The global coffee beans market is projected to reach $42.5 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. And the fruit and vegetable juice segment is expected to be roughly $229 billion by 2030.
The predictions are nothing but good news for global concept Joe & the Juice, the rare fast-casual that manages to play in both beverage segments, from its drip coffee, ice latte, and grey macchiato to its lineup of creatively named juices—Iron Man (apples, strawberries, kiwi, ice), Hell of a Nerve (elderflower, banana, strawberries), and Pick Me Up (apple, strawberries, banana, ice).
The beauty of it, CEO Thomas Nørøxe says, is Joe & the Juice sees no cannibalization between the two products. To him, juice makes up the DNA of the brand, but coffee attracts the frequency and daily routine.
Those are the first points of contact for fresh customers. Once guests are drawn in, their attention heads toward portable sandwiches and breakfast bowls fit for an accelerating digital age.
“Going into a new market, it does take some time to really gain the trust from the guests,” Nørøxe says. “But when we have been there for some time, we really see that the demand for the juice, coffee, and sandwiches are pretty similar from market to market, and the [menu] mix that we see, it is also quite similar from market to market. What we have seen is that our products are as well perceived on the West Coast as in London.”
Consumer demand for Joe & the Juice’s products has been on the rise, to the point sales are “significantly above,” pre-pandemic numbers, Nørøxe says. The CEO attributes multiple factors. For one, the brand leverages a modernized app tailored to consumers’ preferences, with a loyalty program in which guests can earn points and unlock tiers.
Founder: Kaspar Basse
Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark
Year Started: 2002
Annual Sales: $170 million (2021)
Total Units: 311 globally: 64 in the U.S.
Nørøxe also believes increased awareness of health and wellness amid the spread of COVID thrusted his brand into the spotlight. That is likely to keep growing, per research from The National Restaurant Association. In the organization’s 2022 State of the Industry report, chefs across the industry listed immunity-boosting snacks and immunity-boosting/functional ingredients among their top 10 culinary trends for this year.
“One that we really put a lot of focus on early in the pandemic was the health and wellness pillar,” Nørøxe says. “We don't want to be religious about the health aspects of our products, but we want to offer you healthy and good-for-you alternatives to other players on the street.”
Joe & the Juice, founded 20 years ago by Kaspar Basse, oversees more than 300 locations across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, including roughly 65 stores in the U.S. The plan is to double to 600 units by 2025, with 200 more in Europe and 100 domestically.
Stores range from 850 to 2,150 square feet, and typically work best in central business districts that have access to affluent customer bases. Nørøxe explains Joe & the Juice is able to operate with a lower AUV than fellow quick-service players because of lower costs, like not requiring a kitchen.
The brand has presences in the largest metro markets the U.S. has to offer, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Washington, D.C. There is precedent for Joe & the Juice to move out of bigger cities, however. The brand has been in the Danish market for multiple decades and eventually moved to rural locales, and Nørøxe thinks something similar could happen domestically with the chain entering Midwestern towns. But that would take about 10 years, the CEO says.
Because of Joe & the Juice’s portability, the brand also plays well in nontraditional travel outlets like airports and railway stations. The chain’s ability to provide convenience led to a number of conversations around drive-thru, which is a channel the concept is currently experimenting with. Nørøxe says Joe & the Juice has “a lot of designs in the drawer” and drive-thru is an area where “we know that we will be successful.”
To build culture and leverage supply chain benefits, Joe & the Juice will continue to build inside existing markets. Nørøxe says the idea is to cherry pick the best sites in Chicago and Southern California instead of being in a situation where the company needs to find 20 new sites in a certain region.
“We can pick up some of the trends on the West Coast and then take them with us to New York, to London, thereby getting impressions from many different trends out there to really ensure that we also have the fresh new products for tomorrow,” Nørøxe says.
“… If for one reason or the other many people are focusing on Chicago and driving up rents, then OK, let's focus on New York the next 18 months,” he adds.
Although units are thousands of miles apart, Nørøxe says the company digitally manages operations from headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, whether the locations are nearby or on the West or East Coast. Also, the most talented employees will travel between stores—say from Europe to San Francisco—to ensure alignment of culture and find the best workers in the area.
“Talking about the lifestyle and entertainment pillar, we believe that we have the best juice, but at the same time, we’re also realistic enough to understand that other people can also make that juice, so it’s about the execution and if you're getting that juice and experience in coming to our bars,” Nørøxe says. “Therefore, if we do not have the right workforce in certain regions, it puts some constraints on how many new openings we can do in a certain region.”
A majority of locations are company-owned, but Joe & the Juice does franchise in countries where it’s more profitable to partner with operators who have deep track records of opening multi-unit concepts.
This will soon include the Middle East, a venture Joe & the Juice has been trying to move forward with for the past decade. Training is now digitized and the design process was built so customers in those regions receive the same experiences as those in New York or London. In April, the brand announced a franchise agreement with Veda Inc and its subsidiary, Lavoya, which calls for 10 stores in the next two years.
The goal for 2022 is to build between 35–40 units and increase that pace for 2023. At press time, Nørøxe called March the best month in history, despite Q1 typically being a low-performing season.
That level of success is expected to continue throughout this year.
“The expectation for ’22 is really getting on the other side of the pandemic and really delivering growth,” Nørøxe says. “This is also the commitment we've gotten from our board and really putting much more effort into our pipeline.”