A Family-Owned Coffee Chain Continues to Expand

Small Business Spotlight: Philz Coffee

Who: Jacob Jaber, @PhilzCoffee

What: A family-owned coffee chain makes a splash in the Bay Area

When: 2003

Where: San Francisco, California

How: “My dad is Phil, and when he was a little kid, he sold coffee beans door to door. At 20, he opened up a grocery store in the Mission District, but he always maintained a passion for coffee and experimenting with beans from around the world,” says Philz Coffee CEO Jacob Jaber.

“One day, he shared a blend with regulars who loved it, so he started selling coffee at the store. And in 2003, the first Philz Coffee opened.”

Jaber started running the business full time at the age of 18, having been involved with the grocery store since the age of 10. There are currently 13 stores in the Bay Area, with several more on the way, says Jaber.

Biggest challenge: “We’re committed to delivering a great customer experience … we like to think of ourselves as a people business that serves coffee, rather than as a coffee business,” says Jaber, citing hiring as the greatest challenge that the company faces.

“We give our employees a lot of freedom and autonomy, so we need to make sure they’re personable. They are our brand, and our No. 1 marketing tool,” he adds.

One moment in time:  Jaber has a hard time singling out one accomplishment that he’s most proud of. “Every store is an accomplishment, and every day … I don’t think about it as reaching certain milestones. I’m not complacent, and I know we’ve got a long way to go,” says Jaber.

Best business advice: Jaber advises others to focus on passion first, and then figure out how to make money off of it: “If you love what you do, you haven’t worked a day in your life.”

Most influential book: Jaber cites two books as being particularly influential, both personally and professionally: “The Law of Success,” by Napoleon Hill, and “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. “I’m a firm believer in acting,” says Jaber. “Talk is cheap … Make stuff happen and stop talking about doing it!”

Quote from the owner: “We’re more like a bar than a coffee shop in that everything is handcrafted one cup at a time in a personalized fashion by a barista. We specialize in secret recipe coffee blends from around the world.”

We’re highlighting small businesses from around the country as nominated by you, our readers. If your favorite small business is using Twitter to communicate with customers, let us know about it @fbsmallbiz with the hashtag #mysbc, and it may be featured as an upcoming Small Business Spotlight.