JAB expands coffee empire with investment in online coffee shop Trade

JAB expands coffee empire with investment in online coffee shop Trade

The European company that bought Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain is expanding its coffee empire, bolstering its portfolio of caffeine-rich brands.

JAB Holding, a privately held company and investment arm of the wealthy Reimann family, owns such brands as Keurig Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

The company, which has been steadily building a coffee and breakfast empire over the last five years, said Thursday it has made a major investment in the launch of online craft coffee retailer Trade.

Trade aims to make buying specialty coffee simple. The brand’s website features more than 400 roasts, each with a description of where the coffee was sourced, its flavor profile and how best to brew it.

For those looking to experiment with their morning cup of Joe or are new to the coffee world, Trade can make recommendations based on shoppers’ taste preferences and how they usually make coffee at home. The brand also sells coffee makers, presses and grinders.

“By uniting premier coffee roasters with consumers across the United States in an engaging and convenient way, JAB is confident the Trade Coffee platform will elevate the coffee experience for the at-home brewer,” Bart Becht, partner and chairman at JAB, told CNBC.

JAB is no stranger to the coffee business. It began building its position in coffee and breakfast in 2012 when it took a stake in D.E. Master Blenders and bought Peet’s Coffee & Tea for $974 million and Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee for $340 million.

In the years that followed, JAB would go on to spend billions expanding its coffee empire.

Eventually in 2013, JAB agreed to pay $9.8 billion to purchase D.E. Master Blenders. That company became Jacobs Douwe Egberts when JAB merged it with the coffee division of Mondelez International in 2015, which it bought for around $4 billion.

JAB in 2014 scooped up Einstein Bagels’ parent company, Espresso House and Baresso Coffee.

In 2015, JAB purchased Keurig Green Mountain for $14 billion and coffee roaster and retailer Stumptown Coffee and coffee bar chain Intelligentsia coffee. The next year, Krispy Kreme was added to the portfolio.

Then in 2017, it scooped up Panera Bread for $7.5 billion and Au Bon Pain for an undisclosed sum later that year.

The coffee market has become more saturated in recent years, with chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s stepping up their game by launching cold brew and other, more upscale beverages, as well as ready-to-drink coffees in grocery and convenience stores.

Starbucks, too, has been making major investments in its beverages to steal market share, adding blonde roast espresso to its nationwide cafes and rare blends at its Roastery and Reserve Store locations.

Investing in Trade gives JAB one more foothold in the coffee market, this time online. Shoppers have begun to shift their spending online, opting for delivery rather than schlepping to stores.

While other coffee brands do sell online, Trade offers a more curated selection of coffees. Not to mention, coffee giant Starbucks ditched its online store in October in favor of creating in-person experiences with customers.

Trade’s coffee selection of freshly roasted beans ranges from $7.50 to $54 per package. It says all beans are shipped within 24 hours of being roasted and arrive between two to four days from the roast date.

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