Blue Bottle Coffee based in California partners multi-platinum recording artist “The Weeknd” Samra Brand
May 4 - 2023
Coffee Geography Magazine
Blue Bottle Coffee, partners with multi-platinum recording artist "The Weeknd" and his record label, XO. Together, they have created Samra Origins, a brand and product line celebrating Ethiopian culture and excellence in coffee. Named in honor of The Weeknd's mother Samra, Samra Origins pays homage to his family's heritage with a shared respect for Ethiopia. He is currently the most listened to artist in the world on Spotify (10M+ monthly listeners) and is a top 10 artist of all time for RIAA singles.
"Ethiopian culture is an important part of my identity and I'm proud to work alongside the Blue Bottle Coffee team to shine a light on Ethiopian traditions, values, and of course, coffee," said The Weeknd also known with his real name Abel Tesfaye. "Growing up, I watched my mother perform Buna Tetu, a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. This sensory experience helped shape my understanding of community and taught me to always honor my roots. Samra Origins is a true passion project that I hope will inspire curiosity and encourage support for Ethiopia's people, while also spreading the warmth and friendship so ingrained in Ethiopian culture."
The country's high mountains, cool climate and shaded forest canopies provide ideal conditions to produce high quality coffees. For centuries, Ethiopia has upended expectations, even among coffee lovers, with its uniquely complex, floral and fruited coffees. With approximately 2.2 million farms nationwide, coffee is also a major economic cornerstone of the country. For more than 20 years, Blue Bottle has sourced select coffees from Ethiopia's most premium farms and continues to nurture many long-term partners in the region.
Through Samra Origins, Blue Bottle and The Weeknd are curating and crafting coffees that encapsulate Ethiopian coffee excellence. Coffee plays an integral part in Ethiopian traditions, especially through the time-honored Buna Tetu coffee ceremony.
"Ethiopian coffee is truly in a class of its own and the country holds a special place within our Blue Bottle community," explained Karl Strovink, CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee. "Since Blue Bottle Coffee's inception in 2002, we've sourced coffee from Ethiopia. In 2023, Ethiopia is still consistently among our top origins by volume. I'm excited that we're extending our commitment there with Samra Origins so we can continue to share the best of Ethiopian coffee and support our network of producers in the country."
Blue Bottle's Samra Origins launches this month with a limited release of Exceedingly Rare Ethiopia Wolde Faye Koricha COE #7 ($65 per 100 gram tin), available exclusively online at www.samraorigins.com. Recognized by the Ethiopia Cup of Excellence (COE) - the most prestigious competition and auction of high quality coffees - everything about this single origin coffee, from its processing method to its distinct flavor profile, upholds centuries of traditions originated and perfected by Ethiopian coffee farmers. Producer Wolde Faye Koricha used a natural process for this lot, harkening back to the first coffees ever made that dried under the Ethiopian sun. Its vibrant flavor profile captures the classic notes of fresh fruit and bright florals this region is praised for. Starting today, Blue Bottle guests can sign up online for the waitlist to be the first to know when this coffee drops on May 9, 2023.
The Weeknd and Samra developed the first Samra Origins blend in collaboration with Blue Bottle's Head of Innovation & Quality, Benjamin Brewer. Brewer selected some of Ethiopia's best coffees to craft three blend variations. During cupping sessions, both The Weeknd and his mother tasted each variation and carefully selected the offering most similar to the coffee Samra brews at home. From there, Blue Bottle carefully worked with The Weeknd to fine tune the blend. After making final adjustments, the end result is a distinctly delicious blend that pays homage to both Samra and Ethiopia with Blue Bottle's signature attention to tasting notes and quality.
Debuting in Summer 2023, the blend whole bean will be available for purchase online and in select Blue Bottle cafes in the US. These cafes will also offer this coffee as cold brew.
Born to Ethiopian immigrants, The Weeknd's strong ties to his family's heritage ignited his passion about Ethiopia and giving back to communities in need. The Samra Origins partnership signals a mutual commitment between Blue Bottle Coffee and The Weeknd to maintain traditions and unify communities. As part of The Weeknd's humanitarian efforts, Blue Bottle will donate to the XO Humanitarian Fund, administered by World Food Program USA. The Fund supports the United Nations World Food Programme's lifesaving emergency operations in hunger hotspots around the world, with a special focus on Ethiopia where an estimated 20 million people require urgent humanitarian food assistance.
"Samra Origins honors our longstanding commitment to caring for communities around the globe," said Strovink. "We jumped at the opportunity to work with The Weeknd because his advocacy with the World Food Program inspires us to continue lifting up communities in need and highlighting their incredible work."
"We are grateful to have The Weeknd and Blue Bottle Coffee's steadfast support as we work to feed families in hunger hotspots worldwide," said Barron Segar, President and CEO of World Food Program USA. "Private sector partners like Blue Bottle Coffee are critical in generating both public awareness and funding to save the 43 million people on the brink of starvation across 51 countries."
Blue Bottle Coffee was founded by James Freeman in Oakland, California, in 2002 with a simple yet revolutionary idea: to serve delicious coffee, roasted fresh and brewed to order, sourced from the finest, most sustainable coffee farms. Today, Blue Bottle is a global network of cafes in the US and Asia.