James Freeman, Blue Bottle Coffee Founder, Just Wrote the Book on Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee Company

Any good San Franciscan knows how to muse over a cup of coffee. We can't help but remembering fondly the coffee drinkers at Four Barrel who continued sipping obliviously as two burglars used this hipster hotspot as an attempted escape route last November. I've sat in many a coffee shop, eavesdropping on coffee drinkers engaged in careful analysis as they wax poetic over the chocolate aroma of an espresso shot.

In the book he co-wrote that will hit shelves this October, however, founder and owner of Blue Bottle Coffee Company James Freeman dispels any stain of snobbery from the coffee connoisseur. Freeman collaborated with Blue Bottle pastry chef Caitlin Freeman and James Beard Award-winning food writer Tara Duggan to put all the secrets of Blue Bottle between two covers. Freeman opens The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting and Drinking, with Recipes with a description of his first experiences with coffee. 

He recounts the pre-ground coffee his parents drank with lots of extra-rich milk as he was growing up and the hundreds of glasses he downed as a pharmacological necessity while studying and performing the clarinet through graduate school. After stumbling into the coffee business and building up a name for Blue Bottle with farmers market push carts and a kiosk in a friend's garage, Freeman found himself transformed into a true coffee expert and devotee.

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee is broken down into four sections: Grow, Roast, Drink and Eat. Freeman details how beans are grown in his three favorite coffee regions, Ethiopia, Brazil and El Salvador. Recipes for how to roast at home follow two farmer profiles, as Freeman himself started out as an amateur roaster and encourages the 83% of coffee drinkers who already brew their own coffee that they can roast it as well. In his Drink section, Freeman asks readers if they would cook a good steak in the microwave, calling plug-in brewing a similarly egregious faux pas. The recipe for Blue Bottle's characteristic Pour Over Coffee recipe is almost more exacting than those for the desserts in the "Perfect for Dunking" section that follows.

Blue Bottle's little black book goes on sale October 9. 

We will have to make do drinking and talking about coffee until we can read about it this fall.

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Location Info



Four Barrel Roasters

375 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA

Category: General

Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk

315 Linden, San Francisco, CA

Category: General

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Why is the location for Four Barrel tagged at the bottom of the article instead of Blue Bottle Coffee?


Any claims of coffee tasters need to pass a double-blind test, otherwise, they're just claims. Remember when European wines were automatically thought to be better than American wines? 


 Huh?  Nobody is making claims of that sort in this article.


Now I don't know what you're saying.

A difference in flavor does not mean "better." But if one says Blue Bottle's pour-over is better than anyone else's, then that requires a double-blind taste test. 

Coffee connoisseurs, I'd think, would love to do double-blind tests like wine connoisseurs have been doing. 


The claims are that one method of making coffee is better than another, that coffees from some regions are better than coffees from other regions ... etc.


 "Better" comes down to a matter of taste, but if you can't tell the difference between a French press brew and an espresso, you have neither eyes nor a mouth.

The difference between origins is a little more subtle, but not as subtle as you'd think.  And again, it's a matter of taste.  Nobody is claiming a harrar horse is better than a sumatra or whatever.

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