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Blue Bottle Coffee opens in Korea

Blue Bottle Coffee will open its first café in Korea on 3 May, marking a new phase of growth for the company in Asia.

Blue Bottle's roughly 4300-square-metre headquarters in Seoul will also include a roastery and training lab, which will be open for public tours, classes, and tastings.

Blue Bottle will open a second cafe in Seoul later in the second quarter and has plans for more cafés by the end of 2019.

Korea is the second international market for the company, which opened its first Tokyo cafe in 2015, inspired by the hospitality of traditional Japanese kissaten – Japanese for coffee house – culture.

"Every time we visit Korea, we are deeply honoured by the enthusiasm and love for our brand," Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan says.

"Our Instagram account has more followers in Seoul than any other city in the world. Korean guests have travelled thousands of miles to meet us in the United States and Japan. Finally, we are bringing Blue Bottle to our loyal Korean guests."

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The industrial red brick building that Blue Bottle Korea will call home is located in the Seongsu neighbourhood, often referred to as the "Brooklyn" of Seoul.

Blue Bottle sees huge potential for growth in the Korean coffee market, which is quickly emerging as an international destination for specialty coffee. Koreans consume more than 25 billion cups of coffee per year and more than half of the world's Q-graders — coffee specialists licensed to purchase premium green coffee beans — live in South Korea.

With more than 18,000 coffee shops in Seoul alone, the company enters a highly competitive atmosphere. Blue Bottle Korea says it plans to differentiate itself with its rigorous attention to quality, sustainable practices, and bringing expressive blends and rare single origins sourced through direct trade to the county.

James Freeman founded Blue Bottle Coffee in Oakland, California in 2002. Seventeen years later, Blue Bottle has a network of cafés in ten cities in the US, Japan, and Korea.

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