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What is Specialty Coffee and How Big is the Market for Franchisees?

By: PJ's Coffee
Category:Coffee Franchise Insights

Americans love their coffee. According to research from the National Coffee Association, 36% of Americans aged 18 and up reported that they drank a specialty coffee within a day of the survey.

So what exactly is specialty coffee? Specialty coffee is an espresso-based beverage or non-espresso-based beverage, such as cold brew made with premium coffee beans or lattes crafted by baristas.

Thanks to our high standards, we offer a wide variety of these products and a premium variety.

woman holding coffee to go cup

From Farm to Cup

Felton Jones has served as our roastmaster since 2003. He works directly with the farmers who supply our unparalleled coffee, embodying our Farm to Cup initiative. By partnering directly with farms, we are committed to sustainability by developing programs that improve health, education and housing through community initiatives.

Through frequent on-site visits, we can perform quality checks, assuring that we are using only the top 1% of specialty Arabica beans, sourcing 14 origin coffees from Ethiopia, Honduras, Colombia and Nicaragua to name a few. As a result, we not only minimize our environmental footprint, but we are serving a high-quality cup of coffee to customers.

Why Specialty Coffee Drinkers Love PJ's Coffee

Consumers who prefer specialty coffee also drink more than traditional coffee drinkers, consuming 2.7 cups compared to 2.4 cups daily. Additionally, specialty coffee drinkers are more likely to say that they prefer their coffee flavored and sweetened. Thus, we provide customers with a wider variety of coffee to choose from.

We offer an extensive everyday menu with over 30 varieties of specialty coffee drinks, teas, and smoothies, as well as a rotating seasonal menu. This ensures there is always something for everyone. However, despite our extensive menu, one item seems to be ordered more than any other: our famous iced coffee.

We brew these daily using a unique cold-drip process that protects the flavor and strength of the beans, all while producing a coffee that is two-thirds less acidic - a process pioneered by our founder.

Where Our Specialty Coffee Has Taken Us, and Where It Will

For the 16th year in a row, Fast Casual has released their "Top 100 Movers & Shakers" list, ranking PJ's Coffee of New Orleans at #71 due to our impressive growth and resilience, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the COVID-19 virus negatively impacted many businesses, the specialty coffee industry experienced the opposite effect due to more Americans experimenting with making their coffee at home. According to an article on how the recent pandemic has affected specialty coffee, Americans are more invested in their coffee than ever before.

According to the article, "Customers are becoming more aware of the quality and provenance of the coffee in their cup. This awareness should drive even more demand for specialty coffee, which will shape the industry going forward. This deeper knowledge could mean that more and more consumers push for more ethical, transparent and sustainable coffee in the long run.”

Combined with a projected increase of 20 percent per year in specialty coffee sales, we think that the future fares well for our franchisees. COVID has also affected consumer patterns, such as drive-through rates. Our drive-thru locations achieved a 12.1 percent same-store sales increase in 2020 compared to 2019. Additionally, we opened a record-setting 21 new franchise locations during 2020.

According to Ryan Stansbury, our vice president of franchise development,

"This year, we will be even better, as we are projected to surpass those numbers and expect to award over 45 new franchises and open more than 40 new stores."

Are you looking to become part of a growing franchise known for our premium coffee and green planet initiative? Contact us today to learn more!

  • $839,513*

    Average Unit
    Volume (AUV)

  • 12.1%

    Same-Store Sales Increase

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Investment Tiers
  • Traditional Model

    A larger scaled PJ's with a full service menu offering located within a strip mall or free-standing building likely featuring a drive-thru.

    • Size: 550sqft - 1,850sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $35K
    • Initial Investment: $200,775 - $584,000
  • Non-Traditional Model

    A smaller scaled PJ's possibly with a limited menu offering located within another business - College/University Campuses, Healthcare Facilities, Hotels, Government Facilities, Military Bases, Airports, Shopping Malls, Etc.

    • Size: 250sqft - 1,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $25K
    • Initial Investment: $190,775 - $393,000
  • Multi-Unit Option Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to enter into a Multi-Unit Option Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated market. The initial franchise fee for the first PJ’s location is $35,000. Subsequent PJ’s Units receive a reduced franchise fee. The fee for each PJ’s Unit numbered two or greater is $10,000.

  • Master Franchise Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to International Franchisees to enter into a Master Franchise Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated country or countries.

    • Initial Master Franchise Fee: $250k minimum (Varies depending on size of country or countries)
    • Total Investment: Varies depending on the number of PJ's developed
A Few More...
  • PJs has provided me with the flexibility to prioritize my day-to-day responsibilities. While demanding, the work/life balance I have been able to obtain while owning my locations is invaluable. PJ’s is a family-oriented brand and that is evident every day - we have great working, as well as personal, relationships with many folks at corporate. It truly is a family centered culture that I am excited to grow with! - Andrew Jones
  • We loved the products and the business model, and it all worked out so well. The ability to work with them is what sets them apart. They are very reasonable people and it’s a solid company. When we went to meet the team, everyone was super kind, and it was very apparent that they provide a ton of support to their franchisees. It’s important to feel like you can always reach out to somebody when needed. - Angela Harmon
  • I think if someone is looking for a franchise opportunity they should find something that fits their lifestyle. If you're a morning person, a coffee business might be good for you. I'm a morning person so waking up at 4 A.M. is fine, the whole 'wake up and smell the coffee' thing - that's me. - Anthony Satterlee
  • I decided to look into coffee and probably spent about 3 years doing the investigation. I decided on PJ's because the quality of the product is just head and shoulders above everybody else. - Tom Lewis
  • It's easy to be successful. You can become part of your community in a way you can't otherwise in a lot of other businesses. I would highly recommend it. - Polly Fisher
  • The best part of being a franchisee is the freedom. It gives you the opportunity to provide for your family, but also be a part of your family. It gives you time to play with your children or take a vacation, but still have a fantastic business. - Kelly Songy
  • The biggest lesson I've learned with PJ's Coffee is that you're going to get out of it, what you put into it. Buying a franchise doesn't necessarily mean you're going to reach instant success. The more work you put into it, the more successful you'll be. - Aubry Miller
  • I decided owning a PJ's Coffee shop was the way to go. From start to finish, corporate was there for me when I selected a location, ordered equipment and furniture. - Mateusz Dabrowski
  • I fell in love with PJs Coffee and the brand, years before I ever owned a location and now I own two! I wanted a business that, with the right staff, would be able to operate successfully without me having to be there all day every day. PJs coffee gives you that flexibility and freedom. I also love the family atmosphere that corporate provides and the camaraderie between franchisees is wonderful! You are in business for yourself, but not by yourself, and that is a great sense of comfort and security. I love this business!

    - Roxanne DeNicola
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