Scoop: Blue Bottle Coffee coming to Berkeley

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Blue Bottle is slated to open its first Berkeley outlet in 2016. Photo: Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle Coffee is set to open its first Berkeley outpost in the street-level retail space of co-working offices WeWork at 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University).

The news was confirmed by one of the building’s owners, Jordan Caspari of Soma Capital Partners.

Caspari said Blue Bottle would be going into the corner space, and added he was “very excited” about the opening next year.

A high-end ramen restaurant is expected to sign the lease for the other part of the retail space next week, Caspari said. Nosh will have details as soon as it is a done deal.


“We think the two tenants will have great synergies with WeWork,” Caspari said.

Blue Bottle Coffee along with a high-end ramen restaurant are set to open in the ground floor of the WeWork building at 2011 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley in 2016. Image: Google Maps
Blue Bottle Coffee, along with a high-end ramen restaurant, is set to open in the ground floor of the WeWork building at 2011 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley in 2016. Image: Google Maps

The space was most recently occupied by the Biryani House restaurant which shuttered in late 2014.

Blue Bottle was founded in Oakland by James Freeman in 2002 and quickly earned a reputation as one of the leading names in the so-called “third-wave” coffee movement, along with the likes of Four Barrel, Ritual and Sightglass. Its first store, at 300 Webster St. in Oakland , is still going strong, but the company has grown significantly in the past 13 years, raising venture capital and blossoming into a global brand. It now has numerous outlets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York, as well as two in Tokyo, a city Freeman cites as having been an inspiration for his ethos and aesthetic.

In February 2014, Blue Bottle opened a striking-looking store in the historic W.C. Morse Building at 4270 Broadway.

Blue Bottle has also expanded its product line with items such as cold-brew coffee and brewing equipment.

Freeman founded the coffee company, he says on the Blue Bottle website, because he was “weary of the grande eggnog latte and the double skim pumpkin-pie macchiato” and “decided to open a roaster for people who were clamoring for the actual taste of freshly roasted coffee.”

A high-end coffee roaster and ramen restaurant seem fitting for the WeWork building, which is occupied by tenants who skew young, many of whom are developing start-ups (along with Berkeleyside which has its office there).


According to Freeman, the downtown Berkeley location will offer the full range of espresso and pour-over coffee options, and sell pastries and cakes made by Blue Bottle’s head of culinary operations Hedy Macferran. Caitlin Freeman, Blue Bottle’s former head pastry chef, and Freeman’s wife, is on leave after having given birth to the couple’s child, Linden, five months ago. Earlier this year, Blue Bottle said it would be merging with San Francisco bakery Tartine, but this month it was announced those plans would not be coming to fruition after all.

Although downtown Berkeley has a Peet’s, a couple of Starbucks and coffee sources such as PIQ and Lindgren’s Café, it has not yet housed a brick-and-mortar spot for one of the more fashionable third-wave coffee brands. However it’s not the first time Blue Bottle has been served in Berkeley. For many years it had the coffee contract for the Berkeley farmers market. That was taken over by Red Bay Coffee earlier this year. And Guerilla Café, at 1620 Shattuck, then co-owned by Red Bay founder Keba Konte, was the first coffee shop to serve Blue Bottle when the company was still in its early days.

Asked when the new Blue Bottle would open, Freeman responded: “Only God and the Berkeley health department know.”

This story was updated after publication with input from Blue Bottle founder James Freeman.

Related:
Red Bay and Highwire vie for farmers market spot (06.09.15)
WeWork opens office space in downtown Berkeley (02.02.15)
Blue Bottle Coffee opens in historic Oakland building (02.07.14)
Modern Art Desserts: Talking with Caitlin Freeman (05.07.13)
Trueburger, Blue Bottle to open new Oakland spots (04.18.13)
Blue Bottle offers consolation to Café Fanny patrons (03.10.12)

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