We know how you take your coffee: Ground before your eyes, then sprinkled into a filter that slowly receives water on a drip bar. No sizes. No syrup. Just a fresh, flavorful brew.
This type of coffee construction was unusual for a San Francisco cafe when James Freeman launched his first Blue Bottle Coffee Company kiosk in 2005.
These days, we know the value of meticulously sourced beans and diverse roasting methods. In less than a decade, Blue Bottle has become one of the country's most prominent artisan roasters,with six cafes in the Bay Area and roasteries on both coasts.
Now, Freeman, who founded the company in a 186-square-foot potting shed off the patio of Dona Tomas in Oakland, has written his first book, "The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes" (Ten Speed, $24.99, 229 pages) about this farm-to-cup culture.
In the book, co-written by Tara Duggan and featuring 30 divine coffee-friendly recipes by Freeman's wife, Blue Bottle pastry chef and Miette co-founder Caitlin Freeman, he explains how to roast beans at home, make the perfect pourover or espresso and taste coffee like an industry pro.
Q Who is this book written for?
A This is for so many of our customers, the people who like coffee but might not have ever been to a coffee farm or a cupping event. They want to learn more, like how to roast beans at home. It's fun and easier than you might think.
Q In the book, you say coffee allows you to change the brain chemistry of your customers. Are you talking about caffeine, or something more?
A Caffeine is part of it, but coffee is very complex. For instance, coffee skin has a higher percentage of antioxidants than blueberries. Just like wine or chocolate, it contains many powerful ingredients.
Q After a decade in the biz, what kind of guy are you? Single origin or blend?
A I think there's a place for both. When I'm wearing my robe in the morning, sometimes I want it to be snug and sometimes I like it loose. Coffee's the same. I like being comforted by consistency or surprised by the complexity of a blend.
Q What are the origins of cupping, the industry method of evaluating coffee?
A Cupping started in San Francisco at places like Hills Brothers in the first part of the 20th century. They were doing it for quality control. Today, coffee guys go overboard with it. I think they have sommelier-envy.
Q What's the most important element of cupping?
A Like wine tasting, people feel put on the spot to come up with an adjective or descriptor. But, our senses are much more comparative, so focusing on noting the differences can often teach us more.
Q Any chance of opening a kiosk east of Oakland, or in South Bay?
A Not in terms of going through the tunnel -- yet. Maybe we'll start in Berkeley and creep our way east.
Blue Bottle Coffee Company offers free public coffee cuppings at 2 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays at 300 Webster St. in Oakland. For more information, go to www.bluebottlecoffee.com.