Exporting More Than Coffee
James Freeman opened The Blue Bottle Coffee Company in Oakland, CA as a place for people who want to enjoy the taste of freshly roasted coffee. James and his team have taken their passion for great coffee and built it into a small network of cafes, wholesale partners, an espresso cart, a coffee kiosk, and some vintage German coffee roasters. Because they recognized that the good people of Oakland weren’t the only ones who should savor their offerings, they have exported their concept across the bay to San Francisco, and across the country to Brooklyn.
But coffee isn’t all they have exported. Blue Bottle Coffee did not offer paid sick days before the San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance went into effect in 2007. According to James, the Ordinance “gave us the gentle nudge to do the right thing. While we have always believed in sick days in principle, the law was the impetus to put this policy into effect in our business.”
Blue Bottle Coffee now offers paid sick days to its 212 workers in all three locations, even though they are not legally required to do so in Oakland and Brooklyn. James said, “It is simpler to have a paid sick days policy for all of my workers in all of our locations, even though we are only required to do so in San Francisco. We believe all workers deserve paid sick days and also find it administratively easier to have one policy for all of our workers.”
To show his support for the New York City paid sick days campaign, James signed a business letter of support. He thinks that it is particularly important to have paid sick days in an industry providing customer service because he doesn’t want his workers serving customers while sick. He actually sees a competitive advantage to offering paid sick days because it helps ensure the health of the entire workforce.
Think about it: would you rather have your morning latte served up by a barista who is nursing a cold or the picture of health? That’s a question worth exporting!