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Big in Japan: Blue Bottle Coffee’s Japan Journey with Founder & CEO, James Freeman

August 31, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

$5 – $25

photo credit: Andrew Curry

Bay Area coffee legend Blue Bottle Coffee is known for its delicious coffee and aesthetic sensibilities.  Over the years, many visiting Japanese coffee enthusiasts have fallen in love with it, and now they can get their Blue Bottle fix closer to home, as the company opened its first two cafes in Tokyo last year, with a third cafe opened at Shinjuku station early 2016, and an opening in Roppongi scheduled for the fall.
Eschewing the typical franchising route, Blue Bottle has taken the unusual approach of entering the Japanese market 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 Blue Bottle Coffee in Tokyo, waiting up to two hours for a coffee.
Entering the Japanese market had been a longtime dream of 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:

James FreemanPrior to opening Blue Bottle Coffee, James Freeman was a San Francisco-based freelance clarinetist. He opened Blue Bottle 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 26 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, 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, daughter Linden, and his wife Caitlin, whom he met while making coffee at the Berkeley farmers’ market.


  • 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM       Networking/Registration
  • 6:45 PM – 8:00 PM       Presentation with audience Q&A
  • 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM       Networking & Reception

Light appetizers and soft drinks provided

Purchase Tickets:

Eventbrite - Big in Japan: Blue Bottle Coffee’s Japan Journey with Founder & CEO, James Freeman

  • No refunds after Wednesday, August 24
  • Online registration closes at 12:00pm on Wednesday, August 31
  • Walk-ins accepted at $25 per person (New discounted price!)

Japan Society Strategic Partner Event Sponsor

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August 31, 2016
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
$5 – $25



Cubberley Community Center Theatre
4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303 United States
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