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At Dutch Bros, 'the product is love' — and that helped a lot in 2020

The Oregon-based coffee chain overcame challenge after challenge last year thanks to its culture and its drive-thru-only model.


Early in the pandemic, many wondered whether the breakfast daypart and coffee segment would be left for dead. After all, millions of Americans started working from home, dropping their commute and their regular trip through the drive thru for coffee. And Starbucks’ sales plummeted even further than its QSR peers.

Dutch Bros didn’t get that memo, though. The Grants Pass, Ore.–based drive-thru coffee chain saw only a minor blip in sales last spring before roaring back and closing the year with 7.7% sales growth, according to Top 500 data.

Drive thru was mostly to thank; the brand didn’t have dining rooms to close like the vast majority of U.S. restaurants. But president Travis Boersma, who cofounded the chain with his late brother Dane in 1992, also said the company’s laid-back, “fun-loving” culture helped Dutch Bros plow ahead.

“We're in the relationship business. The product is love,” he said. “We're all about trying to figure out how to persevere through trying, challenging times, and hope is the name of the game.”

For more on how Dutch Bros navigated the multiple crises of 2020 and emerged stronger in 2021, stream the video or podcast interview with Boersma and CEO Joth Ricci above.

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