Monday, January 12, 2009

The Blue Bottle Coffee Company

Bring me food. No matter what it is or where it comes from, I love receiving food from foreign lands. If I’m not on the road, then the next best thing is for the food of the road to come to me.

Recently, my son brought me coffee from the Blue Bottle Coffee Company in Oakland, California. Mom, this product takes coffee to a whole new level.

He was right.

The coffee has a vivid, romantic aroma. The taste is rich and elegant and a million miles away from Starbucks fare. The Blue Bottle Coffee Company, a quintessential Bay area concern, is small, hip and totally radical about what it does. - taking “freshness and small batch roasting to an extreme not considered practical anywhere else in the coffee business.”

And now comes my favourite part. So where did the Blue Bottle look for inspiration when setting up the company? Seventeenth century Vienna. The story goes that during the siege, Franz George Kolshitsky, an Austrian who spoke Turkish and Arabic, was sent through enemy lines to deliver messages to the nearby Polish army who later helped rescue the city. The fleeing Turks left everything behind: camels, tents, honey and strange bags of beans thought to be camel fodder. Kolshitsky, having lived in the arab world, knew better, taking the 500 sacks of beans as a reward for his heroism. He then opened Central Europe’s first coffee house, the Blue Bottle and started the Austrian craze for coffee.

So here I am in my London kitchen, drinking Blue Bottle Coffee while dreaming of both foodie San Francisco and coffee house Vienna and while Blue Bottle in London is pretty fantastic, if you are in the Bay Area, you can experience ‘the real thing’ at their kiosk in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley at 315 Linden Street or at their café at 66 Mint Street at the corner of Jessie. If you live in the United States, Blue Bottle will ship you some beans and you can check out their on-line store here.

Otherwise, it pays to have a nice, San Francisco based son.


  1. The next time you visit your son, you should do a Blue Bottle, Ritual, Philz comparison. Plus there is very little that beats a cup of Blue Bottle coffee and a rabbit sandwich at the Embarcadero farmers' market in San Francisco on a weekend.

  2. Just checked out Riutal and Philz on the web. They look fantastic too.

    Blue Bottle coffee and a rabbit sandwich at the Embarcadero farmers' market ... I need another trip to San Francisco.

    Thanks for the great suggestions.