In a high-speed city like New York, where five extra minutes in the morning can often translate into a missed train, rush hour cab traffic or your roommates using up all the hot water leaving you with a cold shower, do Williamsburg residents really have time to wait three whole minutes for a cup of drip coffee? If it’s from Berry Street’s brand new coffee bar Blue Bottle, you bet we do: Yes, it’s that good.
Blue Bottle is a San Francisco-based artisinal coffee shop and roastery that opened its very first East Coast location just last week, right here in Williamsburg.
“You know, I was a little nervous about opening a shop in New York. I wasn’t sure New Yorkers would want to wait so long for a coffee,” said Kathleen Nuffort, the Blue Bottle retail and wholesale manager of the café’s Williamsburg location, with a smile. Nuffort, like a handful of the Brooklyn-based Blue Bottle staff, recently relocated from San Francisco to oversee the opening of the new shop. “But we’re just teaching New Yorkers how to wait—and I’ve been shocked at how many coffee people there are in this neighborhood. They are so excited!”
But three minutes is nothing compared to the ten hours of training required for all Blue Bottle baristas. Blue Bottle has its own coffee brewing process that is careful and meticulous—and yields strong, aromatic and incredibly flavorful cups of Joe.
“We don’t have sizes, syrups or flavors here,” Nuffort said. “It really is all about the coffee.”
While it may have been something of a leap of faith to open such a shop in such a fast-paced town, the Blue Bottle ethic of small batches, careful roasting of their coffee beans, coffee grounds ground-to-order and a patience and respect for the brewing process fits beautifully and naturally into the foodie landscape of the neighborhood. Blue Bottle will easily join the ranks of its Williamsburg neighbors—Mast Brothers Chocolate, Marlow and Sons, the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs and the Meat Hook, to name only a few—in helping to develop and grow a community of food enthusiasts promoting and specializing in local, organic and carefully-crafted fare.
“Everyone in Williamsburg is so excited about what everybody else is doing,” Nuffort said. “And to be a part of the community really is the best way to move to New York. Back in San Francisco we were growing and growing and growing. Now, we get to be small again, and everyone has been so supportive.”
Another entrepreneurial ethic that is alive and well in Williamsburg is that of DIY—or Do It Yourself—and Blue Bottle certainly obliges: In addition to a café, Blue Bottle doubles as its own fully-functional in-house coffee bean roastery—a little nod to the Williamsburg waterfront’s industrial legacy.
“We want this to be educational, too,” Nuffort said. Roughly two-thirds of the broad and spacious location is dedicated to housing gigantic sacks of beans, palates of product and roasting machines, which are separated from the café section by an unassuming red rope. “We want people to see the roastery. So many customers have been stopping to ask questions about roasting coffee. It’s really great.”
Blue Bottle was born in 2003, when San Franciscan James Freeman decided to teach himself how to roast coffee beans. Over the next few years, he began selling his coffee at the San Francisco farmer’s market and eventually opened his first shop—a tiny location in a small neighborhood. Since then, the operation has continued to grow and grow.
“It was always James’ dream to open a shop here though,” Nuffort said. “He thought, if we were to have an east coast location, Williamsburg would be perfect.”
When you’ve got a few extra minutes, stop by Blue Bottle. It’s worth the wait.