Popular Utah-based coffee chain plans expansion into Pinal County

Jeremy Beren

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Courtesy of Beans & Brews

By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Queen Creek, Ariz.) — A Utah coffeehouse chain is set to expand into Arizona, with three new stores on the horizon for the Phoenix metro area.

Beans & Brews Coffeehouse already has one Arizona store, situated in Colorado City. But the company has recently confirmed its plan to open three additional locations in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley.

Vice President of Franchise Development Kim Falk told NewsBreak that the same principles governing the chain's success in Utah will transfer over to the new Arizona locations — a welcoming, inviting coffee shop with "something for everyone."

"We want to be a leader in the community. We want to be a place where people can gather, which is why (our stores) have a lobby as well as a drive-thru," Falk said via phone. "We really want to get to know our neighbors, and have their drink ready for those regulars who come in every morning."

The Beans & Brews backstory

Brothers Jeff and Kevin Laramie founded Beans & Brews in 1993. The chain currently has 66 locations, and 62 are in Utah. Its menu is stocked with bites to eat, as well as warm and cold beverage options aside from coffee. The company's "traditional favorites" include a cane and cream cold brew, the Caramel Cielo espresso drink, and their "go-to" brewed coffee.

Beans & Brews has become a local favorite in the Salt Lake City area, in part because of its "low-key, in-the-mountains vibe," as Falk said. The company's stores also employ a proprietary "high-altitude roasting" technique using arabica beans. Their beans are roasted for a shorter time at a lower temperature to achieve a smoother flavor that doesn't taste harsh or "scorched."

Falk, who joined the company in February 2021, believes this is why Beans & Brews is what she describes as the "brand of choice" for coffee drinkers in the Wasatch Front — the metropolitan region that includes the cities of Ogden, Provo, and Salt Lake.

"(This method) allows for a smoother, richer flavor," she said. "You're actually tasting the bean. You're not tasting the roast, which is usually burnt."

A brand that continues to grow

Falk explained that company leadership began seriously contemplating regional expansion last year after Charger Investment Partners, a private equity firm, provided the financial backing needed to hire a franchise development team.

The Laramies' slow, deliberate approach might eventually see the Beans & Brews brand expand throughout the region — 18 years after initial franchising efforts began locally. Falk believes there will be "many more" Beans & Brews stores opening in the Southwest or even nationwide, depending on growth and competition.

Beans & Brews' emphasis on forging relationships close to home is something else that the company wants to carry over to the Valley. Two local families will be among the new franchise owners — and now that a development agreement has been reached, scouting the right location can begin.

Falk said this process could take months or even into the next year or two. The new franchise owners are eyeing buildings that are at least 1,700-square feet.

"Our owners are motivated to serve their communities and stick it out to find the very best location to serve," she said. "We want people that are ingrained in our brand and (who are) like us."

As a franchise-based chain, Beans & Brews' individual store owners hire the baristas who make customers' drinks. Falk explained that the corporate office provides training for employees upon request from a store owner, and that the company exercises great caution in determining with whom it will enter a franchise agreement.

Franchising is one way Beans & Brews differentiates itself from a major national chain like Starbucks — which has zero franchised stores among the 15,000-plus it operates or directly owns in the United States. Falk explained not everyone is cut out to own a slice of the Beans & Brews pie. She said prospective franchisees must demonstrate a commitment to upholding the company's culture and show a dedication to the community.

"It feels good to do good," Falk said. "That's the culture of Beans & Brews."

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Jeremy is a freelance journalist covering health, energy, labor, and local politics. Reach him at jeremy.beren@newsbreak.com.

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