Blue Bottle Coffee is launching its latest small batch as the Nestlé-owned brand aims to deliver an ultra-special coffee in a category where premiumization is rapidly growing in popularity.
The latest specialty coffee comes from a region in Yemen known for its majestic 7,500-foot elevations and dry climate. The offering is part of Blue Bottle’s Exceedingly Rare program of single-origin coffees that are often available in minuscule quantities. Exceeding Rare typically highlights up-and-coming regions, an experimental process, or a rare variety.
“We find coffees throughout the year that really just capture our imagination,” said Benjamin Brewer, senior director of global innovation and quality at Blue Bottle. “These coffees really should undoubtedly and obviously sort of be the best coffee that we can find.”
Coffee consumption is at a two-decade high, according to data released in 2022 by the National Coffee Association. Americans consume nearly half a billion cups of the beverage each day, making it the most popular drink ahead of water, tea and juice. It’s also getting more popular with younger adults. NCA said 51% of young adults between 18 and 24 drink coffee, representing an increase of 11% since July 2021.
The growth in the global specialty coffee market is especially robust. The category through 2030 is forecast to surge to $155.67 billion, a compound annual growth rate of 12.8%, according to data from Adroit Market Research. The data analytics firm said distinct flavors and higher quality beans that differ from normal coffee have contributed to the specialty category experiencing greater market prominence.
The Exceedingly Rare program, which Blue Bottle started in its current form in 2019, offers a waitlist to notify consumers when it launches new offerings. In addition to Exceedingly Rare Yemen, previous coffees sourced by Blue Bottle for this program come from places around the globe such as Colombia, Taiwan and Guatemala. The Taiwanese coffee sold out within two days.
Nestlé has targeted coffee as a major growth pillar, and the company has been moving aggressively to follow through on that commitment, innovating its core offerings such as Nescafe and Nespresso and building up through acquisitions. Nestle purchased a nearly 70% stake in California-based Blue Bottle Coffee for a reported $425 million five years ago.
A major part of the Nestlé strategy has been to control an entire category, from mainstream offerings to higher-end brands. Blue Bottle, best known for its specialty coffee beans and retail stores, fits decisively into this premium space.
Exceedingly Rare Yemen whole bean and small batch instant are created by the same producer but from separate lots and harvest years, bringing a new taste to each cup, the brand said. Whole bean has hints of dried cherry, blood orange and lavender, while instant conjures up tamarind, black cherry and vanilla. Collectively, about 290 pounds of coffee were purchased to make Exceedingly Rare Yemen, with only a third of it going toward the instant, Brewer estimated.
Exceedingly Rare “is led by deliciousness and curiosity,” said Brewer, who said the quality of the latest blend will justify the higher price tag. “We’re undoubtedly and unapologetically flavor forward. That’s how we arrive at some of the decisions around these products.”
Given the finite supply, Blue Bottle’s Exceedingly Rare Yemen won’t come cheap. The whole bean retails for $80 for a 100-gram tin, while the instant sells for $65 for three single 100-milliliter servings along with a limited-edition sipping glass etched with the Blue Bottle logo. The coffees are sold online and are meant for consumers who take a deep interest in coffee.
Yemen is the first Exceedingly Rare coffee to be sold in soluble form. Last October, Blue Bottle Coffee debuted an instant espresso. It was the 21-year-old brand’s first soluble coffee product in the U.S. after three years of development and harvesting insight from Nestlé.
“There’s a level of mastery here that feels like it’s legitimate and authentic,” Brewer said of the Exceedingly Rare Yemen Small Batch Instant Coffee. “This is the reason why I’m in coffee is to feel inspired and certainly share that curiosity and wonder.”