Is my $4 ice coffee still amazing if it can be packaged into a milk carton?

No, it’s old news. Blue Bottle, having successfully raised $25.75 million in venture capital January, 2014, launched Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee – purchasable in blue and white half-pints milk carton, that summer. I was aware of the launch. Not only had I read about the initiative in several business publications, I also chatted with a couple Lower East Side-based baristas who informed me that Blue Bottle was no longer true, in the pure specialty coffee sort of way, to those in the coffee community.

I didn’t care then because I had plenty of accessible and equally delicious cafes to choose from. It wasn’t until I grabbed my first New York Blue Bottle on Monday, that I noticed how deeply affected I was by the milk, I mean, coffee cartons.

Artisanal coffee, when mass produced like Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee, can still uphold its integrity? (image credit:

Artisanal/specialty coffee charges a higher price than, say Dunkin’ Donut brew, because more attention was paid to producing that perfect sip. From selecting special coffee beans, to paying special attention to roasting and brewing, and of course, making that cup specially for you, specialty coffee is special in a big way. And consumers, like myself, willingly fork over $4, $5 for cold brew and $6+ for latte in exchange.

You see, not only do I know I am drinking good coffee, I know that you know that I know, that the coffee I am drinking is damn good.Or you might not know, which is even better. Because we all relish having  just one more good coffee spot up our sleeves. “Oh you’ve never tried X? It’s fantastic.”

But back to Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee.

There was nothing wrong with the coffee or the price tag. You are not saving money buying the drink in-store or in-carton, both cost roughly $4. Blue Bottle’s version was chicory-laced, as a New Orleans style iced coffee should be, and tasted dark and smooth, with a buttery finish. It was good to drink, with the right balance of milk and sugar. In fact, it was rather good. But it was not brewed specially for me.

Instead, any other person can enjoy my exact same iced coffee by buying a carton of Blue Bottle New Orleans. Instruction to making the perfect brew is as simple as filling a cup with ice and emptying the carton. Sure, you an spin this as democratization of good coffee. Like Internet enhancing information sharing, Blue Bottle would do the same for delicious, fuss-free cold brew. Or it’s the venture dollar talking.

I have not yet decided if pleasure, when mass-produced and mass-divided, could measure up to the same pleasure with a capital “P”. But on the bright side, my newly manicured nails — aquamarine blue, with the index fingers painted a pale sky blue, complimented the bottle logo rather nicely.

blue bottle coffee


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