Germany’s third-largest coffee chain, Coffee Fellows, made its United States debut earlier this month in suburban Houston, while three more locations are already in the works.
The flagship Coffee Fellows that opened June 14 in Bellaire precedes forthcoming Houston-area locations in Katy and in the the Houston Heights and River Oaks neighborhoods.
[Editor’s note: This story has been updated. A previous version indicated that a new location was planned for the Fort Worth suburb River Oaks. The location is actually planned for the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston.]
Operations and growth in the U.S. will be managed by a newly established Coffee Fellows subsidiary called Coffee Fellows North America Corp.
“Fundamentally, the products are the same as in Europe,” Daniel Ogbonna, CEO of Coffee Fellows North America, told Daily Coffee News. “We adjust some of the products like the food items to match the taste of the U.S. customers, and ingredients we can source locally.”
The Texas cafes intend to reflect the relaxed, homey interior design already established by the German brand. Brick and wood-paneled walls and wood floors inside the new Houston coffee shop provide natural, grounded surroundings for wooden tables and brown leather-upholstered seating. Decorative maps in square frames show the cities of Munich and Houston.
Behind the bar, baristas craft traditional espresso drinks using Astoria espresso machines and grinders, while batch brews come by way of Bunn equipment. The shop offers a menu of locally baked pastries and bagels, plus salads, bowls and sandwiches made with some local ingredients.
Ogbonna said that the company hopes to establish its own roasting operation if the demand is there. Currently, the U.S. subsidiary is leaning on the roasting services of Houston’s Geva Coffee.
Founded in Munich in 1999 by Kathrin and Stefan Tewes, the franchise-focused company is currently the third largest coffee-focused chain in Germany after McCafé and Tchibo. Its headquarters today are located in Unterföhring, a suburb of Munich.
Coffee Fellows has more than 230 retail locations across Europe, including 130 gas station and rest area shops opened over the past six years. In 2019, Coffee Fellows expanded into Asia with three shops in Mongolia.
The forthcoming Katy location, expected to open in early September, will be Coffee Fellows’ first to have a drive-through. Beyond these first four shops, the U.S. subsidiary’s ambitions for retail growth include 10-25 additional locations throughout Texas over the next two years, with more states to follow.
“We are excited to bring our European coffee concept to the U.S. as well as open our first ever drive-through stores, to better serve American urban communities,” Coffee Fellows CEO Stefan Tewes said in an announcement of the Bellaire opening.