Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

Tory Putnam




James Freeman, along with about 215 employees on both coasts, 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 to fellow coffee fanatics, restaurants, and, eventually, at farmers markets and 10 cafés. Blue Bottle beans are roasted on vintage German Probat roasters. During the roasting process, natural fats, acids, and other compounds break down as sugars caramelize under the intense heat. 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 four 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 and through direct trade from Latin America, East Africa, and Oceania. All beans are shade-grown and almost all are organic (exceptions are sometimes made for delicious pesticide-free beans). They use Clover and St. Benoit organic milk, organic soymilk, and Tcho chocolate.

Fun Fact

Blue Bottle composts everything they can, about 70 percent overall. At the roaster in Oakland, they fill a 1.5 yard compost container (about three or four 64-gallon green bins) at least twice a week.


San Francisco, California


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »