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Big in Japan:  James Freeman, Founder and CEO, Blue Bottle Coffee:  Bringing Blue Bottle to Japan

May 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

$10 – $25

Bay Area coffee legend Blue Bottle coffee is known for its delicious coffee and for its sense of style.  Over the years, many visiting Japanese coffee enthusiasts have fallen in love with it, and now they can get their Blue Bottle fix, as the company opened its first cafes in Tokyo this year.
Eschewing the typical franchising route, Blue Bottle has taken the unusual approach of entering the Japanese market itself with full ownership of its operations there.  This enables the company to have greater control and to ensure the authenticity of its coffee in Japan.  Appreciative Japanese fans have responded by flocking to the two Blue Bottle cafes in Tokyo, leading to hours-long waits.
Entering the Japanese market had been a longtime dream for Blue Bottle’s founder James Freeman, an enthusiastic fan of Japanese culture.  Blue Bottle uses a lot of Japanese equipment, and its approach to coffee has  a lot in common with Japan’s tradition of craftsmanship.  James has been spending a lot of time in Japan in connection with the company’s entry there, giving him even more opportunities to connect with the culture.
In this presentation, James will share the company’s story of its Japan market entry, including what adjustments they made to Japanese culture (and what they didn’t change) and what’s been the most interesting and surprising in the company’s experience so far.  James will also share what he loves about Tokyo, the inspiration he draws from Japan’s kissaten culture, and how he embraces the Japanese concept of kodawari.
James Freeman:
Prior to opening Blue Bottle, he was a San our_james_drinks_coffeeFrancisco-based freelance clarinetist. He opened Blue Bottle Coffee in the summer of 2002 in a 186-square-foot converted potting shed in Oakland, California. James is the author of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, which was published by 10 Speed Press. He has been Imbibe Magazine’s coffee professional of the year and one of Fast Company Magazine’s 100 most creative people in business.
Blue Bottle Coffee now has sixteen cafes and four roasteries split between the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Blue Bottle has been featured in national and international press including ABC, NBC, and Fox TV, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, and Casa Brutus.
James lives a block from Alamo Square in San Francisco with his son, Dashiell, and his wife Caitlin, whom he met while making coffee at the Berkeley farmers market.
Online Registration:

Online registration closes at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, May 6

No refunds will be issued after Wednesday, April 29


  • $25/person at the door
  • Tickets will be dependent on space availability.


  • 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM       Networking/Registration
  • 6:45 PM – 8:00 PM       Presentation
  • 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM       Networking
  • Light appetizers and drinks provided.

Community Supporter:


btrax is a localization and marketing agency specializing in Asian market entry and growth. Their team has provided critical market research, brand localization and digital marketing for leading companies such as Expedia, Lumosity, Toys “R” Us, Square, Bonobos, Wix and Cisco. btrax also works closely with top brands from Japan such as Sony, Canon, Calbee, Rakuten, Softbank and Omron. Learn more about btrax: http://btrax.com


May 6, 2015
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
$10 – $25


Women’s Building
3543 18th St #8
San Francisco, CA 94110 United States
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