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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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!

Will America’s Newest Java Obsession Dethrone National Coffee Brands?

Will America’s Newest Java Obsession Dethrone National Coffee Brands?

By Jessica Bryant, Managing Editor

Big things are happening in the brew world, and we’re not just talking about craft beer. America’s specialty coffee movement, also known as the “third wave of coffee,” is that which brings appreciation to artisanal coffee and all that comes with it — from equipment and aesthetics, to humane production practices.

According to a 2014 infographic by the National Coffee Association, 34 percent of Americans consume gourmet coffee beverages daily. The majority of these daily gourmet coffee drinkers are 25-39 years old. In December 2014, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) estimated the retail value of the U.S. coffee market at $46B, with specialty coffee making up more than half (51 percent) in volume share and even more than that (55 percent) in value share.

Some of the biggest retail players in specialty coffee right now are Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and Sightglass. Three in the bunch — Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, and Sightglass — are all based in the Bay Area. So, despite an “11 of the World’s Best Cities for Coffee Lovers” roundup on Matador Network earlier this year, which listed only Sacramento and Denver for U.S. cities, we can’t help but wonder: Is San Francisco brewing as a new epicenter for artisan coffee? And beyond that, are artisan coffee brands primed to overtake national java brands?

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