A global byword for specialty coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee was established by the clarinet player-turned-coffee guru James Freeman in 2002. Freeman established firm footing for the brand’s distinct coffee culture based on his experience selling drip coffee from a cart at farmers’ markets. His secret is to focus entirely on the delicate nuances of coffee beans and hospitality-based individualized service. Somewhat of a unicorn in the coffee world, Blue Bottle Coffee has attracted significant investments from Silicon Valley, and has steadily expanded across the US, with far-flung locations in Tokyo and Seoul.
This coffee craze has largely been propelled forward by certain coffee houses or brands, rather than by the coffee itself. Blue Bottle Coffee, featured in this issue, is the leading coffee brand behind the beverage’s phenomenal popularity for the last decade. As a frontrunner of specialty coffee—which is regarded as the third wave of coffee—Blue Bottle Coffee managed to create its own distinctive tastes and improve the entire coffee experience. Thanks to the brand’s concerted efforts, the high-end coffee industry has seen incredible growth over the years. Harking back to our publication seven years ago, B also covered Intelligentsia, another specialty coffee brand that is often referenced alongside Blue Bottle.
As of May 2023, Magazine B has introduced a new series, “Perspectives”. Interviews with founders and leaders of some of Magazine B’s profiled companies, all answering the following question:
“How do you define yourself, and what kind of person do you want to live with in the future?”
This interview with Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman is fascinating. Among the more interesting notes is his paraphrasing of Mario Cuomo’s famous quote about politicians, that they “campaign in poetry, and govern in prose.” As a start-up founder who was able to sell his company to financiers who were able to scale it, he noted the difference between founding and scaling a company this way:
“Brands are founded in poetry and scaled in prose.”
Coming next month, an interview with Magazine B founder Suyong Joh.