After spending 10 years cultivating their business model in New York City, the owners of Joe Coffee, siblings Jonathan and Gabrielle Rubinstein, have decided to venture south and open two new Philadelphia locations: in Rittenhouse (March); and on Drexel's campus (August).
The Rubensteins grew up in a Cleveland household that instilled them with Jewish values, which they have translated into their socially responsible venture. "The ethics and morals in how we run our business is very Jewish in the way we treat our staff and give back to the community," Gabrielle relayed to me over the phone as we discussed the concept of tikkun olam, the Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world."
Coffee wasn't the first career choice for either sibling. Gabrielle studied opera and was a singer; her brother moved to Manhattan as a talent agent. "Jonathan always had a dream to open a coffee shop and, at that time, there were barely any good coffee shops in New York — that served good coffee," said Gabrielle. "We didn't come from business or hospitality, but we've built our business on reputation."
Their reputation doesn't only come from their customer base, which rates Joe Coffee a consistent four out of five for all of their New York City locations on Yelp. They create a community for their employees. "We look for ways to feel like it's more than just a job," shared Gabrielle. Joe Coffee doesn't just talk the talk either. They offer their 150 employees health care benefits, yoga on Fridays, happy hour every month and training seminars.
I, personally, take a great deal of pride our city's strong independent coffee culture —La Colombe, Rival Bros., Shot Tower, Old City, Mugshots, One Shot and so many more. It sounds like Joe should fit in nicely, especially since their shop will be less than one block from the La Colombe flagship location!
Don't go too hungry to their shops, though — they only pair locally baked pastries with their coffee selections. Their local pastry vendor? Well, they're still working on that, but don't worry, I'll keep you posted...
At the end of our conversation, I asked Gabrielle how she takes her coffee. Her response, "Black." That's how I like mine, too!
The Bubbi Project