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Scooter’s Coffee reaches 800 stores as US drive-thru coffee competition heats up

The Nebraska-based drive-thru coffee chain says recent distribution network investment leave it well placed for further expansion – but drops target to reach 1,000 stores by the end of 2024

Scooter’s is the second largest drive-thru only operator in the US behind 870-store Dutch Bros | Photo credit: Scooter’s Coffee


Nebraska-based Scooter’s Coffee has reached 800 stores in the US with a new site in Louisville, Kentucky – six months later than originally planned. 

However, with the milestone site opening six months later than planned, the drive-thru coffee chain has also dropped its target of reaching 1,000 outlets by the end of 2024 but remains confident of achieving its goal in the near-term. 

The franchise-focused operator is the fifth largest branded coffee shop chain in the US and the second largest drive-thru only operator behind Oregon-based Dutch Bros, which has more than 870 sites. 

Its new Louisville outlet is owned by existing franchisees Jamie Stapleton and Joshua Johnston, who now operate eight Scooter’s Coffee stores in Kentucky under their iHeartCoffee franchise. 

In February 2024, Scooter’s Coffee and its vertically integrated roasting division Harvest Roasting announced plans to open its sixth and largest distribution centre in the US. The 183,000sq ft Indiana site will directly support over 300 stores across the midwest. 

“This continued growth in our store count and distribution network positions us well to reach and surpass the 1,000-store mark, but we do not currently have a specific timeline for this milestone,” a Scooter’s Coffee spokesperson told World Coffee Portal. 

Drive-thru is an increasingly popular store-format for US consumers, with those surveyed by World Coffee Portal in 2023 citing the accessibility of stores and speed of service as key benefits.  

World Coffee Portal’s Project Café USA 2024 found that 24% of US coffee consumers surveyed had used a drive-thru for their most recent coffee shop visit – nearly half as many as used in-store staff service (50.7%). Additionally, 56% of those surveyed indicated a preference for drive-thru over entering a coffee shop. 

The popularity of the format has proven lucrative for US coffee chains, but the market is increasingly competitive. Market leaders Starbucks and Dunkin’ both offer drive-thru at more than half of their US sites, with the former leaning on drive-thru only and delivery-only sites to lead outlet growth in its domestic market. 

Alongside fast-growing Dutch Bros, fellow drive-thru coffee shop operators The Human Bean, 7 Brew Coffee and Black Rock Coffee Bar have all achieved significant outlet growth within the last 12 months. 

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