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Jacob Jaber on Philz Coffee's Los Angeles Invasion

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Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Philz Coffee announced their impending Santa Monica location back in March with the intention of opening various locations around town. Now Philz is just about ready to open, with signage up on Santa Monica Blvd in the 525 SMB development. Eater sits down with CEO Jacob Jaber to discuss the Bay Area coffee shop and how he intends to win the caffeinated hearts of Angelenos.

What prompted the expansion down from the Bay Area to L.A.? There a lot of tech and start ups in and around Santa Monica, but that's not the only reason. There are plenty of Starbucks' and Coffee Beans, and that's fine, but there needs to be more options. Philz is totally different. It's different than Third Wave, but also different than Peets and Coffee Bean. We're our own category. We have a diverse customer group.

We convert latte drinkers to Philz Coffee drinkers. The people that work there are friendly and warm. It's really a community gathering place. We feel like our stores are warm and welcoming because we hire kick ass people who want to give an amazing experience.

Is this going to be your only location? How are you going to expand within L.A.? Santa Monica happened to be our first location. We didn't have a master plan. We knew that the Westside was an area of interest. It feel like people there appreciate quality. There are lot of pockets in Southern California that we like: Hollywood, the Valley. You want to be in a lot of those places. This is just one of the stores that we will open. Our goal is to do it right and do what we did in San Francisco. We want to serve each community best, and that takes a little tweaking here and there. Our vision is to re-invent the coffee experience, one community at a time.

How many stores do you want to have over time? I think L.A.'s huge. I don't have a number but if we get to open 5-10 stores in the first few years, that'd be great. if we find 15 stores, or 8 stores, that'd be great. We'll only open 5 if we can only 5 great stores. it's all about the quality, we want to do it right. We have to treat it a little organically and we're going to learn with each store to be better.

What's different about what Philz Coffee does? There's so many differentiators. Number one, we believe the best coffee is the one that comes to your taste. You might like pizza one way, and somebody likes it another way. Philz has the platform and experience that allows for a really special interaction with the barista in an effort to find the perfect cup of coffee for you. It's handcraft but it only takes three, four, or five minutes. There's a perception that it's long, but in actuality, we can do 20 cups in 10 minutes with multiple baritas. It's personalizing the coffee because we don't have a lot of machinery. If you try a cup of Philz, you'll like it better than espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos. If you don't, there's something else for you.

The barista is there to find something that you like. Nine and a half people out of ten people walk out saying this is the best coffee they've ever had. You don't start at the cashier when you walk in, you order with the "chef," with the barista. While they're handcrafting it, you pay then wait. You have this great cup of coffee and you're encouraged to try it before you leave. There are no condiments: customers should not have to put anything into their coffee because we'll do it for you. As a first timer, it's easy to get a little overwhelmed, but once you have that first experience, you feel like you're a part of it.

Are you going to be okay with all the customization that Angelenos love to do? L.A. is really the king of customization and that's one of our core things that we do. We customize. That's something we're going to embrace and learn, and people are really going to see that it's a personalized experience. After water, coffee is the most consumed beverage. Philz is different. We don't have lattes and espresso, and we want to focus on doing on thing really well.

Are you concerned about people knowing what Philz is about? I bet you that we're not going to have as many first timers as we think. People will bring friends who have never tried Philz. They'll train them on how it works. We're in the people business, that's what separates us. Other companies are in the coffee business, but we're in the people business.
· All Philz Coffee Coverage [~ELA~]

Philz Coffee

525 Santa Monica Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401