How do you get your caffeine fix these days? This French press that you bought last year during the lockdown, have you ever figured out how to use it? Can you run an afternoon Zoom meeting without the 3pm Frappuccino you counted on in the office?
Dutch Bros., an Oregon-based company with drive-thru coffee shops scattered mostly on the West Coast, made an impressive initial public offering earlier this week. With so many people still working from home, it might seem like an odd time for a business that relies on the morning commute to go public.
But coffee habits can change. One thing I never miss from “times before?” That feeling when you haven’t had your coffee, you’re stuck in the back of a 1,000-person line at Starbucks, wondering if you’re being punished for something.
Well, the “times before” are alive and well, at least at this Dutch Bros kiosk in south Sacramento. I’m in one of the two drive-thru lanes across from interior designer Kasey Kiesz.
âUmm, I’ll have a Caramelizer,â she said. What is a caramelizer? It’s probably Dutch Bros’ version of a Starbucks caramel macchiato.
I am in my Camry. Both lanes are filled with about 10 cars each. Kiesz said the lines are almost always this long. that does not surprise Sean Dunlop, Analyst at Morningstar. These days, the suburbs are buzzing with telecommuters.
âReal estate with drive-thru is attractive because people go to the cafe to watch a football game,â Dunlop said.
Or on my way to school now that it’s happening again. And customers always feel more secure in their cars thanks to the rise of the delta variant.
Longer term, coffee companies are turning to drive-thru because they require fewer employees, Dunlop said.
âWe are still short of around a million workers in the restaurant industry and wages have increased by around 10%. Drive-thru therefore offers a way to take some labor out of the equation, âhe said.
Dutch Bros specializes in that gray area where coffee meets dessert, like Kiesz’s $ 3 Caramelizer. This menu makes its expansion plans less dependent on the morning commute, according to Caleb bryant, analyst at Mintel.
âThere has been a noticeable increase in the number of consumers ordering specialty coffee drinks, cold coffee drinks and many tasty coffee drinks,â he said.
This is because you can make old filter coffee at home. But if you’re out and about you want something special, like the Macadamia Nut Annihilator that I ended up ordering.
“Did you want a whip or a drizzle with that?” Asked the barista.
I opted for the whip and the drizzle. I deserved it. It was a long queue.