How Blue Bottle Coffee Maintains Product Quality As It Continues To Expand

In this episode of On Foodable, Paul Barron sits down with Bryan Meehan, CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee, at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The two chat about specialty coffee, company expansion, and branding among other topics.

In 2011, Meehan—whose retail experience comes from co-founding UK-based brands like Nude Skincare and Fresh & Wild, an organic market which is now owned by Whole Foods—came across James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee Company and said: “What are you doing with this company? I love it. Can I help you?”

Fast forward to today and Meehan has been the CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee Company for over six years now and has been hard at work growing the company to 60 locations in collaboration with James Freeman. The fast expansion boost was partially thanks to the Nestle acquisition that took place in 2017, but Meehan assures Blue Bottle works as an independent entity under that larger umbrella and the company’s growth has not come at the expense of product quality.

“A lot of companies here worry about with growth ‘If I could just maintain what I have then everything is going to be fine…’ but as you know you can’t succeed long-term with that so we push ourselves to try and get better every year,” says Meehan.

“With scale, the worry always with a company like Blue Bottle, and I see it in the industry today… with scale it’s so easy to just to take shortcuts and compromise on quality,” says Meehan. “We need to go back to focusing on why we started in the industry and in specialty coffee is that these products have got to taste delicious. If it’s not delicious we shouldn’t do it.”

Blue Bottle has taken its brand internationally with 10 stores in Japan and recently announcing it’s getting ready to launch its first South Korea location in Seoul.

Watch the episode above to learn about who is operating their stores internationally, the tech being used for Blue Bottle’s latest retail products, and how quality control affects the brand’s business decision.

Video Produced by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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Will the Former CEO of Starbucks Run for President in 2020?

The 2016 presidential election proved that Americans are willing to vote for out of the box leaders for president.

Since President Donald Trump was elected, this has inspired multiple successful entrepreneurs who aren't necessarily politicians to consider running for president. Mark Cuban, Chris Rock, and Oprah Winfrey have all said or have been rumored to be contemplating running for office.

Before the 2016 presidential election, there were reports that the CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz was going to run for office. In an op-ed for "The New York Times," he said he would not be running because he still had work to finish with the coffee brand.

However, he didn't say that he wouldn't run in the future. Now that Schultz has stepped down from his CEO role at Starbucks, will he run for president in 2020?

In a recent interview with the "NYT," he said he is focusing on promoting his new book before making the decision to run. But over the weekend, in a "60 Minutes" interview, Schultz said if he does run he will run as a "centrist independent."

"We're living at a most-fragile time, not only the fact that this president is not qualified to be the president, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what's necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged, every single day, in revenge politics," said Schultz to "CBS's" Scott Pelley.

Both members of the Democratic and Republican parties were quick to criticize the former Starbucks executive's statements over the weekend.

"If he enters the race, I will start a Starbucks boycott because I’m not giving a penny that will end up in the election coffers of a guy who will help Trump win," said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, who also called Schultz' potential run a "vanity project."

Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, expressed similar sentiments and called his run a stunt that would be "about one person: Howard Schultz."

President Trump also chimed in.

"Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the “smartest person.” Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!" tweeted Trump Monday morning.

But the more important question is, does this restaurant industry leader have what it takes to run the U.S. government? Starbucks is the fourth biggest fast-food chain in the world, but does this mean Schultz has got the chops to be the head of state and head of government of the United States of America?

Read more about Schultz' potentially throwing his hat into the ring for president in 2020 at "NBC News" now.

We went into the Foodable vault and found this video below from 2015 following Starbucks' failed "Race Together" campaign. This campaign was intended to encourage coffee shop discussions of race between the Starbucks' baristas and customers but was quickly shut down only after a week. Back then, the brand was also experimenting with third-party delivery services. Watch the video below to learn more.

Fast forward to today and Starbucks coffee delivery isn't wildly popular but is available on Postmates in most cities. The delivery charge is $5.99, which basically doubles the cost of one Starbucks beverage. Is this why coffee delivery has yet to take off?

Sudden Coffee Is Changing The Way People Think About Instant Coffee

Instant coffee may be convenient, but the name traditionally revealed its bitter, inferior, and acidic taste. But, you know we love game changers at Foodable Network and on this episode of On Foodable Feature, we have the pleasure of introducing the exception to the rule.

Instant coffee has always been thought of as a last resort for coffee lovers, but now Sudden Coffee, a food technology company founded in San Francisco, is revolutionizing instant coffee. Co-Founder and CEO, Josh Zloof, graduated from Stanford University in 2008 as an Engineer. He went on to gain experience in multiple fields, including supply chain, lean management, and operations and is responsible for many start-ups, including an email service, an on-demand shopping service, and a coaching company. After experiencing much success and failure, Josh was able to discover what he is most passionate about—serving a delectable cup of coffee while focusing on the convenience and experience a consumer receives.

Throughout this episode, Josh explains how Sudden Coffee’s brewing method and coffee bean selection process differentiates their coffee from most instant coffee brands. In addition to using single origin coffee beans from specialty farms, Sudden Coffee uses a freeze-drying brewing process. This method preserves the aromatic features in their coffee, whereas most instant coffee brands use heat to boil their beans, destroying the flavor.

Not only is their brewing method a differentiating factor in their business, but their pricing is as well. While they currently use a subscription model, their products are available on Amazon and will soon be expanding to stores near you! Sudden Coffee hopes their prices will mirror a shocking $1.50 in the future. Not only are they innovative, but Sudden Coffee is aiming to be the most affordable instant coffee brand out there, as well.

Discussion over Cold Brew Coffee is Up, According to Foodable Labs

It can be said that in recent years, cold brew coffee has quickly made its way into mainstream.

Cold brew has a smoother chocolate coffee flavor as opposed to other versions of coffee. The reason behind this is the fact that more coffee grounds are used and the steep time can be quite long and delicate since instead of hot water, room temperature or cold water is used for this process.  

This bitterless beverage has in turn carved itself a path to reach consumers directly through grocery stores in made-to-go bottles, as well as being incorporated as a drink menu item in coffee shops and some emerging restaurant brands, alike.

Courtesy of Jameson

Courtesy of Jameson

Cold brew is actually experiencing a 2.4 percentage increase in integration on the Top 150 Emerging Brands. However, when it comes to the integration of cold brew on independent restaurant menus, the drink is actually experiencing a 23.4 decrease year over year when 5,000 concepts were analyzed by Foodable Labs.

This could be a reason why cold brew has been declining in consumer sentiment in the past twelve months. Its score has dropped a whopping 16.2 points from a high 87.4 to a low 71.2 out of 100 points total.

One wouldn’t think this was the case from looking at the new products brands like Jameson and Apothic have been launching.

Jameson Cold Brew

The brand known for its triple-distilled, Irish whiskey decided to try its luck with a bottled version of the Irish coffee cocktail using cold brew from Fairtrade Arabica beans. The cocktail features “intense coffee bean aromatics combined with vanilla nuttiness of Jameson,” according the brand’s website.

Courtesy of Apothic

Courtesy of Apothic

Apothic Brew

As Foodable has reported in the past, Apothic Brew released in April of this year a red blend wine infused with cold brew. The winemaker, Debbie Juergenson, “realized that many of the characteristics in cold brew coffee and red wine naturally complement each other.” The result? A balanced red wine with a red fruit, mocha, and oak flavor.

Despite the lower consumer sentiment score, social discussion over the topic has actually been up 3.1 percent in the past year. This could be due to the integration of the beverage into established beverage brand products.

So, what exactly is motivating brands to jump outside of their comfort zones and explore new innovative ways to spice up their offerings with flavors like those from cold brew?

What’s for sure is that there’s a growing appreciation for the beverage as Americans continue to learn more about the sourcing and creation process of coffee.

To learn about how popular cold brew coffee brands are ranked by consumer sentiment and who is the leading the demographic consuming it, watch the Industry Pulse video above!

Beverage Companies Explore Broader Horizons with Healthier Options

It's no secret that more people are gravitating towards "healthier" products with "better-for-you" ingredients. Whether we are talking about food or drinks, the trend continues to prevail. As a result of this trend, we’re seeing major beverage players dive in head-first into this space. The opportunities are limitless and the chance to convert customers over to the brand has made these companies eager to develop new products.  

According to Euromonitor, the number one trend in regards to healthy living and beverages is "back to nature and no to sugar." Starbucks is well-known for creating many delicious and sugary coffee blended drinks but with the growing interest in plant-based protein, they recently launched a healthier and equally delicious alternative. Their new protein blended plant-based drink comes in two different flavors—Almond and Cacao. These drinks contain pea and brown rice protein and depending on your flavor of choice, it will either have almond butter and almond milk or coconut milk and cacao powder.

Starbucks is not alone in this venture. Other beverage giants such as Coca-Cola have decided that expanding their drink portfolio is the way to go. The company has developed tools, which gives the consumer more control and choice over what they are drinking. Coca-Cola has even recommitted to reducing calories from sugar by 20% by the year 2025. How do think this will affect companies that were created as “healthy” and “good for you” from the start?

Watch the video above to learn more about the healthy beverage trend and find out how healthy companies are expanding their drink portfolio to compete.