When James Freeman founded Blue Bottle Coffee in 2002, the business was nothing more than a passion project. Freeman hand roasted beans in his Oakland, Calif. potting shed and delivered them to friends in his station wagon. Fifteen years later, Blue Bottle has expanded to a network of cafes across the globe.
After establishing itself in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, and Tokyo, Blue Bottle set its sights on Boston for its newest location. On Feb. 3, Blue Bottle opened its inaugural Boston cafe in Harvard Square.
“We’ve been really excited to get to Boston,” said Rose Bridges, a spokesperson for Blue Bottle. “We’ve been really well received in the area. People have been really excited and asking us to be there.”
The concept of the cafe serving as an oasis for people to have “amazing conversations” over coffee is foundational to each of Blue Bottle’s locations.
At the Harvard Square location, the large windows overlooking the brick buildings of Plympton Street and the Harvard Lampoon create an inviting environment for those seeking a quiet space to study or meet up with a friend over coffee. A unique feature of each of Blue Bottle’s cafes is a spot to kiss.
“When we design cafes we like to ask our architects to design a place to kiss,” Bridges said. “There’s this really amazing nook that’s our place to kiss in the Harvard Square location.”
Conveniently situated between the dorms and campus, Blue Bottle is the ideal study spot for Harvard students with its ample table space and variety of food and drink options.
All culinary options are made in-house and include liège waffles, toast, and a grab-and-go section. Single origin, blend, and espresso coffees are available and crafted with Blue Bottle’s three core values in mind.
“We love all coffee organizations, but our main core values are deliciousness, hospitality, and sustainability,” Bridges said in regards to what makes Blue Bottle distinct from its competitors.
In terms of deliciousness, Blue Bottle strives to source the highest-quality coffees and use the best methods and techniques available to brew that coffee. Additionally, all staff and baristas undergo an extensive training program to learn the stages of the coffee-making process.
The pillar of hospitality hinges on the welcoming atmosphere Blue Bottle hopes characterizes its cafes.
“Everyone is welcome in our space,” Bridges said. “Our teams are hopefully the most welcoming, excited-for-you-to-be-there teams.”
Sustainability is a core value that Blue Bottle is constantly aiming to improve. As of now, all of the company’s disposable products are compostable, a fact that Blue Bottle emphasizes to its customers, who may be unaccustomed to such a practice.
“We try to source responsibly both with our culinary and coffee programs as well,” Bridges added.
Another unique facet of the Blue Bottle mission is a focus on bettering the communities the company serves. On each of its openings, Blue Bottle dedicates its first day of sales to a local charity and finds an opportunity to serve with the organization.
“We want those partnerships to be impactful and helpful,” Bridges said. “We don’t just want to have a one-off experience with our charity partners, so we’re hoping to build up that relationship over time.”
In each of its cities, Blue Bottle selects a distinct mission to promote in its philanthropic partnership. For example, the Bay Area locations support food sustainability, while the Los Angeles cafes are partnered with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
For the Harvard Square location and all future Boston cafes, the partnership is with Artists for Humanity. According to a press release, the mission of the nonprofit is to bridge “economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.”
Blue Bottle felt called to make art its next mission, as founder Freeman is a concert musician, and the company has many internal art teams. Furthermore, Bridges believes everyone is an artist at heart.
“We wanted to work with an organization that really does amazing work providing artists’ mentorship for children,” said Bridges. “I think so often art programs are the first to go in schools, and it’s really important to keep the art dreams alive.”
Blue Bottle is not stopping with Harvard Square in its goal of bringing good coffee and great conversation to the people of Boston. Bridges confirmed plans for locations at the Prudential Center and The Exchange at 100 Federal.
These new cafes, as well as the Harvard Square location, will share the purpose of being “a safe place for everyone to come in and enjoy and experience just a little love and good coffee,” Bridges said.
Featured Image Courtesy of Blue Bottle Coffee