The venture-capital backed coffee chain that Silicon Valley is obsessed with is expanding to three new cities this fall.
James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, tells Business Insider that the company is doubling its US market size with new locations in Boston, Miami, and Washington, DC. It’s the first regional expansion since the company set up shop in Tokyo, Japan, in 2015.
Blue Bottle, which operates 26 cafés globally, mostly in California and New York, has become hugely popular with hipsters and tech workers since it was founded in the early 2000s. Baristas craft one cup at a time using vintage brewing machines and artisanal blends.
The going rate for a cup of pour-over coffee is about $3.
The specialty coffee roaster has raised some $120 million in venture capital, from Morgan Stanley Investment Management, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, venture capitalist Chris Sacca, and WordPress cofounder Matt Mullenweg.
Fans herald Blue Bottle as the “anti-Starbucks,” where customers are treated as individuals and the coffee provides a transformative culinary experience. Freeman says he doesn’t worry about how expansion will affects its reputation.
“All cafés are somebody’s local café,” Freeman says. “Our process is just to regard every café like that: It’s somebody’s local café. They don’t care how many Blue Bottles or Starbucks or Stumptowns there are. They go to their one café, and it better resonate with them.”
Blue Bottle will apply the same approach that made it a household name, according to Freeman.
Each café will be designed to match the culture of its host neighbourhood. Baristas will receive intense training, and only coffee that’s been roasted in the last 48 hours will be served to ensure quality. Customers shouldn’t expect to find giant drip coffee making machines in Blue Bottle anytime soon.
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