitasking lifestyle of convenience-focused urban Americans, but it is on-trend with consumers who are buying better coffee — a fact so widespread that Burger King has announced plans to introduce espresso drinks in March — upgrading to the more premium beverage offerings of “better burger” chains such as Five Guys and Smashburger, and exploring a wider range of beer and wine.
Although the year-old tableside tea program was slow to take off, DeCandia said it has started to grow in popularity among certain groups. “Early morning, it’s tough, because everyone has someplace to go, but and older crowd comes in at around 11 or 12 and has the tableside service,” he said.
In the evenings, especially with the unusually cool weather in Southern California this winter, customers have been taking a half hour or an hour in the evenings to warm up with a pot of tea, DeCandia added.
“It’s a little bit more upscale, it’s a different experience, and it makes the tea taste better,” he said, especially since the tea comes with a timer, and the server instructs the guests how long to wait before pouring. “You’re virtually guaranteed the perfect cup of tea.”
DeCandia’s next move is to introduce tea “cappuccino” later this year. The drink is made by steaming a grade of tea called broken orange pekoe in an espresso machine set aside for that purpose. Then, steamed milk and froth are added along with one of the flavored powders that usually go in the chain’s iced blended drinks. The drink will be available in three varieties — Scottish, Chai and Anniversary Blend — for $3.50 per 12-ounce serving.
He said that, although cappuccino’s not a typical application for tea, “Tea needs to be sexy. It needs to be there in every sort of way that coffee is. It shouldn’t be coffee’s red-headed step child.
“[Some consumers] really like the experience of a barista making the beverage and spooning the [foam] on top.”