Some stuff coming down the pipeline for BYO*ToGo but had some unfinished business. A visit to Blue Bottle Coffee.
Blue Bottle Coffee, Chelsea. There are several people standing near the cash register waiting for their coffee. It’s sounds of light conversation and coffee grinding that fill the air. No music. Open, high ceilings – this place was once a loading dock.
I make my way up the stairs to survey the seating situation. I see a guy starting to move things to one side of a bar table. We make eye contact and indicate my interest in the spot. He says, “yes! I’m consolidating”. We both laugh and I tell him I’m usually the one sprawled out. He’s on a quick break from shooting for Video Fashion.
I head back down to the front of the store with my reusable and order the drip coffee that they prepare fresh (pour over). I begin telling a tall, friendly baristas about the various projects I’m involved in as I wait for my coffee. He mentions I can speak with the manager who happens to be in today. A flood of people trickle in so I step aside to let him take the orders and move over to the counter where the other barista is making my coffee.
A few minutes later, my coffee is handed to me in a PAPER CUP! *breath in aaaannnd out* A surge of panic mixed with utter dejection rises in me. I Blue Bottled it. I forgot how vigilance is really important for avoiding the use of disposables.
I pour the coffee into my reusable and put the the paper cup in my bag. “I’ll find some use for it” I say to console myself.
An hour passes. I see a silver bearded man with a striped black and white shirt walk up the stairs. Immediately I know it’s Pedro, the store manager. He has a warm smile and greets me in his Spanish accent.
I begin with full-on information blast of everything I’ve been working on. Pedro remains quiet, patiently and intently listening to me. After this info session, I’m told about what the company is doing around sustainability, which is one of their three values (deliciousness and hospitality are the other two). All cups AND straws are biodegradable. They don’t waste their roasted coffee, sometimes using leftover for cold brew. All the New York stores have in-store composting for customers except for the Chelsea location (building management doesn’t use a hauler with this option).
Pedro also highlights the company’s efforts on sustainable coffee packaging and sourcing, farmer education programs, and mentions the charitable work with their Blue Bottle Coffee Foundation (was trying to find more info on this with little luck, but read here how it was described as “a way to champion and fundraise for various causes, connecting each coffee shop with a local charity”). A sense of warmth envelops my chest hearing about these efforts. I can see and feel Pedro is deeply invested in this commitment to sustainability and charitable work.
As we close our conversation, Pedro turns and says to me, “this made my whole day.” Another hit right in the feels!
I’m walking away with a greater appreciation for what this company is doing, and hoping they’ll be able to find an effective way to raise greater awareness among their customers of their efforts and actions, as well as increase their use of “for here cups” for stay in customers.
FYI, the bathroom inspection is non-existent because there wasn’t one. No drink discount for bringing your own cup (at least not yet ;), but they are happy to make your drink using it, regardless of size. Also, if you you happen to be around the area with your furry friend, they’ve got your him/her covered with a bowl of treats!
One final fun fact. The name Blue Bottle is in honor of the first coffee house that opened in Europe (Vienna, Austria). The story of how that came about which involved this this dude Kolshitsky and some 007 work to drive out the Turkish Army in the late 1600’s is worth a read!