Musicians Create Real Buzz With Signature Coffee Blends

James Murphy, Beck, St. Vincent jump on java brand trend

Are coffee brands becoming the new celebrity clothing lines? James Murphy, Beck and St. Vincent have all recently joined the list of musicians releasing their own signature blends with hip coffee companies.

"I love coffee. I sometimes get excited at night thinking of the coffee I'll get to drink in the morning. Coffee is a reason to wake up," says Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) of her new signature Chicago-based blend, Bring Me Your Mugs, with Intelligentsia Coffee, available at its stores in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Says Clark of the brand: "I have stood at their counter waiting for my order, like a fan waiting for a show."

Murphy's espresso, House of Good, can be picked up at select Blue Bottle locations, and Beck's limited-edition L.A.-based blend sold out at Handsome Roasters Coffee in February in a matter of weeks. What's in it for the artists is that they get promotion at the coffee companies' locations (on a cooler, smaller scale than Norah Jones CDs at Starbucks.) Clark's recent self-titled album is available for purchase at the same Intelligentsia locations where her fruit-forward, Costa Rican coffee is available.

Stephen Morrissey, director of communications for Intelligentsia, says the 31-year-old singer's record label approached the Chicago-based coffee shop a few months ago. "Samples were sent to her on tour and after a bit of back-and-forth deciding which coffee to use and what we'd call it, we ended up with Bring Me Your Mugs," he says.

Like Clark, 43-year-old Beck used his collaboration with Handsome Coffee Roasters (which Blue Bottle acquired in April) and Filter magazine in February to help promote his latest album, "Morning Phase."

According to Blue Bottle CEO James Freeman, the partnership with former LCD Soundsystem frontman Murphy is driven by his love of java. "[The Murphy collaboration] works because he loves coffee so much - he loves it very purely and very deeply," says Freeman. "It's not a passing fancy or a new interest for him." Murphy, 44, approached Oakland, Calif.-based Blue Bottle after his manager read an article about Freeman and thought the two would hit it off. "It's not just his name on a bag. He took the momentum to guide this espresso," says Freeman.

These musicians are propelling a growing trend. Intelligentsia previously has done limited-edition releases with Wilco, Mayer Hawthorne and Adlib, while such artists as Kiss, Dave Mustaine and Styx have all released their own blends in the past. And Blue Bottle's Freeman notes that he would be open to another artist collaboration in the future. "Never say never," he says. "It takes a lot of time to do something like this. But it might be fun if other people are interested in working on it."


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