"Clearly the consumer likes to drink coffee and as it has become more habitual, we will continue to see growth in the coffee space," Panera Bread CEO Blaine Hurst tells TheStreet. "I would not at all be surprised if there are more deals in the coffee space because consolidation, particularly on the buying and roasting side, makes a whole lot of sense - the economics get a lot better as you consolidate that pie."
Panera is owned by the world's second largest player in the coffee space in JAB Holdings, an entity that has been a very aggressive acquirer in the coffee space. In 2012, it spent $974 million to scoop up Peet's Coffee & Tea and $340 million for Caribou Coffee. It's largest coffee deal was $9.8 billion to purchase D.E. Master Blenders in 2013.
Hurst says Panera will focus more on improving the coffee experience in its restaurants over the next 12 to 18 months. He also teased a potential bottled coffee launch in supermarkets.