Blue Bottle Coffee Co.
James Freeman, along with about 65 employees, over half of whom work full-time.
In 2002, James left his previous occupation as a freelance clarinet player to indulge his passion for fresh coffee. He began selling beans (roasted in very small batches) to fellow coffee fanatics, restaurants and, eventually, at farmers' markets, a kiosk, and a café. Blue Bottle beans are roasted in 20-pound batches. During the roasting process, natural fats, proteins, acids and other compounds break down as sugars caramelize under the intense heat, upwards of 500 °F. After the various varieties of beans are roasted (each to their own temperature and time) and cooled, they are mixed (for blends) and bagged within 4 hours. Blue Bottle never sells beans more than 48 hours after they are roasted, an unheard-of standard for freshness.
Blue Bottle buys beans from coffee brokers importing through the Port of Oakland from Latin America, East Africa, and Oceania. All beans are shade-grown and almost all are organic (exceptions are occasionally made for delicious pesticide-free beans). They use Clover organic milk, organic soymilk and Recchuiti chocolate for their beverages.