In the late 1600s, the Turkish army swept across much of Eastern and Central Europe, arriving at Vienna in 1683. Besieged and desperate, the Viennese needed an emissary who could pass through Turkish lines to get a message to the nearby Polish troops. Franz George Kolshitsky, who spoke Turkish and Arabic, took on the assignment disguised in a Turkish uniform. After many perilous close calls, Kolshitsky completed his valiant deed, returning to give the Viennese the news of the Poles’ imminent rescue of their city. On September 13, the Turks were repelled from Vienna, leaving everything they brought: camels, tents, honey, and strange bags of beans, which were thought to be camel feed. Kolshitsky, having lived in the Arab world for several years, knew these were bags of coffee. Using the money bestowed on him by the mayor of Vienna for his heroic deed, Kolshitsky bought the Turks’ coffee, opened Central Europe’s first coffee house (The Blue Bottle), and brought coffee to a grateful Vienna.
319 years later, in Oakland, Calif., a slightly disaffected freelance musician and coffee lunatic, weary of the grande eggnog latte and the double skim pumpkin-pie macchiato, decided to open a roaster for people who were clamoring for the actual taste of freshly roasted coffee. Using a miniscule six-pound batch roaster, he made a historic vow: “I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my customers, so they may enjoy coffee at its peak of flavor. I will only use the finest, most delicious and responsibly sourced beans.” In honor of Kolshitsky’s heroics, he named his business Blue Bottle Coffee, and began another chapter in the history of superlative coffee.
Now, more than 10 years later and thanks to the enthusiastic support of many loyal customers, Blue Bottle Coffee has grown to a small network of cafes, an espresso cart, and some vintage German coffee roasters. We are still united by the simple purpose of getting great coffee to everyone who asks for it. Improbably and delightfully, there are hundreds of us now. We roast coffee on vintage gear, put it in compostable bags, and still get it to our customers within 48 hours. We roast great coffee in four cities, make great drinks, clean up after ourselves, bake cookies, type up invoices, get change at the bank, and say please and thank you. We offer the elderly and pregnant our seats on the bus and brush and floss daily. We look forward to seeing you soon.