New CEO and New Direction for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

An Interview with Sanjiv Razdan, President

Despite the many challenges over the past 15 months, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf have continued to experience growth. With a full head of steam, the iconic California coffee brand is heading in a new direction. Industry veteran Sanjiv Razdan (former COO of Sweetgreen, Applebee’s, and Yum Brands) has just recently started as the new President of the Americas and Indian market. They have big plans of expansion for the company, so Sanjiv and I took a moment to discuss what got him interested in coffee and where he wants to take it.

“Our vision is to be a coffee authority and be among the top two specialty coffee brands. We plan to achieve this through winning on taste.” – Sanjiv Razdan

Jake – Have you had any experience in coffee before? What interested you in it?

Sanjiv – No, no prior experience in the category. It’s always been fast and casual dining. I see some similarities where you are taking care of your guests and customers and an experience is your core offering. This is pretty common in all foodservice and that is where I feel very comfortable. There is something very unique about the coffee business and I am still learning the nuances of that. One thing I have observed is the kind of people that are attracted to work at a café, particularly our baristas and it is a wonderfully eclectic mix of creative, interesting passionate individuals that love coffee. They have a wonderful perspective and creativity in working with our guests and our menu. I have enjoyed this.

In the coffee category – the expectation of engagement from one’s barista is much higher than it is from a quick-service concept. Someone that goes to a café is looking for that engagement and personal attention. Even if it is only for a minute or a few seconds, it is a very important component of the experience.

We understand the barista interaction is critical to that experience. We put focus on our baristas through training, recognition, and empowering them. This is very important and very different from most quick service. A little escape through your beverage is a wonderful idea and the barista provides that.

The updated CBTL retail experience

To read the rest of the interview on CoffeeTalk click here:

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