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A Photo Tour of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's RAD Roasting Facilities

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If you grew up in SoCal, you might have fond memories of hanging out after school at the The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, sucking down Vanilla Ice Blendeds with your friends, discussing very the likelihood that the Coffee Bean could quite possibly have put actual crack in their vanilla powder. (Seriously, those sugary drinks are that addictive.) But what you might not have realized is that CBTL is a homegrown company that was one of the first to bring direct trade coffee to the local caffeine drinkers. And they've been doing so for 50 years.

Oddly enough, those dangerously delicious Ice Blendeds were actually created by a few of the company's employees in Santa Monica. Looking for something cold and refreshing to drink during the summer months, they put Slim Fast, ice, and coffee in a blender, and voila. Though they might have been our first introduction to the coffee world, the Bean had been around for a while, and that era was what they consider part of their "second wave" of business.

When The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf first launched in Brentwood in 1963, they were taking part in a newly blossoming coffee culture in the US. At first they were just a wholesale location that sold coffee and loose leaf tea for folks to brew at home on their own. But in the 1980s, coffee shops were popping up around college campuses, and they started to sell some of their brews in house. Now they have nearly 1000 stores in 25 countries worldwide.

Though the ideas of direct trade with farmers have become buzzwords in the coffee scene as of late, CBTL has always had that idea as part of their business plan. But they're not snots about it. There's none of that coffee snobbery that sometimes comes along with the craft coffee culture these days -- just a passion for building relationships with customers, coffee farms, tea estates, and their very own team members at the RAD facilities in Camarillo.

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After a tour of the company's outpost, and we can now officially confirm that there is no crack involved in the production of their goods -- just an addiction to innovation, consistency, and creativity.