Indie coffee brand Blue Bottle isn’t so indie anymore: Nestle is acquiring a majority stake in the Bay Area-based company. The world’s biggest food and beverage brand now owns 68 percent of Blue Bottle, a privilege for which it’s forking over up to $500 million, the Financial Times reports. According to Eater SF, founder James Freeman broke the news to his baristas during a conference call today.
Blue Bottle was founded in 2002, and after beginning its life as a small roastery has grown to encompass 50 minimalist-cool coffee shops located in the Bay Area, LA, NYC, and, as of 2015, Tokyo.
According to a press release, the investment will enable Blue Bottle to invest in new coffee technology, expand its cafes both in the U.S. and internationally, and grow its line of consumer packaged goods (which currently includes cans and paper cartons of ready-to-drink cold coffee, a retail category that’s majorly booming right now). The company is slated to expand into Miami and Boston this year, and is on target to open 25 new cafes in 2017 alone.
“People want to know, are we going to lose control of the company, are we going to have to use Nestle crunch bars in our mochas? The answer, of course is no,” Freeman told Eater SF.
Blue Bottle is just the latest independent roaster to be gobbled up by a corporate behemoth: Both Portland-based Stumptown and Chicago’s Intelligentsia were acquired by Luxembourg-based investment firm JAB Holdings — a coffee superpower which also owns Peet’s Coffee and Keurig — back in 2015.