There are only two matters James Freeman has ever honestly wanted to do: play the clarinet and make espresso.
Today, Freeman is excellently referred to as the founding father of Blue Bottle Coffee, the premium coffee chain with the simple, yet elegant, blue emblem that ornaments greater than 75 upscale cafes around the arena in which you could purchase a more or less $five drip espresso made from the brilliant single-starting place, freshly roasted artisanal beans. In 2017, Swiss food massive Nestle bought a majority stake in Freeman’s organization in a deal that reportedly values Blue Bottle at greater than $700 million.
But before Freeman was the founding father of a business enterprise, this is set to roast extra than 2.6 million kilos of coffee beans. During these 12 months, he becomes a suffering classical musician roasting his very own fresh beans as a hobby.
An obsession will become a commercial enterprise.
Freeman had long been “interested” via coffee and turned obsessed with consuming the simplest, the freshest cup. That supposed roasting beans himself — shopping for uncooked, green coffee beans and heating them at kind of 500 tiers Fahrenheit — because he felt that maximum retail espresso chains over-roasted their beans.
In 2002, Freeman became making simply enough cash to pay his bills playing the clarinet at component-time gigs with nearby orchestras in Northern California. In his off-time, he nursed an obsession with sparkling coffee that stimulated him to roast his personal raw espresso beans in the oven of his Oakland, California, condo. Freeman began questioning if there is probably an enterprise possibility for a devoted espresso snob like himself to promote his version of the correct cup of coffee to like-minded caffeine junkies. While pals warned him that the coffee market changed into already oversaturated, Freeman also noticed that, at the time, few coffee sellers in the Bay Area even found out how fresh their espresso become.
“At the time, there literally changed into not an area in San Francisco one should visit get a bag of coffee with a roast date stamped at the again,” he says.
Freeman commenced ramping up his homegrown roasting operation using renting (for $600 a month) a 186-square-foot potting shed positioned close to his apartment in Oakland’s Temescal district wherein he should roast beans in 7-pound batches the use of a vintage Diedrich roaster he’d driven to Idaho to shop for immediately from the producer. He decided to end his track profession and strive his hand as a barista, promoting his personal home-roasted espresso beans, at the side of sparkling cups of coffee, at farmers’ markets around San Francisco and Oakland.
“In my profession as a clarinetist there have been moments of delight, but they tended to be few and ways between, and so I saw espresso as an area, a touch-safe haven, wherein I could work out the matters I’m interested in, but additionally this opportunity to no longer play clarinet anymore. So, something that could pay my payments, I don’t have to visit gigs,” Freeman tells CNBC Make It.
Freeman was given through on his relatively easy setup and enterprise model for the next couple of years. However, Blue Bottle’s origins weren’t without prices, from the roaster to condo prices for the potting shed and the espresso cart’s spot at farmer’s markets, not to mention the price of raw beans and paying a nearby photograph fashion designer to caricature the emblem’s easy, blue brand. Freeman says he poured everything he could into the commercial enterprise. “Clarinetists don’t acquire a whole lot of wealth, so I put in all of the money I had, plus a pair credit score playing cards.”
That came out to about $20,000 in total, together with up to $15,000 in debt unfold throughout credit score playing cards.