Building Blue Bottle with James Freeman

07.19.2022 The Fullest Podcasts

There’s a Blue Bottle coffee shop in most LA, SF, and NYC neighborhoods — but it wasn’t always that way. James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle, saw a need in the coffee community, rolled up his sleeves, and began to fill it. Humble and hardworking beginnings resonated with coffee lovers and put him on the path to the Blue Bottle we know today. As one of our most beloved coffee shops (also because they use our favorite Goodmylk in their drinks), it was a delight to speak to James.

A few things we chatted about: 

  • Blue Bottle being born from James seeing a need that wasn’t being met
  • His early days at farmer’s markets and running a cash only business
  • Moving online and trading coffee for websites
  • Starting a business at the same time you start a family and the urgency and clarity that brings
  • His demand outgrowing his supply and the path to brick and mortar stores and early investors
  • Rapid growth and the move to going from a majority owner to minority owner and the psychological change that entails
  • The way creative founders and VCs need each other
  • The importance of being profitable is much more important now than five to ten years ago
  • Instagram versus brick and mortar advertising
  • James’ current projects, including Blue Bottle’s expansion into Japan and the differences between doing business in other cultures
  • And finally, Blue Bottle selling to Nestle and his family life in Ojai

This episode is full of real words of wisdom from a person that has learned by doing. If you’re an entrepreneur or looking to turn a passion into profit, as James said himself, he has an MBA  from his early days growing Blue Bottle, so make sure to tune in and take notes. 

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