Deconstructing Blank Street Coffee

Alexander Novicov
7 min readApr 4, 2024
Blank Street Coffee in London

I came across Blank Street Coffee randomly when I saw that a small Pret A Manger in Kings Cross had closed and instead, around the block, this new brand opened.

It was Blank Street Coffee. I decided to give it a try, and I loved the drinks. Then I went a couple more times and I totally loved the taste and simple aesthetics that the brand has.

I started digging a bit deeper to understand who they are and what their brand story is.

Blank Street Coffee In New York Times

Blank Street is a brand from the US with more than 50 locations. Currently they have stores in New York, London, Manchester, Boston and DC. It looks like they have an ambition to expand into hundreds of stores.

They have raised $67 million from VC funds that include General Catalyst and Tiger Global. Real estate giant Tishman Speyer, and the founders of Allbirds, Harry’s and Warby Parker fueled their growth.

What makes it special?

Based on the brand’s founders Issam Freiha and Vinay Menda’s statements, their mission was to create a coffee shop that makes good coffee cheaper.

“I noticed my friends going to Starbucks for the convenience, Dunkin’ for the price point, and specialty coffee shops for the quality. But as students, we couldn’t afford a $6 cappuccino every day. What we needed was a one-stop shop: a place to get exceptional coffee at an accessible price point, crafted with speed and efficiency.” — co-founder Issam Freiha — QSR Magazine

Blank Street Coffee Founders

I’m not a huge fan of competing on taste or price because I think it’s a race to the bottom. But I might be wrong? At the end of the day did I just become a loyal customer of Blank Street because of their taste? Actually, I did.

But if we look even deeper it’s not just taste. It’s the whole experience.

So the coffee is a bit cheaper than Starbucks for example (£3,60 for an Oat Latte) and the taste is so much better.

I tried all (well the majority of) the coffee shops in London.I tried Redemption Coffee many times but they are way more expensive than BSC.

This brand feels like it’s the new Starbucks, but a trendy one with very good taste.

If we look at their designs and brand aesthetics we can see they have a playful, flat and minimal design that reminds me of Away Travel. The core colour — light green — is even a nod to Starbuck’s deep green.

Redemption Coffee Covent Garden
Flat design, pastels, and text encircled by ovals. Blank Street fits right in to Gen Z’s ‘adorkable’ brand aesthetic as coined by Ben Schott
Away Travel Instagram Account
Away Store — Minimal Design


Starbucks is well known for its ‘third space’. concept. It’s designed for people to use the coffee shop as their third space to come and have a cup of coffee and rest. Blank Street is the opposite. Their locations are very small and it’s designed with the mindset of “Order and go”. There is no space to sit and read a book.

What we can learn from this startup is that we don’t need to copy what legacy brands did or do. We can create our own path. This is what Blank Street is doing.

Their operations focus on having less employees by investing heavily in technology. For example, every BSC comes with an Everysys espresso machine that costs up to £18,000. These machines prepare a latte at the press of a button which means you can run the whole coffee shop with 1–2 baristas at a time and you don’t really need much experience in making coffee.

Their mobile app user friendly, and makes reordering your latte so much easier. You order on the app and you don’t even have to interact with their team members.

I would think they would double down on customer service but they don’t.. Because customer service is okay, just fine. A simple ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ will do.

So the question is, what is their strongest selling point?

Blank Street Coffee
BSC Espresso Machine

Product matters.

As much as I like to talk about the importance of brand storytelling, I believe that the product will always come first. When I talk about brand purpose and brand storytelling I speak about it with a mindset that the product is great.

This is a mistake I make, perhaps, when I speak about brand storytelling. I might neglect the importance of the quality of the product. But the product always needs to come first. What I mean is that the product itself needs to be high quality, top notch. It needs to be the best it can be.

With Blank Street Coffee their product is perfect — much better than Starbucks and Pret. Just last Saturday I was at the South Downs for a client shoot and I wanted a coffee, as I woke up at 05:00 to drive there. I stopped at two places and the coffee wasn’t to the standard that I had got used to. I thought to myself how I crave a BSC right now!

I think once we have the product at the highest quality, then we can start focusing on creating a digestible brand story.

BSC Inside their small stores


What initially got me to try Blank Street Coffee was the simple design, the minimalist approach to their brand. As a minimalist myself this was huge for me because I love the simplicity. The feeling was that it’s a local coffee shop in the neighborhood.

People say that within visuals there is a story — and it’s true, there is a story about who we are. As humans we have this need to belong — to feel that we are connected to a tribe, we are connected to a certain type of group of people.

Now more than ever we can see how people take this side or the other side — there is no middle any more. Everyone is supporting something. This is important to understand because when we buy things we are signaling that this is who we are and what we stand for.

As Blank Street Coffee have a fantastic look and aesthetics of their store, I believe they need to work on their brand story and communicate what they stand for.

Sure, on their website they say the following:

When we started Blank Street, we set out to reimagine what a coffee shop could be. Serving a clean, natural, and high quality menu to our customers at affordable prices…

A great story never focuses on the quality and price because a competitor can buy the same espresso machine and start doing the exact same coffee and create a BUSY STREET COFFEE.

BSC Creative and Minimal Design

Brand Story.

That’s why it’s so important to create a brand story based on your values, what you stand for. BSC did different partnerships with different brands that tells us a story that they are new, willing to collaborate and they don’t follow the old route.

It looks like they are Starbucks for the new generation. A trendy coffee shop. There is a great article by Michelle Willes about the Blank Street coffee operation and how she thinks their business model will look in the future, which you can read here.

For us, looking at the brand story is important to understand that the foundation should be never neglected and in this case there is an unspoken and uncommunicated value that the two founders have. Here’s something from their website:

“Our operation was simple and our footprint was small, which let us remove costs that didn’t benefit our customers or baristas. This allowed us to source top of the range specialty coffees from around the world, serve clean and fresh food sourced locally, and pay our baristas above market wages.”

So perhaps rather than speaking about that, they can create a story that inspires us to look for better in our lives, starting with coffee. Perhaps the value might be less is more. Then taking this angle and creating a whole brand story and campaign around less is more because quality is better than quantity.

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Alexander Novicov

I wake up every day striving to become the best version of myself. I’m a human, an author, ultra runner, skydiver, speaker and CEO at Way Boutique Agency.