Oakland’s Blue Bottle Coffee arrives in Georgetown

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Blue Bottle Coffee instructs its staff in the art of "cupping." (photo courtesy of Blue Bottle Coffee)

An Oakland, Calif., favorite has made its way to D.C. This month Blue Bottle Coffee opened at 1046 Potomac St. NW in Georgetown, the first of of three stores planned in the District.

The company was founded in 2002 by James Freeman, who vowed to serve customers “only coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster and to use only the finest, most delicious and responsibly sourced beans,” according to his website.

“We are all about hospitality, sustainability and deliciousness,” said Billy Desmond, lead barista for Blue Bottle Georgetown. “Sometimes it may seem intimidating because we seem really intense, but it’s because we want our customers to feel at home — like a part of our team.”

Desmond has worked for Blue Bottle in San Francisco and Oakland, and he completed a 10-day study tour in Japan to learn about Japan’s coffee culture.

“If you look at our shops, we are heavily influenced by Japanese culture,” Desmond said. “I wanted to bring back that hospitality quality [from Japan]. We really try to create an environment that’s all about the customer and their experience with the coffee.”

Blue Bottle CEO Bryan Meehan said in a news release that D.C.’s already vibrant coffee scene is what inspired him to expand to this area.

Blue Bottle Coffee’s new Georgetown cafe is located at 1046 Potomac St. NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2017)

“We are often motivated by the poetry of a place and the intuitive draw of spaces that we encounter,” Meehan said. “In D.C., we were inspired by a community filled with interested coffee drinkers who are excited about specialty coffee.”

Cupping — the professional observation and tasting of the aromas of coffee — is taken seriously at Blue Bottle. Desmond said that group classes are given for Blue Bottle employees to teach them the best methods for cupping, and ensuring quality taste of their coffee.

“We record the natural process of coffee all the way from it’s coldest state to its warmest state,” Desmond said. “By doing this I can share a flavor profile of each component.”

Blue Bottle offers beverages such as conventional coffee, espresso, Cold Brew and New Orleans-Style Iced Coffee, and its pastries include Liège wafels and toasts. The Hayes Valley Espresso, a combination of dark chocolate and brown sugar, remains a popular choice at various Blue Bottle locations.

“I’m excited to support an already existing coffee culture and continuing to support coffee enthusiasts,” Desmond said.

Blue Bottle is also planning to open a location at Northeast’s Union Market this fall, and will open at The Wharf in Southwest in late 2018. Blue Bottle teams up with local nonprofits for each opening, donating a portion of the proceeds to the community partner, according to a news release.

Proceeds from the Georgetown opening are going to Bread for the City, which provides food, medical care, clothing, legal advocacy and social services to D.C. residents in need. The cafe’s Potomac Street location was previously home to Down Dog Yoga, which still has a Georgetown studio at 1229 34th St. NW.