As many of you know by now, Handsome Coffee Roasters at 582 Mateo in the Arts District will change over into Los Angeles’ base of operations for Blue Bottle Coffee this week. This will effectively be the Handsome brand’s sunset. Moments of great change are usually prime fodder for…
What does summer in the Bay Area mean? To us, it’s all about consistency – the frigid nights, the lukewarm days, the fog that unfurls with doomy consistency. In sum: Pretty much zero in the way of meaningful meteorological change.
OK, maybe a little bit. And on these slightly warmer days, our fancies – and, we’re discovering, our guests’ fancies as well – lightly turn to thoughts of New Orleans Iced Coffee cartons. Thus far, these little buddies have only been available individually in our retail locations, at Whole Foods stores, and at select local grocery purveyors. Ordering a larger amount – for a picnic, say, or late-night group study session – was not possible.
Until now, that is. We’re pleased to announce that you can now place bulk orders of our New Orleans cartons for pickup at our Webster coffee (300 Webster St., Oakland Calif. 94607) bar by following these simple instructions.
1. Reach out to our Special Orders team at (you guessed it) email@example.com.
2. Tell them just how many cartons you’d like. They come in cases of 12, and for now we’re accepting orders of 1-4 cases.
3. Mind the ordering timeline! Cases ordered between Friday and Monday at 8:30 a.m. PST will be available for pickup any time on Tuesday. Those ordered between Monday and Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. PST will be available for pickup on Friday.
4. Each case is exactly $48. No tax. Just let your barista you’re here to pick up, and he or she will get squared away with payment.
6. Depending on step 5, repeat.
At last! Here we are with another installment of “Blue Bottle Vs.,” a series in which we compare our lovely coffee company to a bunch of interesting (and often inanimate) things.
This installment? The bottlenose dolphin.
When we brought Handsome Coffee and Tonx under the Blue Bottle banner back in April, the first thing we did was ask questions. Lots of them. How can we make this transition exciting for our new team in Los Angeles? How can our digital team help improve the tools we’re already using on the web? What can we teach each other about sourcing? Quality? Hospitality?
These strategic questions soon begat other, more basic ones. Will we need more bike parking? Does this mean we’re now brewing two Chemexes for our weekly coffee meeting? Is making “new folks’ name” flash cards totally inappropriate?
After a brief period of hand-wringing (no more than 10 minutes, we swear), we got to work. With help and input from Tonx’s production team, we successfully migrated their ordering, roasting and shipping operations to our Oakland roastery. We released the Sumatra Ketiara, a coffee sourced by Blue Bottle and quality tested by all three companies, to Tonx subscribers. And while weaving Tonx-branded selections into Blue Bottle retail locations, we also began selling a few Blue Bottle coffees out of Handsome’s space in Los Angeles. Each collaboration yielded exciting discoveries – and, of course, more questions.
What’s next? Well, very soon, Tonx customers will begin to enjoy more ordering flexibility on their deliveries, along with new Blue Bottle packaging that’s designed to incorporate the best of both companies’ design thinking. Down in Los Angeles, Handsome customers will see their menu options expand to include more single origins, more iced coffee options, and some new pastries. The roastery in L.A.’s Arts District, meanwhile, is in the process of becoming organic certified. And the office is (crucially, mercifully) mere days from being air-conditioned.
Nik Bauman (Tonx), James Freeman (Blue Bottle), Michael Phillips (Handsome)
So yes, the gears are indeed turning. Sometimes quite quickly. By late summer, it will all fall under the Blue Bottle banner.
For now, we’re enjoying the ride. The past couple months have been some combination of invigorating and exhausting – full of long production days, marathon coding sessions, giant order fulfillments, and epic conference calls. Mostly, though, they’ve been punctuated with delightful rewards. We’ve learned our new members’ strengths and passions, and taken turns supporting each other. We’ve gotten beers and gone to baseball games and attended dance parties. We’ve taken quite a shine to each other.
As things move forward, we remain ever grateful for your support. You’ll be hearing from us again with a more detailed sketch of new features and timelines. For now, we’re thrilled to keep serving you coffee.
In the first minute of “Your Love is Killing Me,” fans of Sharon Van Etten will find some of the straightforward, comfortable strength she began teasing out on 2012’s “Tramp.” Yet something’s different here: Van Etten takes her time until it becomes clear that her words — “Break my legs so I won’t walk to you…You tell me that you like it, Your love is killing me,”— is not some run-of-the-mill heartbreak; it’s an emotional catastrophe.
Erratic percussion further agitates things, but the real focus here is Van Etten’s paint-scraping vocals. They quiver and burst, furious and unforgiving. “From a distance I am on to you,” she cries, “but I’ll stab my eyes out so I can’t see.”
You’ll need a whiskey or a glass of wine after a song like this. “Your Love is Killing Me” at once devastating and beautiful, will plunge you into an emotional space you may need a hand climbing out of.
Last War, Haley Bonar’s latest album (out May 20), is at once a brilliant treatise on modern femininity, a dialogue about growing up, and a nostalgic trip back to the energetic days of power pop.
In “Bad Reputation,” its breeziest and most open track, Bonar begins with a riff on banality: “Too much coffee and no smoking/I feel a little lame like I’m kinda boring.” The song is at once an exploration and a mockery of ourselves as we age.
Bonar’s vocals have a wide range of capabilities and moods, but here she takes on the slightest country twang that nicely suits the track’s tone of self-admonishment. “I got a bad reputation/I probably need medication,” she continues. among simple percussion and upbeat guitars, Bonar carefully inches forward. This is a song in which we can find ourselves without taking anything too seriously: the perfect mood-setter for a lighthearted yet introspective weekend.
We’re pleased to debut our new and improved W.C. Morse location page. Starting right this very moment, you can sign up for home machine repairs and espresso trainings at our newest cafe in Oakland. We’ll walk you through the page’s features right here.
Itching to pull perfect shots at home? Setting up a training is as easy as clicking the “Training” tab, then selecting a day, time, and espresso machine. Which machine, pray tell? You’ve got options: You can either choose one of ours (we’ve got four models), or you can bring in your very own. Complete the signup form, and we’ll follow up shortly thereafter. Each lesson is 90 minutes and $150.
Just like signing up for a lesson, dropping off a sick machine is a piece of cake. All you need to do is click the “Repairs” tab and follow the prompts: Let us know what the problem is, what sort of machine you have, and when you’d like to drop it off. A technician will be back in touch within two business days. We ask for a $20 diagnostic fee, which we’ll waive if the machine requires an hour or more of repairs. Our rate for repairs is $65 per hour.
For now, these beauties are available for in-store purchase/pickup only. Click our “Machines” tab to get some background on an array of different espresso machines and grinders. Got an additional question? Don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re excited to help improve your home espresso experience, and we can’t wait to see you at W.C. Morse.
Our Oakland cupping room is normally a pretty quiet place. While we’re evaluating coffees, we make it a point to keep it free of distractions: no meetings, no music, very few words exchanged. Sure, we’ll slurp coffees and compare notes, but the space generally remains a sanctuary. A place where we take care of sensory business.
Until after hours, that is. We’re pleased to debut “Cupping Room Sessions,” a series in which we invite musicians to repurpose the cupping room for their own artistic ends. In our first installment, our Ferry Building barista Kate Smeal performs as Lambs. The video was produced by our friends at Pocketbook Collective (@heyPBC), and sound engineered by Evan Hashi.
In the center of Astronaut Café, there sits a house. A tiny one.
The final iteration of Derek Woodward’s last artistic spree, the house is the product of an old dream to live in his own, movable art. About the size of a potting shed, the wooden skeleton is spliced with glass panels that Woodward salvaged from the defunct Mervyns department store.
The house used to sit in Phoenix, where Woodward grew up, but with nowhere to park it and an indistinct longing to leave Phoenix (“Because everyone leaves Phoenix,” he says), Woodward soon found himself driving it westward, tacked to a car with his father’s boat trailers. He looked around to trailer parks and other land in the East Bay, but he had little more luck finding a spot here than he did at home.
Now, it sits just beyond the freeway’s shadow in a corner of StrEat Food Park—that small, carnivalesque conglomerate of food trucks in SoMa—inside Woodward’s outdoor café. Here, it is strung with art: small sketches by a friend from art school, Megan Low, clotheslined across the front. A shelf near the roof is lined with quaint, found objects. In fact, most everything in Astronaut Café is found. Repurposed relics are both the aesthetic and functional centerpieces. Even the café’s Square interface sits atop a retro register, all metal and cracked paint. As an outdoor café, the boundaries are indistinct, determined by things like fences and an ancient (but functional) upright piano.
Nothing in the theme evokes astronauts, but that’s OK. Woodward isn’t the heavy-handed type.
“I just like what astronauts have done for the collective imagination. I also just like the idea of a bunch of astronauts and astrophysicists sitting around in a café, talking,” he says.
Here, nothing is mechanized, nothing plugged in. Woodward’s barista setup is a pour-over only operation, featuring one kettle and three ceramic drippers. The pastry case (actually just a cake stand) offers a modest pile of waffles and morning buns.
He chose to serve Blue Bottle for one simple reason: It’s his favorite coffee.
Woodward began his life out of school as a stock broker. But he soon dropped the trade to resuscitate his soul and pursue art and building. Or, rather, artful building. In art school, he worked on a series of “sculptural buildings,” breaking each down to repurpose the materials for the next. To Woodward, becoming a businessman was a bit unnatural, the necessary byproduct of wanting to serve food and build community. It’s the same conflict that gives Astronaut its charm, and also makes Woodward unusual.
“I don’t care about money,” he says. “And that makes me a terrible businessman.”
In reality, he’s not a terrible businessman. He is thrifty, and not hell bent on making a profit. But he has built a gentle, verdant oasis in a still-developing part of town. He keeps art supplies and drawing tools on the (salvaged) shelves in the corner. He hopes to draw more artists into the place, to give them space to create and collaborate.
He wants to bring people together. That’s why he’s in the coffee business.