Jacob Jaber

CEO of Philz Coffee

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 21, 2017

Discussion

Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
Hi I'm Jacob and I'm super excited to be here today! A bit about me –at around the age of 18 I started running Philz Coffee full-time, after years of helping my dad in the original Philz location in San Francisco’s Mission district. I'm incredibly proud to say that the hard work and passion is paying off with Philz having since grown from 1 location to over 40 locations across 3 markets, with Encinitas opening just last week and Boston on the way! I’m most passionate about our customers, our employees and creating a strong company culture, expansion while keeping true to your roots, and about thinking counter-intuitively when it comes to creating and serving a product people love. Ask me anything.
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
hey jacob honest to god: how much of your quarterly revenue is consumed by @rrhoover ?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@andreasklinger @rrhoover Ryan is an icon. HIs contributions can't be quantified :)
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
@jacobjaber @rrhoover ok won't let you off the hook that easy i am sure you have to have your own key account manager for him by now honestly - he drinks more philz coffee in a day than other people do drink water you know the number i am sure how much coffee/coffee-dollars does he drink in a month? if you dont want to share consumer insights publicly i get it - but give a hint 4 digit coffee-dollars? it wont be 5 right?
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@andreasklinger @jacobjaber you know, I'm itching for another cup of Silken Splendor. brb... 🏃
Philip Kuklis@philipkuklis · Co-Founder, Hubble
Hi Jacob, what's an interesting fact about coffee that most people don't know?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@philipkuklis Lighter roasts are more caffeinated than darker roasts!
Chris Messina@chrismessina · 🏆 PH Community Member of the Year!
@jacobjaber @philipkuklis I knew that (because darker roasts are roasted longer, and therefore destroy more of the caffeine molecules)! :)
Rajoshi Ghosh@rajoshighosh · Co-founder, Hasura
Hey @jacobjaber, curious to know about what's the most counter intuitive insight that you've had recently about your product/customer :)
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@rajoshighosh It continues to surprise me how powerful perception really is. Managing perception is just as important as managing the real thing. For example, a line could send the message to one that the wait is long but that's not necessarily true.
Austin Sandmeyer@as_austin · Thinker/Student/Rockstar
Hey @jacobjaber! Lover of Philz Coffee and of course the Caffeinated Kitty! I'm really interested in your viewpoint on Starbucks recent "mild-expansion" and movement into the more high-level offerings with "Premium Roasters" and the "experience" aspect of the coffee industry. When you look at the coffee industry as a whole do you see and "shifts" happening?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@as_austin Hey Austin, great question. Starbucks's original core competency was coffee but over the decades as they've expanded it's shifted to operations. With new players in the game schooling them in many ways, they recognized they need to go back to the basics and the easiest way to implement was to create something new. Will be interesting to see what happens. All in all, I think there is room for everyone to succeed who brings unique value.
IdeaSpies@ideaspies · A hub for inspiration
@jacobjaber @as_austin Why do you think Starbucks failed in Australia? Australians love coffee but not Starbucks..
Very excited that Philz is coming back to Marin with the new Corte Madera location this summer. On that note, how do you manage growth and your pace of expansion while maintaining the experience and consistent quality that people associate with Philz?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@cgomez It's tough! The simple answer is an unwavering commitment to our core values. The more complex answer is in the actual work we do everyday to uphold them. For example, our hiring standards are probably on par with google for engineers. We created Philz University where we invest heavily in every new team member. Every team member, even if your an executive goes through Barista training. Barista training lasts for 15 days and costs us thousands of dollars. We invest in our people. These examples are just the beginning at the things we do.
Rebecca Du@beckydu512 · Product Manager, Zeta Interactive
How did it feel to start running Philz Coffee full time at the age of 18?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@beckydu512 It didn't feel much different than being a Barista :)... It was my dad and I working side by side for 12+ hours a day 7 days a week. It was a lot of work but so rewarding at the same time. This is where I built so many wonderful relationships with customers I still know and see today. As a young ceo, the biggest challenge was not knowing what I didn't know. I solved that by seeking guidance, keeping an open mind, asking stupid questions with focus on the right answer, crazy strong determination, competitiveness and passion for quality and people. I still have a lot to learn but I believe determination w/ a great ability to learn trumps any academic accolade.
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
Hey! I just noticed the menu changed last week (or couple weeks ago). No more It's The Best. How'd you all decide on what blends to keep and which to remove?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@mscccc Great question. Firstly it was hard. 10 of our blends account for close to 90% of what we sell. In addition to that we are always trying to improve coffee quality. We found that by removing the absolute lowest sellers, we can improve the overall customer experience. The good news is, there are fantastic alternatives and no shortage of varieties. If you like it's the best try half Julies Ultimate and half Silken Splendor. It's a fantastic combo. I get my coffee with honey and cream all the time!
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@jacobjaber thanks! will give that a try :)
Hello Jacob! What is the most difficult management task regarding your whole barista team? (From Motivation to accountability) Thanks!!
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@hectorhs7 It's really hard being a Barista, especially at Philz. Everything is handmade, we are a high volume business and our service is very high touch. Not easy to sustain, especially over a long period of time. We have fantastic people and ensuring we have the right leadership investing in them is the key. People is our focus.
Alex Baker-Whitcomb@awhitcom · Founder of Whitcomb Works
If you could go back give yourself 1-2 pieces of advice when you first started your company at zero, what would it be?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@awhitcom Great question. I've always loved getting advice but ensuring you surround yourself with the right people makes the difference. Surround yourself with people who intrigue you, challenge you and share a sincere concern for your success and happiness. Anything less than that is no good when your trying to grow.
Jas Chimni@jas_chimni · Product Analyst
Hi Jacob, How have you differentiated your brand from big coffee chains like Starbucks?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@jas_chimni Secret recipe menu blends developed by my dad Phil over decades of exploration and experimentation, brewing process, people and mission. We see ourselves as being in the people and community business, not just the coffee business.
Zach Wendkos@zwendkos · CXO, TrueFire
How has the emergence of e-commerce (and/or delivery services) impacted a traditionally brick & mortar business like Philz? Also, how do you think coffee shop tech or customer experience will evolve over the next 5 years or so?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@zwendkos There is absolutely a shift in consumer behavior and mobile has been at the heart of it. I think retail needs to meet at least one end of the spectrum. Hyper experiential < > Hyper convenient.
Anthony Liang@liangtfm · Co-founder, Hand & Terry
Can you share the location of the Boston shop yet?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@liangtfm Not just yet! :) .... We're so excited to share Philz in the different communities. Make sure to follow us on social media to stay up to date. In the meantime, tell your friends we are coming!
Ryan Williams@ryanstu89 · Food & Beverage Ops, Finance & Writing
Hi @JacobJaber - can you share your thought on the cold brew / nitro ready-to-drink space? The offerings from brands like Califia, RISE and La Colombe are all really impressive (and personally speaking more convenient at times than going to a coffee shop) and I'm wondering if Philz plans to have a RTD of its own? Appreciate your thoughts!
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@ryanstu89 I love how convenient RTD is but I don't think it will replace the behavior of the mass coffee drinking community. I think for a segment of customers it will be incremental and in some cases substitutive but not disruptive. Maybe one day we'll have our own as an offering.
Ryan Williams@ryanstu89 · Food & Beverage Ops, Finance & Writing
@jacobjaber Got it. I agree - RTD convenience sacrifices community, which is a huge part of coffee culture. Thank you for your response!
Chris Messina@chrismessina · 🏆 PH Community Member of the Year!
Hey @jacobjaber, how do you feel the single origin coffee business is shaping up? Do you feel like small producers are better off now, in the third wave of coffee, or are their efforts in jeopardy, thanks to Big Coffee (K Cups, etc)?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@chrismessina This is a complicated issue. Firstly, there is a tremendous amount of work done by farmers who live a sub-par quality of life. I think every coffee company who's succeeding has the responsibility to contribute to these people beyond purchasing beans. For example, we contribute 4 cents of every pound we buy to Food 4 Farmers which is an organization dedicated to helping farmers live more sustainably throughout the year. During the high coffee season they can afford to buy food, during the low coffee season, they struggle so the idea is to diversify crops and industry to help generate a more consistent cash flow throughout the year. Bottom line is the more empathy we can have throughout the supply chain, the better. The good news is the 3rd wave and others are more focused on this now than ever.
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · Words @ProductHunt & @AngelList
Hey Jacob! Curious, how did you find out about Product Hunt / that Ryan started it out of Philz Coffee? 🤔
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@nivo0o0 I met Ryan as a customer at one of our stores in San Francisco. I forgot how we got introduced but he would always post about Philz and spend time at our stores working and drinking. Everyone at the store new him! When I later found out that he created Product Hunt, I was not surprised. Ryan's, passion, commitment and energy are a recipe for success. Most importantly, he's a really nice person.
Ayrton De Craene@ayrton · Code @ Product Hunt
Was there a moment for you when you knew Philz was going to be such a success?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@ayrton From the early days I knew what we we're doing mattered. People would come back everyday. What I discovered early is that what we're doing, wasn't about coffee, it's an everyday luxury that uplifts people and overtime strengthens the community. I'm really excited about scaling that.
Jevin Sew@jevinsew · Rails / iOS developer
Hey Jacob, curious to hear how you source your coffee? Do you tend to go for something you like personally? Or something you think your customers would like?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@jevinsew Our Director of Coffee has fantastic relationships with growers, farms and coffee brokers around the world. Our blends are made up of many different single origin beans from different parts of the world. Some of the criteria we use are quality (we use a grading scale to measure this), good farming practices for both the bean and the farmers, relationships (how well we know the people), and more..
Sam Cash@sam__cash
what's the hardest thing in getting unit economics of sites to work?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@sam__cash Understand the economics of your product/service really well. Choose a location that gives you strong margin to succeed w/ the potential to grow. You should not accept single digit margins as a small business.
Mohit@mohitify · Developer - Product - UX - Mobile - SF
What is the main difference between you and your dads way of running differently? When you took helm of Philz Coffee what did you do differently from your dad?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@mohitify My dad is old school. He has some of the strongest business chops i've witnessed and when you combine that with courage it becomes a magical blend. I learned more from my dad than i'm aware of. I of course grew up in different times and conditions. My dad struggled, and even though we didn't have a lot growing up, I haven't struggled and went through the same hard times my dad did. I'm always cognizant because hard times build character and wisdom. My dad and I are both optimistic and action oriented. I'd I embrace technology a bit more than he does but we share the same values and want the same outcome. I can write a book about this but hopefully this is a good start to the answer!
Mohit@mohitify · Developer - Product - UX - Mobile - SF
@jacobjaber Thanks for your answer. Follow up question :) What is the single most important thing you did differently than your dad?
Jacob Jaber@jacobjaber · ceo, philz coffee
@mohitify Built a team.