This morning, freshly VC-funded Blue Bottle Coffee unveiled the next phase in its evolution: a ready-to-drink, packaged version of its lauded New Orleans Iced Coffee. Oakland-based founder and CEO James Freeman, in partnership with Clover Organic Farms CEO Marcus Benedetti, unveiled the new drink today at EXPO West, a natural-foods conference in Anaheim, and it's scheduled to hit shelves at every Whole Foods in Northern California by mid-March.
The all-organic contents are much like you'd receive at a Blue Bottle shop: coffee, roasted chicory, cane sugar, and Clover milk, in a 10.66-ounce adorable milk carton. Freeman has been cold-brewing the coffee in massive quantities at new Presidio brewery Fort Point Brewing Company; it's then sent up to Clover HQ in Petaluma, where it's mixed with the milk and sugar and packaged in the cartons. Freeman chose Clover's milk in a blind taste test, and also selected it for its sustainability.
Update, 2:31 pm: Freeman, who's been spending his morning pouring samples of the new drink at EXPO West, took a break to chat with us about the new product. "We've been really focused on making it taste good, and the partnership with Clover is just so natural," he says. "They've been doing a great job for us, and they have a great distribution network." The quantity of coffee hasn't overly taxed the company's roastery as of yet—the only hiccup actually turned out to be finding enough organic chicory, though he was eventually able to secure a source.
In terms of a future rollout, Freeman says the next stop for the iced coffee will be Blue Bottle's shops (in the Bay Area, L.A., and NYC), where it'll hopefully arrive within the next few weeks. In April, he hopes to expand to all the Whole Foods stores on the West Coast, followed by a launch in the NYC area in mid- to late May. After that, he'd like to develop four-pack caddies for carrying the drinks, and possibly a bigger carton for sharing. Packaged black coffee is also an interest of Blue Bottle's down the line, though "it's much more challenging, because heating up coffee and cooling it back down isn't great for the taste."
· Blue Bottle Opens Huge New Oakland Cafe [~ ESF ~]
· Blue Bottle Raises $25 Million in VC Funding [~ ESF ~]