The chicken chain has a hit with its cold-brew.
Chick-fil-A had a coffee problem.
For years, “Customers were walking into our stores in the morning to have our delicious breakfast, but holding a competitor’s coffee cup in their hand,” says David Farmer, the chain’s vice president of product development. It crystallized further for Farmer when he was visiting the company’s corporate museum in Atlanta and saw a replica of a 1950s sign that said: Hot coffee, made fresh every hour.“We were not making fresh coffee every hour,” he concedes.
To address the coffee gap, Chick-fil-A partnered with Thrive Farmers, an Atlanta-based startup that shares revenues of beans with the farmers that harvest them, flipping the usual model that leaves many farmers underpaid for their work. (It doesn’t hurt that this do-gooder model might also help Chick-fil-A’s image, which came under fire in recent years after controversial comments made by its CEO.) Chick-fil-A launched the new coffee in all Chick-Fil-A stores one year ago.
It has been quite a success.
Chick-fil-A tells Fortune that its coffee sales have doubled since the launch of Thrive coffee last August. More interestingly, iced coffee has driven 75% of that growth. Chick-fil-A has offered coffee for decades, but many loyal customers had no idea. That’s changing.
With its push into better iced coffee, Chick-fil-A isn’t just tapping into the growing demand for iced coffee (which is especially high among millennials, who enjoy the drink in the afternoons rather than just in the morning). It is also part of the exploding cold brew craze.
Cold-brew iced coffee is suddenly everywhere. As opposed to traditional iced coffee, which is brewed like hot coffee and then chilled, cold brew is steeped for 24 hours (sometimes longer) in cold water. In many cases the beans are even roasted differently—think of it as iced coffee by design, rather than normal coffee that was iced after the fact. It is the kind of thing that has obvious appeal to moneyed hipsters who buy local, organic, and artisanal everything.
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