Strategy Blue Bottle Coffee now has some of the same problems as the craft beer industry — and customers are ready to boycott (CHF)

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Blue Bottle Coffee is facing boycott threats after Nestle acquired a majority stake in the hip coffee brand for up to $500 million.

Blue Bottle is facing boycott threats. play

Blue Bottle is facing boycott threats.

(Blue Bottle Coffee)
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Craft beer brands from Wicked Weed to Funky Buddha have been inundated with criticism and boycott threats over the last year following the news that they're being acquired by beer industry giants.

Now, hip roastery and chain Blue Bottle Coffee is facing similar threats.

On Thursday, news broke that Nestlé had spent up to $500 million to acquire a majority stake in Blue Bottle.

Soon after, the backlash hit.

Some people are already boycotting Nestlé due to its water bottling practices. According to environmental activists, the company allegedly harms communities by bottling and selling water from local water sources, especially in areas where clean water may be a limited resource.

Others don't like the idea of the independent chain being taken over by a huge company.

"And with that, I'm no longer a Blue Bottle fan," one commenter wrote on Blue Bottle's Facebook page. "Nestle is a brutal, inhumane company. Congrats on selling your soul."

Blue Bottle CEO Bryan Meehan said that customers will come around as they realize that the coffee's quality won't change with the acquisition.

"We don't run our company on media headlines or social media headlines," Meehan told Business Insider on Thursday.

He continued: "You can't run your business by worrying what people will think. You have to run your business by believing in what you do. And, I know how things will be in the future — our customers don't."

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(Blue Bottle Coffee)

Founders of craft brewing companies tend to have a similar response to the criticism that follows acquisitions. In general, it's a cycle — acquisition, backlash, promises of continued quality — that's familiar to any craft beer fan.

Despite the backlash, craft brands acquired by major companies tend not to suffer too much in the long term. According to a recent UBS study, 45% of American drinkers believe that independence does not matter when picking a craft beer. What matters is quality.

The same principles apply when it comes to coffee.

"Much of the negative social media reaction has focused on fears that the acquisition will dilute the quality of the coffee in some way, which I think is an entirely unfounded fear," Matthew Barry, beverage analyst at market research firm Euromonitor, told Business Insider. "Nestlé purchased this brand because they know it has a strong reputation for quality and the idea that they have plans to mess with that does not make much sense to me."