Touring Blue Bottle Coffee’s HQ in Oakland, California

IMG_4660

Stephen Vick and I go way, way back: we’ve been friends for about 11 years. It was wonderful then, that on a visit home to see my parents in Berkeley, Calif., over the holidays, I was able to catch up with Stephen at Blue Bottle Coffee in Oakland, where he is the company’s green coffee buyer.

I brought my coffee-loving dad along for the visit, which started with a cupping, then led into a tour of the facilities, then ended up in another cupping. It was a terrific morning. Here are some photos from the visit yesterday. Happy new year, folks!

The exterior of Blue Bottle's facilities in Oakland. This building houses the roasting and production departments, cupping lab, administrative offices, and a bustling cafe.

The exterior of Blue Bottle’s facilities in Oakland. This building houses the roasting and production departments, green coffee storage, cupping lab, administrative offices, and a bustling cafe.

Walking up to the cafe.

Walking up to the cafe.

The cupping room, pictured, is adjacent to the cafe, separated by a glass wall so cafe customers can see the QC team evaluating coffees.

The cupping room, pictured, is adjacent to the cafe, separated by a glass wall so cafe customers can see the QC team evaluating coffees.

Just back from a trip to Portland, Ore., Stephen put together a cupping featuring many notable roasters in the Northwest city.

Just back from a trip to Portland, Ore., Stephen put together a cupping featuring many notable roasters in the Northwest city.

A happy surprise at the cupping was running into my dear old friend Björg Brend, formerly of the Nordic Barista Cup, and her partner, John Laird, all pictured here with Stephen.

A happy surprise at the cupping was running into my dear old friend Björg Brend, formerly of the Nordic Barista Cup, and her partner, John Laird, all pictured here with Stephen.

The cafe is busy all day, every day.

The cafe is busy all day, every day.

Going back into the roasting and production areas, Stephen showed us this grinder, which is exclusively used for cold brew.

Going back into the roasting and production areas, Stephen showed us this grinder, which is exclusively used for cold brew.

I was super impressed by the organization of the space -- which is massive but still hardly big enough for the rapidly growing company. This aisle contains all the equipment and products needed for Blue Bottle's hefty presence at local farmers markets, as well as rotating off-site activities.

I was super impressed by the organization of the space — which is massive but still hardly big enough for the rapidly growing company. This aisle contains all the equipment and products needed for Blue Bottle’s hefty presence at local farmers markets, as well as rotating off-site activities. (That’s my dad and Stephen in their hair nets.)

Green coffee storage.

Green coffee storage.

One of the companies two giant Probats (in the Oakland location; New York has its own).

One of the company’s two giant Probats (in the Oakland location; New York has its own).

Explaining the precise roasting tracking software.

Explaining the precise roasting tracking software.

Production area.

Production area.

Hand assembling Blue Bottle's popular gift tubes, which include three tins of special micro lot coffees, and a collectable coaster.

Hand assembling Blue Bottle’s popular gift tubes, which include three tins of special micro lot coffees, and a collectable coaster.

Leaving the roasting and production area, we entered the training and tech space: Tech is back to the right.

Leaving the roasting and production area, we entered the training and tech space: Tech is back to the right.

Training area.

Training area.

One of the two drop-dead gorgeous machines Blue Bottle will be installing in its new showroom in Oakland, set to open in late January.

One of the two drop-dead gorgeous machines Blue Bottle will be installing in its new showroom in Oakland, set to open in late January.

The other machine. Drool.

The other machine. Drool.

Stephen pointed out the uniquely beautiful flower arrangements from a local florist that adorn all the Blue Bottle spaces.

Stephen pointed out the uniquely beautiful flower arrangements from a local florist that adorn all the Blue Bottle spaces.

Upstairs in half of the company's admin areas. The other space is 2 blocks away in a separate building.

Upstairs in half of the company’s admin areas. The other space is 2 blocks away in a separate building.

Big thanks to Stephen and everyone at Blue Bottle for the warm hospitality. I’m more impressed by Blue Bottle than ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.