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Why Blue Bottle Coffee Lost Its Wholesale Buzz

Blue Bottle Coffee, a specialty coffee maker, is saying goodbye to its wholesale business.

The news hit the blog of the Oakland, California-based coffee maker on Monday (June 22). The post explained that Blue Bottle is going to turn its attention toward its 20 retail cafes and a coffee subscription service that ships to consumers’ home.

So why is Blue Bottle getting away from one of its most important revenue streams? Founder James Freeman explains in the blog. He decided it was time to take control of the entire coffee business and scale things back.

“This moment has been eating away at me for a while. To me, it is symbolic of the difficulties that are inherent in selling coffee wholesale. I get nervous when we can’t control the contexts, methods and outcomes that are part of the experience of drinking our coffee. Because of that, I have decided to close the wholesale division of Blue Bottle Coffee,” Freeman wrote. “This decision has been a difficult one, as our wholesale partners have been an important part of our journey.”

He acknowledged in the post that it was a tough business decision, in large part due to the fact that wholesale has been a key revenue stream for the company. But the time has come for Blue Coffee to take control over its product.

“Taking responsibility for absolutely every drink made from our coffee is a logical next step for us. We have learned that crafting increasingly delicious coffee is an iterative process that only works when your buyers, production teams, roasters, baristas and cafes are interconnected and sharing their discoveries. Continuous improvement requires an unbroken feedback loop,” he wrote. “In the upcoming months we will wind down the wholesale division and will be concentrating our efforts on Blue Bottle retail cafes and Blue Bottle at Home.”

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