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First Person: A conversation with Phil Jaber

Original post made on Apr 16, 2012

Phil Jaber, founder of Philz Coffee, talks about his history in the Bay Area and the challenges and triumphs of opening the popular string of coffee shops. Philz Coffee has nine Bay Area locations, including two in Palo Alto and one in Menlo Park. Interview by Lisa Van Dusen. Video by Rachel Hatch. [Web Link ==B Watch full video==]

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, April 15, 2012, 8:33 AM

Comments (14)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jane Kershner
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

Not only is Philz delicious coffee and a fun place to go, but Phil and Jacob are interesting, kind and funny people. Met you guys at the Chick's going away party in Burlingame and have been fans ever since!


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Posted by Hanna
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2012 at 8:03 am

Phil needs to not take interviews. Was this an impromptu visit to Philz? What a man with words, what gems, here:
'Coffee, it makes you exist', and 'my coffee, it makes you calm'.

What? You are here to make a profit, I seriously am tired of these companies that act like they're some sort of philanthropist for bringing their brand to us, at $3.50 per small cup of coffee, Phil, keep putting your 'Philz Fedoras' up for sale, and your Philz T-Shirts, yes oh yes, you do like it here.

Phil you might look into the parking problem on Forest Avenue, how many times have I seen near-miss accidents due to people just having to park directly on Forest.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2012 at 8:34 am



At the mid town location there are 4 coffee shops--plus 711, Safeway , Mikes etc that all serve various coffee drinks.

At the down town location their are 9 other coffee shops within 2 blocks.

They cannot ALL survive.

In these economic times people will not the price of a gallon of gas for a small cup of coffee.


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Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

Sharon - people do


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Posted by coffee snob
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:34 am

Long line at Forest Philz yesterday. Great coffee, entertaining staff, pleasant place to hang out. Where else can you have so much fun, and a caffeine hit too, for a mere $4? I've talked to Phil a few times (he called me on my cell phone once!) and met Jacob. They're passionate about the product and top quality customer service. Just the kind of people you want to see succeed.

We're living in an era in which the big $$$ and attention are going to social media and fauxware companies. A billion dollars for Instagram? Please. Phil and co are earning it the old-fashioned way, and more power to them.


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Posted by wight
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm

notice cop cars always parked there. me thinks its cause mid eastern looking people go there. probably spying on ''foreign'' looking people.


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Posted by Ken
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Philz shops make the best cup of coffee I've ever tasted. Strong with no acid. Met Phil in mid-town once when it first opened. A regular guy, AFAICT.

Wight, the cops are there probably because they like good coffee, too. Sharon, 9 coffee shops may not make it but, by the nature of capitalism, the best should generally survive. That are more shops than sustainable in the long term is the basis of the process. For as long as customers are willing to pay premium for a cup, that will attract supply. And as the price of a gallon of gas goes up, the coffee looks like a better value.

Anyone interested in walking for a Philz? Get some exercise and keep from eating that bag of Fritos at the same time!


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

:The chairman and CEO of Starbucks, has controversially admitted that the best way to make a cup of coffee - is not his brand's way.

Howard Schultz says he uses a Bodum French press - a coffee presser brand

- which results in 'the best cup of coffee known to mankind.'

This means if Mr Schultz uses a 1lb bag of Starbucks coffee beans, it works out roughly 46 cents, compared to the $2.01 coffee drinkers in Manhattan pay for a small americano in store.

In an interview with Business Week, Mr Schultz explains that the French press brings out 'oils, flavor and essence of blends.'

Web Link


So you get a much better cup of coffee for 46 cents

Why would any one pay $4+ for an inferior cup of coffee ten times as much for filtered coffee that strips out oils, flavor and essence of blends?

Marketing hype, PR and spin does not justify a 10 times margin.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I beg to differ re the French press. There are other ways of making coffee that are as good, if not better, starting w/a Chemex. There's also that aero thingy, I think made in Palo Alto, which also creates a delish cuppa. There's also roasting your own beans at home, as some coffee nerds do.

It's good that we're all discussing this most important topic, & are treating it w/the respect it deserves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Any paper filter strips out the oils, flavor and essence of blends.

Superior coffee made at home and put in a thermos costs 10c to 41c per cup.

In contrast Mr Philz paper filter coffee costs $4 per small cup.

So if you drink 2 cups a work day --Mr Philz will cost you $80 per month --$ 960 per year.

If you follow Starbucks CEO advice you get a superior cup of coffee for between $2 and $8.20 per month--$24 and $ 98 per year.

We will take the saving of $ 936 per year and make our superior coffee at home.

Therefore Mr Philz charges each customer $936 per year to enter his store before they even get a cup of-a - less than excellent cup of coffee.

That does not make any sense--even to a behavioral economist--what value is Mr Philz providing that could possibly justify such margins?

None -- we that have experienced


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hanna
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm

"So if you drink 2 cups a work day --Mr Philz will cost you $80 per month --$ 960 per year."

I'm unsure of how many days you work, but the average work day per year is 255.

I wasn't aware the coffee went up to $4.00, but by your numbers, if a person were to purchase 2 small cups @ $.4.00 per workday, =$8.00 Daily
255 x $8.00 Daily = $2240.00 per year.

Anyway, I like Peets' Coffee the best, as far as my coffee of choice.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Who cares what it costs if people have the money to pay for it? I appreciate Hanna's good math, however.

Philz coffee is really good - imo - & as taste buds vary, we've all a right to our opinion. Sharon, who's the "we" to whom you always refer?

It's so simple, any economist can figure it out: Philz provides both a product & a service for which there's a demand. As long as the demand remains high enough, Philz will stay in business.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kristinite
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Sharon brought up the issue of making coffee at home as opposed to buying Mr Philz at 3.50 a cup. We can, but people really like to get out in the morning and see the neighborhood and sitting down to a nice cup of coffee is part of the experience. I hate to break it to Mr P, but folks really do not CARE about personal missions, how much "passion" one has or how many years you've been making coffee (I've been making coffee for over 20 yrs myself heh heh thx Krups) they just want to go in, buy their coffee and sit down. And what was with those QUESTIONS he was asked? "what are you bringing to the community" I wish I were in Mr Philz shoes, I would have replied "a coffee shop". Why was FIFTEEN entire minutes dedicated to this bizarre "life changing" interview? Is the opening of every shop in PA subject to a NATO conference?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kristinite
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Sharon brought up the issue of making coffee at home as opposed to buying Mr Philz at 3.50 a cup. We can, but people really like to get out in the morning and see the neighborhood and sitting down to a nice cup of coffee is part of the experience. I hate to break it to Mr P, but folks really do not CARE about personal missions, how much "passion" one has or how many years you've been making coffee (I've been making coffee for over 20 yrs myself heh heh thx Krups) they just want to go in, buy their coffee and sit down. And what was with those QUESTIONS he was asked? "what are you bringing to the community" I wish I were in Mr Philz shoes, I would have replied "a coffee shop". Why was FIFTEEN entire minutes dedicated to this bizarre "life changing" interview? Is the opening of every shop in PA subject to a NATO conference?


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