Pairing Colombia-sourced espresso with a cold-pressed carrot-pineapple juice may sound counterintuitive, but for Verve Coffee Roasters, the combination was a no-brainer. The Los Angeles–based operator partnered with another local quick serve, Juice Served Here, to open a 1,600-square-foot combo store in the fashion district in February.
“Juice Served Here, who are friends, have great branding, an incredibly high-quality beverage that’s cold-pressed,” says Chris Jordan, CEO of Verve. “It seemed like a natural fit for us, and we’re really excited about how that will work in downtown L.A.”
While specialty juices are continuing to populate health food stores across the country, the Golden State—and southern California in particular—has an affinity for brick-and-mortar juice bars second to none. Even popular food blogger/L.A. resident Joy Wilson wrote in 2013, “We don’t meet for soy lattes anymore, we meet for spin class and expensive bottled juices.”
Nevertheless, Americans—Angelenos included—show no sign of giving up their java. They just now want another beverage paired beside it.
Jordan and his partners considered having side-by-side units or a small juice bar within the shop, but ultimately decided that a streamlined approach would best serve the needs of their customers.
“I just envision myself coming in and wanting almost always to have juice and coffee together and having to go to two POS’s or even having to go to two different employees for different sets of expertise really felt to me cumbersome,” Jordan says. He adds that with one POS and all servers trained to make both coffee and juice, the process is seamless.
The collaboration has also fueled menu innovation. Even before the fashion district store opened, Verve and Juice Served Here worked together to create an almond milk used by both operators. Other cooperative specialties include a cold-brewed latte with raw coconut milk and the Bold Soul, which combines chamomile tea and raw, steamed coconut milk.
“From very early stages they’ve carried our coffee, we’ve experimented together, and part of [the purpose of] the store is to continue to provide new innovations,” Jordan says. “You’ll see more beverage innovation out of that store that will sometimes be exclusive to that store.”
The newest store is the fourth Verve location with three more slated to open before the end of the year. Jordan says that those units will not be combination stores, although they will carry bottled Juice Served Here beverages, as well as other health-minded beverages like kombucha.
“I think craft coffee and third-wave coffee is here to stay. The juice segment is a great pairing with it,” Jordan says.
By Nicole Duncan