Blue Bottle Coffee
For those of you who work downtown and crave Blue Bottle coffee, the walk to Mint Plaza (not to mention the ever-present line out the door) can sometimes be enough to make you want to give up altogether. Rescuing Union Square from coffee desert status is Grand Prix, a Blue Bottle-slinging pop-up shop in Azul Lounge operating Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4 pm and weekends from 9 am to 3 pm.
Today only, these guys are giving free coffee to scooter riders (the name "Grand Prix" is an old Lambretta model), so get your afternoon caffeine fix if you've got one.
I had hoped to have a report on Contraband or Ma*Velous today, but neither was open to the public when we stopped by earlier this week. (According to Ma*Velous publicist Claudia Juestel, its a permitting matter. It's always a permitting matter. Every new cafe struggles with permitting, and it always takes longer than expected.) In the interim, I thought I'd look at some interesting coffee news from around the Bay this week including, yes, Blue Bottle and Dolores Park.
"Wow, that is not going to be charming and innocuous." With that revelation from Blue Bottle founder and co-owner James Freeman, there will be no Blue Bottle in Dolores Park. Freeman told us on the phone that he had decided to pull the plug given the fierce opposition he faced. Threats to bring thousands of people out to spit on employees (see the comments) on opening day, apparently, were more than he felt like dealing with. His investment in a trailer and new employees, he says, will go elsewhere. "We'll find somewhere else to park it and find room for my crew."
When San Francisco's Rec & Park approved a Blue Bottle coffee cart (or more properly, a trailer) it set off howls of protest in the Mission district. Opponents have questioned what kind of impact it will have on existing businesses and nearby roasters. There have been angry meetings, and even angrier blog comments. We spoke to Blue Bottle founder and co-owner James Freeman to find out what all the ruckus was about.
As far as big-name roasters in San Francisco go, none are bigger than Blue Bottle. Locals love it, and tourists flock to it like gulls to an untended ham sandwich. The company has been on an expansionist tear in the last couple of years. Since 2008, it has opened new locations at Mint Plaza, the Ferry Building, Jack London Square in Oakland and, perhaps most famously, Brooklyn. But for years, there's been one notable part of town where Blue Bottle has been eclipsed by other roasters: The Mission. No more. Thanks to one gorgeous new cafe and restaurant that's just opening, and another coffee cart site on the way, the Mission is about to enter a new blue phase.
Now that summer is almost over, it's finally starting to warm up in San Francisco. And since few of us here have air-conditioning, likely the last thing you want to do on these hot days is to slug down an even hotter drink. But you still need your caffeine fix, right? Enter the iced coffee.
It's hard to start a business in the Bay Area. And even harder to make it successful. We're inspired by the couples who have done it together and have decided to highlight them every week in our new "Bay Area Power Couples" blog series. Check back on Fridays for Q&A's with the couples who run some of our favorite local businesses.