If you live in San Francisco or New York and love the arts, you know Blue Bottle Coffee – and they know you. Since first opening a roastery in Oakland in 2002, Blue Bottle has grown quicker than a caffeinated heartbeat ($20 million in sales). All told they’ve opened 11 retail stores in stimulating places like the SFMOMA café and San Francisco’s Mission District. They tend to land on creative spots–for instance in New York you’ll find Blue Bottle in Chelsea, in Williamsburg, and on The Highline (not to mention Rockefeller Center). This week they’re the exclusive brew at the must-attend Frieze NY art fair.
Although Blue Bottle is expanding rapidly, nothing about their roasting process is automated (or fast). They use vintage German Probat machines (from the late 1950s!) to roast the coffee and then use a variety of dripping processes (no less than 10 days after beans are roasted) for fresh cups and carafes. (There’s lots of brushing, weighing, filtering and timing involved for just one cup.) Loyal customers believe it’s worth the wait. Even in New York, where everybody wants everything yesterday, Blue Bottle devotees cut the specialty brand some slack. It takes a minute, sure, but it’s so good.