Today, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf announced and kicked off an exclusive delivery partnership with Postmates at 180 company-owned Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations across California and Arizona. According to a press announcement, additional locations around the U.S. are planned “in the coming weeks.”
Delivery fees on orders start at $1.99. For customers of Postmates Unlimited, the company’s subscription service, the delivery fee is waived on orders over $15.
Southern California-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf joins a growing list of coffee retailers now delivering, usually via third-party services.
Starbucks already operates a delivery program via Uber Eats in certain U.S. markets. If you prefer the McCafe brand for your early-morning coffee needs, McDonald’s will deliver one through Uber Eats (though it recently bailed on its exclusivity contract with the service). Dunkin’, meanwhile, has been testing delivery since 2015.
Coffee has always been a bit of a tricky delivery item, largely because it’s historically been a hot, highly spill-able beverage. As one writer noted back in 2016, “Time and temperature seem to be the two biggest obstacles [to delivery] in repeating the experiences consumers have come to expect within the brick-and-mortar retail locations.”
Those were the days when ordering coffee for delivery meant getting a tepid drink wrapped three times over in cellophane. But times are changing. More and more tech around delivery operations and logistics has entered the restaurant industry over the last few years, as have business models like ghost kitchens, which typically only service delivery and could therefore speed up order fulfillment times. Starbucks, in fact, just announced it is testing ghost kitchens in China that could improve quality and timeliness on orders.
Plus, according to the National Coffee Association’s latest report, so-called non-traditional beverages like blended drinks, cold brew, and nitro coffee are on the rise, thanks to a higher demand for personalization and specialization from younger customers. Many (though not all) of these beverages are better suited to car trips than the old-fashioned cup of joe.
As drinks like these become more popular, and as technology gets cheaper and easier for restaurants to implement and the industry continues to innovate on packaging, tepid coffee in a paper cup could soon become a thing of the past.