USA – Nestlé has announced its acquisition of a majority stake in the California-based Blue Bottle Coffee, a high-end specialty coffee roaster and retailer to increase its presence in the high-end market.

Nestlé, the world’s largest food and drinks company, will be paying US$500million for a 68% stake in Blue Bottle Coffee, which operates in US and Japan.

Blue Bottle Coffee is expected to increase its branches to 55 by end of 2017, up from 29 in 2016.

Founded in 2002 by James Freeman, Blue Bottle has raised over $100million from investors such as Google Ventures, founder of Instagram and U2 frontman Bono.

Blue Bottle also sells roasted whole bean, ground coffee and markets ready-to-drink cold brew coffee. Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider identified Coffee as company’s most influential business with quick and wider growth opportunities.

“This move underlines Nestlé’s focus on investing in high-growth categories and acting on consumer trends,” said Schneider.

“Blue Bottle Coffee’s passion for quality coffee and mission-based outlook make for a highly successful brand. Their path to scale is clearly defined and benefits from increasing consumer appreciation for delicious and sustainable coffee.”

Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan added: “My goal as CEO has been to secure a sustainable future for Blue Bottle Coffee that would enable it to flourish for many years to come.

“I’m excited to work with Nestlé to take a long-term approach to becoming a global leader in speciality coffee.

We felt a real kinship with the team and knew it was the right move for us.”

The current management however, will remain in control of the minority stake left to run the business.

Bryan Meehan will remain CEO and James Freeman as Chief Product Officer.

If performance criteria is met according to Nestlé, the consider options to buy the remaining stake in Blue Bottle.