LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is looking to hire more than 250 team members across California.

The Southern California-grown coffee chain was founded in 1963, opening its first store in Brentwood. Today, it has nearly 900 stores in 30 countries and employs 12,000 people worldwide.

READ MORE: Palisades Fire: Hundreds Under Evacuation, 1 Detained For Questioning In Arson Investigation

Culver City resident Cassandra Smith was unemployed for six months until she decided to put her love of coffee and interacting with people to work.

“I had a friend actually who works at Coffee Bean,” said Smith. “They told me they were hiring so I went online and applied to a bunch of different locations, and I was hired.”

Smith has been working as a barista for three months. She says her job brewing coffee and making specialty drinks, as well as interacting with customers at the cash register, is the perfect fit. She was trained in just a few weeks.

“It’s fairly easy once you get to remember all the recipes, then it’s like muscle memory, you don’t have to think about it,” Smith said. “But it is a little overwhelming at first.”

CEO Mel Elias, who started as a marketing manager in 1997 and later opened the first Coffee Bean locations in Singapore and Malaysia, says the company’s history shows the American Dream in action.

READ MORE: After One-Year Delay, Robert Durst Murder Trial Set To Resume

For many Coffee Bean employees, a career as a barista is a jumping off point. “We have countless stories of team members who started as baristas and who are now in meaningful positions in executive offices,” said Elias.

One such employee is Danielle, who has been with the company for 14 and a half years since starting out as a barista. “I had seven promotions over that 14 and a half years.”

Baristas start out making $8 an hour, and receive free beverages while they work and 33 percent off of food and products. Health benefits are provided to shift supervisors, the next level up from barista.

“We have many shift supervisors, and we’re looking for shift supervisors in the next year,” Danielle said.

Elias says the chain likes to hire new employees with personality and values that fit with the company’s emphasis on friendliness, respect, ownership, teamwork and honesty.

“We are very proud of our company, we think we have a fantastic culture, and we really are growing,” said CEO Elias. “We’re opening many more stores so we’re encouraging anyone interested in working here to please apply.”

MORE NEWS: Israel Continues Air Assault On Gaza Strip, Almost 200 Palestinians Killed

Interested applicants should visit the company’s website.