Born and raised in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, Jeff began his career as an electrical engineer (P.Eng Memorial University, 1997), working worldwide for telecom companies as far flung as California and South Korea (Com21 and Sungil), as well as right here at home in Newfoundland (Cable Atlantic). But it was his experience volunteering with Rotary Club that got Jeff into coffee roasting. After tinkering in his home with improving roasting techniques for coffee, Jeff hit on the idea of a Rotary fundraiser around premium, locally roasted beans, and this larger scale operation was so popular, Jumping Bean Coffee Company was soon born (2005).
Since the beginning, Jeff has followed the service-before-self principles of the Rotary Club, and has spent his time building a business designed around the idea that social ideals, innovation, and top quality product can combine to Engineer the Perfect Cup of coffee. Applying careful research to this core philosophy, Jeff has managed to build the biggest and best independent coffee roasting company in Atlantic Canada.
Jumping Bean’s story is one of social responsibility meeting innovative thinking and old fashioned hard work. Jeff sources only organic and fair trade certified beans from single origin farmers and has them shipped to Newfoundland on a scale that dwarfs other local roasters. These beans are then roasted right here with his unique Eco2Roast process, saving a pound of carbon per pound of beans. This means the beans not only are environmentally and socially “cleaner” than the competition, but they are reaching store shelves within a week of being roasted, and are therefore much fresher. Even Jumping Bean’s Keurig compatible coffee pods (a major source of landfill concern) are compostable. This is why not only Atlantic Canada has embraced the brand (through Colemans, Sobeys, Costco, Pipers, etc), but so has the rest of Canada (through Target, and numerous independent retailers).
Besides his volunteer work with the Rotary Club, Jeff LeDrew has served on the Board of Directors for the St. John’s Board of Trade (after having twice won their Business Excellence Award in 2009 and 2010), and was a long time member of the PEG-NL.
BeTheBoss: Tell us about the Jumping Bean franchise concept.
Jeff LeDrew: Jumping Bean Coffee Company is an independent importer, roaster, distributor, and retailer of premium, socially- and environmentally-responsible coffee products. We have an extensive selection of single origin and blends that are certified organic, fair trade, come from single origin farmers, and are roasted with our unique ECO2Roast technology that saves a pound of carbon per pound of beans. Even our single serve Keurig compatible coffee pods will soon be 100% compostable, a world first. The food offering is based on premium in-house lunches (soups, sandwiches, bagels, muffins, treats, etc.) and we provide professional catering services for business and social gatherings.
Our franchise opportunity is for Jumping Bean cafes and catering services. Our cafes are stylish, professionally designed spaces geared to community use - whether to work in a relaxed environment, conduct lunch meetings for business or pleasure, rest with the family on a weekend afternoon, or simply sit and read. Our baristas know our clients by name and are experts in specialty coffee techniques and customer service. Each Jumping Bean cafe is the heart of the neighbourhood it finds itself in. Our customers are those who want premium taste at a reasonable price, both financially and environmentally.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with coffee roasting? What was your background prior to founding Jumping Bean?
JLD: I started my career as an electrical engineer, working in telecom for large corporate companies from Canada to the USA to Korea. As a lover of high end coffee, I tinkered with roasting small batches of beans in my home, for my own private use. With my engineering skills I quickly noted inefficiencies in the system and was able to fine-tune my process to use less energy and resources to prepare even better results. As a volunteer with The Rotary Club of St. John's, where I internalized the philosophy of service-before-self, I came upon the idea of holding a fundraiser coffee event and so began roasting on a larger scale. Soon after, in 2005, Jumping Bean Coffee Company was born and I never looked back. From our humble beginnings with one cafe in St. John's, we've expanded both regionally and nationally as a manufacturer and distributor of premium coffee products. Our products are on store shelves across Atlantic Canada (Sobeys, Costco, Colemans, and numerous independent retailers) and we have 12 locations across Newfoundland and are looking to expand into the rest of Atlantic Canada and beyond.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Jumping Bean franchisee?
JLD: Besides being your own boss and making money, franchisees can expect their place of business to become a hub for community involvement and activity. Jumping Bean's reputation for social and environmental responsibility will draw a coffee culture to it, and for those who don't go in for that sort of thing, one taste of the brand will change their minds. We have a saying at Jumping Bean: Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Bad Coffee. Our goals is to engineer not only the perfect cup, but the perfect cafe experience. Once people waiting in a drive-thru line at a national chain realize they can get coffee that tastes this much better with better value, you will see the conversions beginning. AND when these people find their morning cup served by friendly, knowledgable, professional baristas in a stylish and welcoming environment, they'll keep coming back. It's a simple formula: great product + great people + great service = loyal customers.
BTB: Who is the ideal Jumping Bean franchisee?
JLD: Our ideal is someone who not only has a good head for business and the food services industry, but who is also an advocate of community building and believes in socially- and environmentally-sustainable business practices. Does this mean you need to be a flower child? No! But it does mean we are looking for people who can get behind the idea that it's not difficult to leave the world a better place than we came into it. All it takes is a will from those in charge. If you are the sort of person who is good with people (staff and customers), who loves our premium products and can be an ambassador for the brand as a whole as well as at the cafe level, and who has a sense of the needs of your community, this opportunity might be for you. Service before self is a founding principle of our organization.
We can provide the franchisee with:
- Specialty coffee training
- Staff modeling and accurate cost-of-goods calculations and weekly monthly yearly ROI
- Upbeat modern brand with complementary product to diversify your drink and food offering
- A service and product you can feel good about and enjoy making a difference
- Advice on marketing and brand-messaging
The franchisee brings the following:
- Excellent work ethic with a customer-first philosophy
- Understanding of the techniques and work load to ensure you will be successful
- A service-before-self attitude to ensure the standards and quality go above and beyond
- A desire to engage customers so they know you want and appreciate their business
BTB: Tell us about the premium coffee market franchise.
JLD:Coffee roasting and distribution is a market with intense competition, mostly ruled by multinational corporations. What sets Jumping Bean apart from the Starbucks and Tim Hortons of the world is our focus on social and environmental sustainability as well as our focus on people. Jumping Bean's signature ECO2 roasts (from East Coast to Lighthouse to Deep Water Dark to Screech Rum flavoured, and more) are on shelves throughout Atlantic Canada by Sobeys, Costco, Pipers, and numerous independent retailers. Canada-wide, Jumping Bean appeared on the shelves of Target. Our newest products include a range of our most popular roasts in Keurig compatible single-serve coffee pods that are 100% biodegradable. Yes, that's right. 100%. Even our most convenient product is socially responsible. Jumping Bean although founded in the East is poised for national growth. We have a diverse product line, ties to retail with regional and national grocery and furthermore a complimentary tea brand for further reach to our customer base.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
JLD:The greatest lesson is the clear understanding of the numbers and relationship to service and sales. Understanding the right product mix to focus on, and ensuring the model is being followed. Engaging with your customers and being a part of your community and network are key. People do business with people they respect and have earned their business.
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
JLD: There are many great individuals in the franchise community that have provided advice and assistance with the growth of our system. I believe in innovation and constant adaptation to the customer’s needs. I hope to use the knowledge I’ve gained to be a mentor to any Jumping Bean franchisees.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
JLD: This is a competitive business, the franchisee needs to understand the numbers and evaluate them weekly and adapt to their market. Understanding the positioning and reaching out to new customers and your target market is key. The customer experience can be very rewarding and the coffee business is an excellent business to enjoy from a business and enthusiast perspective. The business element does take dedication and a strong work ethic. But a better understanding of the challenges as well as the opportunities will bridge the transition to success. The more you know about what’s involved in running successful cafes the better decision you can make. This is why we will train and advise our franchisees thoroughly during the start-up process.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Jumping Bean franchise would be a great opportunity for someone?
JLD: Coffee culture is a still-expanding market in all communities. As the culture matures, customers seek more than the national and international corporate experience. They want more than contests and light roasts, and more than overpriced, bitter dark roasts. They want an experience that is both worldly and local. Premium roasts from around the world; stylish, cosmopolitan design and decor; world-class service and yet local recognition. Customers want a place to call a home away from home, a place that offers the excitement and social opportunities of being out of the house, yet feels as comfortable and inviting as sitting with a cup in their living room window. With our help, a Jumping Bean franchisee can create this culture in his or her community, ensuring a healthy, loyal clientele that will come for the taste and stick around for the atmosphere.