philz coffee

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Almost as soon as Nestlé spent $425 million to buy a majority stake in hip coffee chain Blue Bottle in September, the search for the next hot coffee brand was underway.

San Francisco has a contender in Philz Coffee, a family-run coffee chain known as a darling of the tech industry. The company, which passed hands from father Phil Jabar to son Jacob in 2005, has grown from one cafe in the city’s Mission District to over 40 locations in California and Washington, DC. Tech investors have poured $75 million into the chain to date.

Philz has the cash to fuel an expansion and a key ingredient to become the next Blue Bottle: individuality. It looks nothing like a cookie-cutter coffee chain. At Philz, a diverse set of customers sit around mismatched pieces of furniture and drink coffee brewed one cup at time. Employees are encouraged to express their personality through interactions with customers.

We spoke with Phil and Jacob to see why Philz has become a beloved institution.

Philz Coffee is the unofficial beverage of Silicon Valley.

Philz Coffee is the unofficial beverage of Silicon Valley.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

According to Phil, Google, Twitter, Apple, and LinkedIn employees buy the beans wholesale for their offices. Facebook has a standalone location at its Menlo Park campus.

According to Phil, Google, Twitter, Apple, and LinkedIn employees buy the beans wholesale for their offices. Facebook has a standalone location at its Menlo Park campus.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Facebook employees are currently beta-testing an order-ahead mobile app made by a team of engineers at Philz’s headquarters in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood.

Facebook employees are currently beta-testing an order-ahead mobile app made by a team of engineers at Philz's headquarters in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood.
Philz Coffee

The app will launch nationwide sometime in 2018.

The venture-backed coffee chain started from humble beginnings. Phil, who was born in Palestine and grew up in the Bay Area, ran a corner bodega in a gritty neighborhood.

The venture-backed coffee chain started from humble beginnings. Phil, who was born in Palestine and grew up in the Bay Area, ran a corner bodega in a gritty neighborhood.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

He saw a business opportunity in coffee and started experimenting with different beans and brew methods. In 2002, Phil brought a dining table from home and set up a cafe in the store.

He saw a business opportunity in coffee and started experimenting with different beans and brew methods. In 2002, Phil brought a dining table from home and set up a cafe in the store.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Today, the original Philz location on 24th Street still looks like someone’s grandma’s house.

Today, the original Philz location on 24th Street still looks like someone's grandma's house.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Couches sink like they’ve been lived in, and floor-to-ceiling murals spark creativity.

Couches sink like they've been lived in, and floor-to-ceiling murals spark creativity.