Karen Cate has recently been named CFO of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a coffee chain based in Los Angeles, California. Cate was serving as the vice president and controller for Trader Joes prior to her new position in the beverage industry, an experience which she claims served her well.
Trader Joe’s is a specialty grocery store chain with an emphasis on organic, gluten free, vegetarian, and other foods that are harder to find at standard grocery stores. Roughly 80 percent of the products found in Trader Joe’s stores are sold under the store’s private labels, cutting out the middleman and saving the store money.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf manufactures and produces many of its own products, and like Trader Joe’s puts an emphasis on customer satisfaction and high quality products. All of its beans are hand roasted by the company in their California facility, and the teas are similarly hand blended. The coffee beans are grown in farms throughout the world, from four separate continents and countries as varied as Kenya, Colombia, Jamaica, and Sri Lanka. Karen Cate has noted that the focus on premium products has helped make her transition from Trader Joe’s to Coffee Bean a smooth one.
As CFO, Cate is responsible for far more than financial tasks, and considers herself an “operational CFO,” responsible for many aspects of the multifaceted company. She also devotes a large portion of her time to being in the store, working and interacting with employees and getting a sense for the company’s big picture. She is focused on obtaining honest feedback from workers and customers in order to learn how she can improve The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. She remains confident in her actions and her judgments, and welcomes challenges as ways to push the company forward.
Karen Cate is not the only newcomer at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; they recently experienced a change in leadership that has left the company and its executives with a chance to establish long term goals and affect change. Cate’s role as CFO has allowed her to become an integral part of the rebuilding process, and she and the rest of the executive team are excited to see where the future may take them.
Do you think Karen Cate will be a good fit for The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf?