Is Craft Coffee Still Craft Coffee If it Has $25 Million in Investment?

In a world of coffee companies that start with the letter “S”, it’s nice to know that there are plenty of small craft roasters that are trying to up the ante. The focus is on consciously sourced beans and small batch production, and it’s quite an art if you talk to any roaster. But as with any trade, there’s come a time when the small guy (girl?) goes to being the big guy.

Blue Bottle Coffee has for quite some time now been a java darling of San Francisco. The thing you go and stand in line for the second you get into the Bay Area, since wherever you’re from probably doesn’t serve beans that you want to drink. So maybe it should come as no surprise that it just locked in $25.75 million in investment. All those venture capitalists that also happen to be coffee aficionados have to put their money into something.

The money is going to help them “expand retail operations, improve internal training programs and further develop its quality control department,” according to an article on Re/Code.

I happen to like Blue Note, in fact, I own the Blue Bottle Coffee book. If you ever wanted to delve into the wide world and art of coffee technicalities, it’s highly recommended; you’ll see why roasters and baristas are proud of what they do, there’s a science to it. And I do like seeing craft businesses thrive. But I am always wary of what the influx of capital and expansion really means.

Just look at the “S” company. I remember when you could still go to the original cafe in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and it actually looked very original. Nowadays it’s decked out just like any other “S” cafe around the world, marking the demise from craft coffee importer to hawker of the single capsule and instant coffee.

But that’s not the way things are going to go according to Blue Bottle.

“We want to build our company, but also have the artisanship of it remain intact,” CEO and founder James Freeman told Re/Code. “There is a growing interest and enthusiasm for specialty coffee, so we also want people to feel like it is also accessible.”

Hopefully that’s true, and with this recent infusion of money, Blue Bottle won’t lose its roots.

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Image: Coffee Circle