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“The goal is to move to 100% Farm-Direct” – Biggby Coffee’s Jaime Balazy

With over 360 outlets across 13 US states and 140 stores in development, Biggby Coffee is on track to reach 500 stores by the end of 2024. Director of Marketing Jaime Balazy speaks to World Coffee Portal about the chain’s growth plans, the road to drive-thru and becoming a 100% Farm-Direct company

Jaime Balazy, Director of Marketing, Biggby Coffee

What role will ‘emerging markets’ in the US play in Biggby Coffee’s goal of reaching 500 stores by the end of 2024?  

Our current emerging markets are Boise, Idaho, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia, Charlotte, Winston Salem and Raleigh, North Carolina, Chicago, Illinois and Virginia Beach, Virginia.  

We signed franchise owners who love the brand in the mid-west and wanted to take it to their neighbourhoods and into their communities. Continued growth in these markets means stronger brand recognition and an increase in consumer consideration. The emerging markets play a large role in our overall store growth goal. Biggby Coffee is currently on track to hit the goal of 500 stores by the end of next year.  

We’re also looking to grow in every state we’re currently in and aim to sign a total of 100 franchise agreements this year to fill the pipeline. However, development numbers are just one of many indicators the brand uses to evaluate its success.   

What are US coffee consumers’ biggest concerns currently and how is Biggby Coffee catering to their needs?  

Biggby Coffee continues to lean into different ways to better understand our consumers and find ways to be where they are and communicate with them in the ways they prefer. We’ve made technological advancements within our mobile app and discovered new ways to improve speed of service for the convenience factor within our cafés to better appeal to the coffee consumer, while taking into consideration the impact inflation may have.  

“Biggby Coffee customers consume around 2,000,000 pounds of our coffee each year. By 2023, half of that will be sourced directly from farmers we know are making the world a better place”

What factors differentiate Biggby Coffee in the competitive US coffee shop market?  

This question can be answered from two different perspectives. Firstly, from the franchisee perspective, we keep the initial investment low, and put a strong focus on profitability, ease of operations and franchise support.  

From a consumer angle, innovative and customisable menu offerings that are multi-generational and turn customers into fanatics. An unintimidating, approachable, sophisticated brand, and our One BIGG Island in Space (OBIIS) mission allow us to stand apart from competition.  

How does Biggby Coffee’s Farm-Direct model differ from other ethical sourcing programmes?  

Every gram of coffee that goes into your cup comes from somewhere… from someone. Co-CEO and Co-Visionary Bob Fish and his wife Michelle travel the globe to find coffee farmers that are doing the right thing for their people, their communities, and our planet. Sustainability is the key. By buying their coffee crop in a conscious way, meaning at a fair price, we can all be sure that what we drink every day is making a purposeful difference to all the stakeholders and Biggby Nation loyalty members.  

Biggby Coffee customers consume around 2,000,000 pounds of our coffee each year. By 2023, half of that will be sourced directly from farmers we know are making the world a better place. And after 2023, the goal is to move to 100% Farm-Direct. We invite customers to be right there with us as we meet the families and learn their names and their stories, bringing a name, a face, and a place to every cup of coffee that we sell.  

The goal remains clear: to offer you more than just coffee, but a narrative that connects people, passions, and places. As part of our OBIIS Mission, we currently have two Farm-Direct relationships - with the El Recreo Coffee Farm in Jinotega, Nicaragua and with the Living Hope Coffee Farm in Ndola, Zambia - and many more on the way.  

The journey isn’t just about sourcing coffee; it’s about walking the fields, sharing meals, and forging bonds with farmers and workers. Witnessing the process firsthand, we’re immersed in the art of coffee cultivation, guided by long-term relationships and shared values. Farmers receive fair compensation for their hard work, and we delight in the richness of the coffee they produce.  

Biggby Coffee currently operates more than 360 outlets across 13 US states | Photo credit: Biggby Coffee

Which store formats are you currently investing in?  

Biggby Coffee offers a wide range of different store types. Our big three include our ‘traditional’ location, which is commonly inside a strip centre or endcap with a lobby and drive-thru, modular drive-thru only (BCubed), and site-built drive-thru only concepts as well. In addition, we also have kiosk models that have a much smaller footprint.  

While we have seen growth holistically, we have seen an increase in performance from our locations that have a drive-thru option in an array of different markets.   

At the end of the day, we are working on keeping the initial investment as low as possible and bring the store type that fits the community the best. Each franchisee and territory are unique. There is a lot of time, effort, and research that goes into determining the ideal store type for each of our communities. 

Beside outlet growth, what will be Biggby Coffee’s main focuses in 2024 and beyond?  

Biggby Coffee is a purpose-driven organisation that helps spread love and strives to do good in the world through the medium of coffee. We are committed to working towards being a leader in improving workplace culture in the US and becoming a 100% Farm-Direct coffee company. We believe in supporting people in building a life they love - our franchisees, coffee farmers, vendor partners, baristas, Home Office staff and beyond. 

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