Not to be outdone by Dunkin Donut’s next generation store that emphasizes mobile ordering, L.A.’s favorite coffee chain, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, just announced mobile ordering for select company-owned locations.

Like other mobile programs, Coffee Bean’s pay ahead ordering allows mobile customers to skip the line for their drink. Those who use the feature will earn extra Rewards points and have access to special discounts. As of today, the feature is available in 191 company-owned store locations around Southern California and Arizona. Coffee Bean plans to make the feature available to franchises and “new geographic areas” in the coming year.

One added bonus: the app is integrated with Uber. That means you can use the Coffee Bean Rewards app to both pay for your drink and order a ride to your preferred store location.

Taco Bell did a similar program with Lyft last year, allowing customers to make a detour to the nearest Taco Bell drive thru en route to their destination. The move was a complete disaster; many drivers were upset at being forced to sit in long drive-thru lines during peak traffic hours, for no additional compensation. Lyft eventually had to clarify that Taco Mode, as the program was dubbed, was optional for drivers.

Uber already has a rocky history in terms of its relationship to drivers. If drivers start tweeting about spilled lattes ruining their cars and long drive-thru lines, we may have another Taco Mode on our hands. Then again, coffee and fast-food burritos tend to serve different markets. At the risk of generalizing, bad smells and messy spills seem much more likely with a late-night crowd that wants fast food en route to the club, rather than someone on their way to a meeting who needs a caffeine jolt. So Uber may fare a little better with this deal.

Nation’s Restaurant News noted that mobile payments for restaurants have jumped 50 percent over the last year. So while it seems a bit late in the game for Coffee Bean to be joining the mobile ordering movement, it’s still an opportune time to do so. Plus, Coffee Bean customers tend to be fiercely loyal, which bodes well for the company, at least for this initial rollout.


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