Kolshitsky & the first Blue Bottle
The apocryphal tale goes like this: 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 cross Turkish lines to get a message to nearby Polish troops. Franz George Kolshitsky, who spoke Turkish and Arabic, took on the assignment disguised in Turkish uniform. After many perilous close calls, Kolshitsky completed his valiant deed, delivering news of the Poles’ imminent rescue to Vienna.
On September 13, the Turks were repelled from the city, leaving everything they brought, including strange bags of beans, which were thought to be camel feed. Kolshitsky, having lived in the Arab world for several years, knew these to be bags of coffee. Using money bestowed on him by the mayor of Vienna, Kolshitsky bought the coffee and opened Central Europe’s first-ever coffee house (The Blue Bottle), bringing coffee to a grateful Vienna.
319 years later
In the early 2000s, in Oakland, California, a slightly disaffected freelance musician and coffee lunatic, weary of the commercial coffee enterprise and stale, overly roasted beans, decided to open a roaster for people who were clamoring for the actual taste of fresh coffee. Using a minuscule six-pound batch roaster, he made a historic vow: “I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my guests, so they may enjoy coffee at peak 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 fifteen years later, and thanks to the enthusiastic support of many loyal guests, Blue Bottle Coffee has grown to a network of cafes across the U.S. and in Japan. We are still united by the simple purpose of getting great coffee to everyone who asks for it. We have gotten even more specific about freshness and peak flavor. Improbably and delightfully, there are hundreds of us now.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
May we bring you coffee?
The first method of selling coffee we tried was enjoyable but short-lived:
We would call our customers, have a conversation about what kind of coffee they liked, and how much they tended to drink, and, if it was a good conversation, we would take their credit card number and make them a promise: to drive to their homes once a week and drop coffee on their doorstep.
This turned out to be a fraught business model for a number of reasons—and besides, there is only so much coffee you can pack into your Peugeot 505 wagon—but it is still, more or less, what we are trying to do.
We work directly with farmers around the world to source the most delicious and sustainable coffees we can find. Then, we roast them to our exacting flavor standards, and serve them to you at peak deliciousness, hopefully alongside a good conversation and some friendly advice. We think it’s a privilege to deliver the coffees we love, by farmers we admire, into your hands or onto your doorstep.
Who are our people?
Our people are the kindest, most hardworking and talented in the business. We’re an impossibly eclectic group of coffee experts, artists, writers, sensory scientists, bakers, designers, and all-around dreamers. Join us.