The Bay Area may be imploding beyond recognition as housing prices skyrocket, regional train service BART becomes increasingly unreliable and unaffordable, and homeless encampments spill into city streets. But at least there is Blue Bottle to make it all better by giving some folks a place where they could stand in extraordinarily long lines while some dude with a long beard pours steaming hot water over one cup of outrageously priced coffee at a time.
But wait, what’s this!? We awake this morning to learn that international conglomerate Nestlé, makers of Nescafe and those delicious non-trendy Stouffer’s frozen pizzas that one buys at Walgreens, has acquired a majority share of venture-backed Blue Bottle Coffee to enter what is now being called without humor or irony the high-end artisanal coffee market.
Or, as they call it where I live in France: Starbucks for hipsters.
— Elizabeth ⛰ (@ElisabethEnt) September 15, 2017
According to Reuters, Nestlé paid $425 million to acquire 68 percent of Blue Bottle. This will allow Nestlé, says Reuters, to plunge into “the hipster world of speciality bars that serve high-end, single-origin and cold brewed coffees.”
That’s certainly good news for Blue Bottle’s investors, who have pumped $121 million of venture capital in the company, according to Crunchbase. If Reuters’ numbers are correct, that would value the company at around $625 million. As venture returns go, it’s middling-to-fair returns. Investors include True Ventures, Index Ventures, Google Ventures, Ev Williams, Chris Sacca, Jared Leto, Kevin Systrom, and Matt Mullenweg. Basically, everyone but you.
But why oh why does Nestlé care? Without a hint of snark or smirking, Reuters explains:
Nestle’s purchase also comes amid consolidation in the so-called third-wave coffee sector in the United States. This market caters to mostly young, urban customers who have grown up on Starbucks but have progressed to more exotic drinks coaxed from hand-operated espresso machines or non-traditional brewers by expert baristas.
Of course, this will all mean even more Blue Bottle cafes, everywhere eventually. Soon, thanks to an influx of corporate capital, the entire world will be able to experience the exact same sense of individualism that comes with staring at the drip-drip-drip of their own personal cup of coffee being made just for them.