A few weeks ago, Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman and former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy arranged a formal coffee tasting, or “cupping,” at Blue Bottle’s Brooklyn location. An essay penned by Ian Parker in The New Yorker walks us through the cupping ceremony, cluing the reader in on Freeman and Murphy’s coffee epiphanies while the two attempt to come up with the perfect James Murphy Blue Bottle espresso blend.


“I feel I would lose myself for a good two years if I went too deep. I’m a rabbit-holer,” says Murphy of his interest in coffee. Murphy started his electro dance-punk group, LCD Soundsystem, back in 2001. A decade later, Murphy left the group because he “wanted to spend more time with his coffee.” In 2012, at the age of 41, Murphy took a two-day course in London with a renowned barista, and began to consult with other professionals about creating his own espresso blend. Through his caffeinated journey, Murphy found Blue Bottle’s James Freeman.

“I feel I would lose myself for a good two years if I went too deep. I’m a rabbit-holer,” says Murphy of his interest in coffee.

Murphy’s “midlife project” involves opening a general store, and selling the proposed Blue Bottle James Murphy blend at his store. During the formal tasting at Blue Bottle, the two Jameses veered away from the ultra bright, acidic coffee that is in vogue these days.

“They crouched over the dry coffees—two from South America, two from East Africa, one from Indonesia—and sniffed them,” reports Parker. They smelled cups of dry coffees with their mouths open (as Freeman instructed) and tapped on the cup three times to release the aromas. Then hot water was poured over each coffee and they smelled again. Finally, they tasted spoonfuls of the wet grounds and spat them out.

“Wow, that’s crazy!” Murphy says of one Brazilian peaberry coffee. Murphy and Freeman then blended different coffees, and discussed what proportions of each should go into the blend. Murphy tasted pot in one blend, and Freeman tasted the flavor of “purple” in another. Murphy started losing his sharp sense of taste at the end of the cupping, so he packed a few of the coffees and blends to take home, hoped on his collapsible bike, and biked to his nearby Williamsburg apartment. We’d like to get our hands on the not too acidic Blue Bottle James Murphy espresso blend when it hits stores. We’ll keep you updated as to when you can get your hands on it, too.


[via The New Yorker]