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Congratulating Blue Bottle Coffee

By Tony Conrad, January 29, 2014

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We’re thrilled about today’s Blue Bottle Coffee news that they’ve raised a $25 million growth round of capital. It’s an incredible step forward for Founder James Freeman, Chairman Bryan Meehan, Blue Bottle’s amazing Baristas, team and investors. You can read Kara’s post here.

At True, we’ve been incredibly lucky to partner with amazing leaders, mainly in the tech world (Matt Mullenweg at WordPress, Chris Anderson at 3DR, Ayah Bdeir at Little Bits, Bre Pettis at MakerBot, James Park at FitBit, Philip Rosedale at High Fidelity, and many, many more…). What we’ve learned from these inspiring Founders is they do more than just create companies; these type of Founders, they start movements—it’s envisioning a way of life—it’s visionary, a vision of how the world will be in spite of how people do things now (remember when we carried around maps…). It’s having a sense in your mind, knowing how people are going to use your product to impact their life; that’s what makes it visionary, and through that vision a movement is sometimes sparked.


When we met James, it was instantly clear that Blue Bottle Coffee isn’t just about coffee drinks; it’s about so much more. What we saw and why we got involved is that James and his team are part of a handful of people who are founding a movement around coffee. It’s not just the very specific experience around the coffee Blue Bottle roasts, it’s everything they do from the way they source the product; supporting farmers in developing regions of the world to grow the purest, highest quality organic beans that promote sustainability; the way they choose store locations that often act as a vote of confidence for a developing neighborhood; and how they serve the product (what cup, what glass, what temperature, single origin beans versus blended bean mixes, espresso drinks only on premise….). They think through every detail to offer something beautiful in our daily lives—it’s a philosophy/approach that has led to a movement around the integrity of experience around coffee.

It fits into a larger movement we’re all experiencing right now around a greater integrity in the experiences that we already have in our daily lives. We’re not just satisfied to have a meal; we want that meal to have greater integrity and be more aligned with our values, to know where the food is coming from. We want it to have a certain type of quality—this is happening in all aspects of life. We don’t just want to work for a living; we want to make a difference.

Our original investment in James, Blue Bottle and their team was a fairly straight-forward, easy decision given the company’s rapid growth, loyal following, Founder vision, management team and potential for broader appeal—we see tremendous opportunity to grow this business in a manner that adheres to the principles with which it was founded. We believe Blue Bottle Coffee is at the forefront of a “consumer movement” or mega-trend in which consumers are moving to higher quality, artisanal micro-roasters of coffee, where quality, attention to detail, beauty and a distinctive experience are being sought over more mainstream alternatives. In addition, we believe the Blue Bottle Coffee brand and products appeal to—and are accessible to—a large audience of coffee drinkers who are increasingly interested in expanding their appreciation for fine coffee.