The Untold Truth Of Scooter's Coffee

Americans love coffee. National Coffee Association estimates that 62 percent of Americans drink coffee daily. According to Perfect Brew, coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the United States, second only to water. Considering the love that Americans have for the beverage, it's no wonder there are almost 65,000 coffee and snack-based businesses in the country, and the numbers only continue to grow, according to IBIS World.

A good chunk of these businesses are chains, and unsurprisingly, Starbucks is the top coffee chain, with more than 15,000 locations across the United States (via Statista). Though coffee franchise Scooter's Coffee doesn't have thousands of stores (yet), this Nebraska-born business is quickly expanding across the nation.

Scooter's Coffee may have a long way to go before reaching Starbucks or Dunkin' Donut fame, it is becoming a favorite among customers thanks to its convenient drive-thrus, tasty coffee, and fast service. If you haven't tried Scooter's yet, then you might be able to soon: It's on track to have 1,000 locations by 2024. If you're curious, you should be: There's so much to know about this booming business. 

Scooter's Coffee started in a town of about 44,000 people

Since 1998, Scooter's Coffee has been keeping customers caffeinated through its signature drive-through model. Co-founders Don and Linda Eckles dedicated themselves to serving quality coffee quickly, and the business took off.

Scooter's first location was in Bellevue, Nebraska, a town that had approximately 44,000 people in 2000, according to World Population Review. It seems those 44,000 people were very supportive of the chain, and by 2001, the coffeehouse opened its first franchised location in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa, which had a population of 58,000 people at the time, according to census data. The chain soon popped up in several additional locations, and it continues to grow today.

Scooter's Coffee isn't the only large business that has started start in Nebraska (via Zippia). The state is home to several other large businesses, too. Businesses like Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific, and Cabela's all originate from the Cornhusker State, as does Runza, which is another well-known chain. 

It has changed its name and logo multiple times

Most customers refer to Scooter's Coffee as Scooter's, but it has had multiple different names since its inception. The owners had a list of names to choose from, including Scooter, and they initially settled on Scooter's Java Express, as this name fed into the owners' philosophy of "helping [customers] 'scoot in and scoot out.'" When it was named Scooter's Java Express, the coffeehouse featured a logo with a character in a vehicle that appears to be moving very quickly.

By 2001, Scooter's Java Express changed its logo to reflect what it sells, and the illustration featured a large cup of coffee. But just four years later, the business changed its name to Scooter's Coffeehouse, and the new logo featured a to-go coffee cup instead of a traditional mug.

In 2011, the business changed its name and its logo once again. It eventually settled on the name "Scooter's Coffee" and changed the logo to its current signature red, black, and white circular illustration. And although the business has changed its name and looks, it maintains it's always kept its original brand promise: "Amazing People, Amazing Drinks... Amazingly Fast!"

There are two franchise options: Kiosk and coffeehouse

If you've been to or passed by a Scooter's, perhaps you've noticed that there are two separate location types. (And for anyone who wants to franchise, this is pertinent information.) There are two types of Scooter's Coffee locations: Kiosk and Coffeehouse. 

Its kiosk is a small building, about 660 square feet, just enough to house a couple of workers and the necessary equipment and ingredients for the store's high-quality coffee. The drive-thru coffeehouse option is a little more expansive. It features the signature drive-thru, but it also has seating space for customers. 

There are many locations for Scooter's Coffee already (over 400 according to its website), but it still offers franchising opportunities and makes the process (sort of) easy thanks to the support it offers franchisees. 

Scooter's helps new franchise owners choose a site for their building. It also offers a four-week training program in Omaha, Nebraska, prior to opening and helps market the new location. The coffee chain helps its franchisees after opening, too, by distributing supplies and offering support to those involved.

Scooter's Coffee is growing quickly

With good coffee and a good business model comes massive growth, and that's exactly what Scooter's Coffee is experiencing right now. According to, Scooter's currently has nearly 500 stores in 23 states, and by 2024, it expects to have 1,000 locations.

But it's not just Scooter's that's growing. The coffee industry as a whole is booming. By 2025, the global market is projected to be worth over $144 billion, and much of that comes from the United States coffee market, which is currently worth over $90 billion.

Scooter's is doing particularly well in terms of its growth, though. The franchise has been noted by several outlets for its excellence in business. According to its website, the coffee chain has been recognized as top franchise in the United States by FranchiseTimes, Entrepreneur, Franchise Gator, Franchise Registry, and others.

In 2019, Scooter's was named a Top Multi-Unit Franchise by Franchise Business Review, according to the coffeehouse's blogFranchise Business Review gives this honor to franchises that display excellence in leadership, training, and core values. Franchise Business Review has also recognized other businesses, such as Kona Ice, Wetzel's Pretzels, and Biggby Coffee.

Its Facebook page was hacked

In today's world, a social media presence is vital for large businesses, but that also opens them up to some risks, like potential hacking. Hackers attack businesses for a variety of reasons, such as boredom, extortion, or revenge, according to cWatch. Others are interested in hacking businesses to hold them for ransom and receive a payday. Some hackers, though, just want to wreak havoc on the business and its loyal followers, which was the case for Scooter's Coffee (via Omaha World-Herald).

The franchise's Facebook page was hacked after an employee unknowingly clicked on a spam link, giving hackers access to its page, which they took advantage of by posting pornographic images to the feed. "We feel terrible that our customers were subjected to this awful experience and truly appreciate your loyalty and understanding through the past 24 hours," the chain stated in light of the attack.

Unfortunately, security breaches are commonplace in business today. Other big businesses, such as Volkswagen, BP, and Sony Pictures, have had similar experiences.

It sometimes offers free coffee

Who doesn't like free coffee? The answer is probably no one, and Scooter's is well aware of that. As a promotional opportunity, the brand sometimes offers free coffee to certain people on special days. In May 2022, the coffeehouse celebrated Nurse and Healthcare Appreciation Day by offering healthcare workers free coffee at participating franchises across the nation (via Oklahoma's News 4).

"We notice their efforts to keep us safe and healthy and want to show a small token of our appreciation for their resilience and compassion," chief marketing officer Bill Black told Oklahoma's News 4.

Scooter's also offered customers an extra shot of espresso for free for an entire week in January/February 2022 (via ABC 4). "Any day is a great day to enjoy the rich and renowned espresso at Scooter's Coffee, and we're excited to share a little extra of our finest coffee with our guests to make their day amazing!" Black shared with ABC 4. Moral of the story?  Keep your eyes out for free coffee opportunities from Scooter's.

It has theme days

Working at Scooter's Coffee seems fun. Every now and then, the coffeehouse hosts a theme day for its employees and customers alike: On September 19, the business celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day, according to its blog.

On Talk Like a Pirate Day, Scooter's employees dressed like corsairs (as much as one can when while working at a coffeehouse, that is), donning eye patches and gold jewelry, and the restaurant offered customers a drink for half price if it was ordered in pirate speak. Just think: Simply by using the phrase "aye matey," you could've enjoyed a fresh cup of joe for half the regular price.

The coffeehouse's fun extends beyond its physical spaces. Its website's Just For Fun page hosts coffee trivia; seasonal activity guides, playlists, movie lists, and bucket lists; health and wellness suggestions; and posts that match coffee drinkers with a Scooter's drink according to Enneagram personality types.

Exclusive awards are available through the app

Having every restaurant's app on your phone is probably unnecessary, but if you're a big fan of a particular place, the exclusive awards might be worth taking up digital space. If you often frequent Scooter's Coffee, its app just might save you some money, allowing you to lower your annual coffee budget a little further.

In early 2022, the coffee franchise updated its mobile app to make it even better for users. "We are passionate about enhancing the customer experience. Our new order ahead, pay ahead feature will make it even more convenient for customers to enjoy their favorite Scooter's Coffee drink and treat," chief marketing officer Bill Black said in a press release, as reported by Fast Casual.

Now customers who utilize the app for purchases can earn "smiles" (Scooter's version of points), which they can trade for free drinks and other rewards. Users can also order and pay on their mobile device, and they can send digital gifts to others, such as gift cards and redemption for drinks, via the app's gift store.

Scooter's Coffee hired a former Starbucks executive

It may be tough to become an executive at a company, but once you've become one, you may be able to find the role of your dreams at a different company. Executives switch companies quite often, and the practice is increasing, particularly in CEO roles, according to MarketWatch. Though Scooter's Coffee hasn't done this for CEO roles, it has hired executives with some major industry experience for other positions (via  QSR). 

In June 2022, Scooter's hired Joe Thornton as president; the executive has worked for companies such as Jamba Juice, Blockbuster, and coffee juggernaut Starbucks, where he focused on increasing the speed of its drive-thru. Thornton has also written two books: "The Power of Or: Choosing and Doing What Matters Most" and "The Hostility of Change: Breaking Through Deep-Seated Barriers."

Thornton isn't the only Scooter's executive hired in 2022 with prior food industry experience. The coffee chain's new VP of marketing, Mitch Langston, has worked for companies like Applebee's International, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Long John Silver's, according to QSR.

It expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic posed problems for businesses across the board, causing many businesses to close either temporarily or permanently and leaving employees out of work (as per National Restaurant Association). An estimated 90,000 restaurants closed in some capacity due to the pandemic. And according to the NRA's Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President, Research & Knowledge Group, "90% of operators say recruiting and retaining employees will likely be more difficult after the pandemic is over than it was before it began."

COVID-19 was hard on restaurants, but not every eatery suffered. In fact, Scooter's grew during the pandemic: According to 3 News Now, in 2021, the chain was still searching for new locations in Omaha. And in early 2022, Scooter's shared that it planned to open 12 new locations in Northeast Florida, according to Jacksonville Daily Record.

It's hard to say exactly which factors led Scooter's to this growth when other restaurants were struggling, but it could be thanks in part to its drive-thru model, which it adopted when it opened in 1998. 

According to CNBC, restaurants with drive-thrus thrived during the pandemic, and many chains, including Chipotle, Shake Shack, and KFC changed aspects of their operations to accommodate the increase in business. Though not every fast food restaurant with a drive-thru experienced the same amount of growth as Scooter's, it was a key factor for many who stayed in business during the global health crisis.