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“What we’re doing translates across the globe” – 7 Brew Marketing Director, Nick Newbill

7 Brew Coffee opened its first drive-thru store in Rogers, Arkansas in 2017 and has accelerated outlet growth over the last 12 months to surpass 200 sites across 26 states in March 2024. The coffee chain’s Marketing Director Nick Newbill speaks to World Coffee Portal about the diligence required to scale at speed, why staff are ‘the secret sauce’ for customer satisfaction and tapping into new industry expertise following a major private investment round

7 Brew Coffee customers can select more than 20,000 possible beverage variations | Photo credit: 7 Brew Coffee

What have been the most significant successes and challenges over the last six years?  

One of our most significant successes includes our unit size increasing by 275% in less than a year during 2023. We’re also extremely proud of the loyal following we’ve accumulated over the years, which wouldn’t be possible without our team members and franchise partners. It’s a testament to the training we offer that we can consistently deliver superior speed, quality and customer service across all our stores.  

However, our successes have certainly not been achieved without challenges and learning opportunities. A lot of diligence is required to expand at the rate we’ve managed. That process requires a well-oiled machine when it comes to securing permits to build our modular stands, which helps simplify the overall new store opening operation, as well as hiring and training staff.

We’re also very focused on hiring and retaining the best team members. They are our ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to having happy guests. We’re all about kind, friendly and fast service with a great variety of menu items to choose from. Our team members make that possible.  

What distinguishes 7 Brew in an increasingly competitive US drive-thru coffee market? 

7 Brew stands out in the hospitality and drive-thru beverage space thanks to our culture of creating human connection and positivity. Consumers want choice and quality service, and that’s exactly what 7 Brew offers.   

Our customers can select more than 20,000 possible beverage variations from our extensive list of flavoured syrups, sweet sauces, milk alternatives and other ingredients. In addition to being able to fully customise their beverages, 7 Brew customers get excellent and efficient service. That service includes interaction with a friendly face – we don’t have any speaker boxes at our stands. Someone is always there to take orders right at the car window.   

Based on our incredible growth trajectory to date, we believe there continues to be a great need in the market for our model.  

“The team at Blackstone has incredible resources that will enable us to reach this next stage of growth” 

A 7 Brew Coffee store in Universal City, Texas | Photo credit: 7 Brew

Which trends are currently shaping the US drive-thru coffee shop market and how is 7 Brew responding to them? 

There has been a rise in technology across the drive-thru beverage space and we see this as an opportunity to connect with our customers and understand their preferences on a deeper level. We’ve seen significant success with our loyalty tech, for example. Consistently, more than 90% of transactions at 7 Brew are associated with a customer account through our loyalty programme. 

That said, tech implementation at 7 Brew is deliberately selective, leading to simplified operational costs and time investment for our franchise partners. Our simplified approach to technology increases relationship building between employee and customer. We leverage technology to complement our team members’ work, not replace them.  

We see technology as a means to log order history and beverage preferences, so that we can intuitively predict or recommend what our customers are looking for and better serve them. 

Most of our sales come from coffee items and our cold/chilled beverages. One of our newest categories is Cold Brew, which we view as promising given industry trends and customer demand.

In February 2024, 7 Brew received investment from New York-based private equity firm Blackstone. What will the funding enable the business to achieve?  

We’re on a strong growth trajectory thanks to our Brew Crew and franchisees and have found in Blackstone a partner who understands our culture. The team at Blackstone has incredible resources that will enable us to reach this next stage of growth.  

Partnering with Blackstone unlocks access to their expert industry and market knowledge, franchisee relationships, data sciences, operations, and real estate expertise.  

The whole idea of what we’re doing translates across the globe, so we want to break sales and development records, and we think Blackstone is the ideal partner to help us do that. We look forward to expanding to even more states across the US and hopefully beyond that one day.  

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