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The Human Bean captures the franchise market for drive-thru specialty coffee

This other Oregon-born coffee chain is expanding rapidly with almost no dine-in


If there is one feature that boosted chances of success during the pandemic shutdown of 2020, it was having a drive-thru.

That format served Medford, Ore.-based coffee chain The Human Bean well as COVID hit, and continues to fuel the 128-unit chain’s growth.

Co-founded by Dan Hawkins, who serves as CEO and president, The Human Bean is one of two growing drive-thru coffee chains emerging out of Oregon. Dutch Bros, founded in 1992, recently made headlines with its initial public offering. The Human Bean came along in 1998 with a franchise model.

Dutch Bros, however, stopped franchising broadly in 2008, instead offering franchises only to its own employees within the system. The Human Bean has continued to grow its franchise base and now operates in about 18 states. About 55 stores are in development, and the company, which operates 13 units, is also planning growth.

In 2020, The Human Bean added 29 units, an increase of nearly 30%, and sales were up nearly 20% to $118.7 million, according to the Nation’s Restaurant News/Firefly Top 500 report.

Hawkins also attributes that growth to the addition of technology to allow for more contact-free interaction, as well as the taste profile of The Human Bean’s beverages, from the smoother flavor of the specialty coffee to fresh-fruit smoothies and teas.

In this video, Hawkins talks about the competition for drive-thru real estate and what’s ahead for The Human Bean.

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