Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blue Bottle Coffee in Kiyosumi Shirokawa

Over the weekend John and I finally went out to the new Blue Bottle Coffee in Kiyosumi Shirokawa. Luckily Raku and her husband were able to come with us, and we had a really wonderful day enjoying delicious coffee and some refreshing time in nature.

Blue Bottle is a famous coffee shop that started in San Francisco and has spread to a number of cities in the United States. The couple that started it was inspired by the coffee shop culture in Japan, and excitingly they have recently expanded to Tokyo. We tried to go the weekend they opened in January, but the line was more than two hours long and it was drizzling, so we turned around. This past weekend they opened a second location in central Tokyo, so we thought it might be a good day to try the location further out. We arrived around 12:30, and the wait was still about 30 minutes, but totally worth it. This isn't somewhere to come to just gulp down a caffeine fix, but if you're looking for an entire experience this is it.

The line formed outside in the parking lot, and a security guard let people in in batches which made the line feel like it was progressing quickly. Every time the door opened we could smell a delicious sweet aroma wafting out, making us wonder what treats might accompany our coffee. Once inside the line was still about ten minutes long to place an order. If you're only trying to buy beans you can skip the entire line, just tell the guard you only want beans (mame, pronounced mah-may).

Blue bottle serves both drip coffee and espresso drinks, as well as a selection of cookies, granola, and waffles. Two of us got waffles and two of us ordered molasses ginger cookies, and they were all fantastic. Between the four of us we also ordered a single origin espresso, a macchiato, a gibraltar, and a cappuccino. We all agreed that the straight espresso was really flavorful and good. I like some milk in my drinks, but for what it is I can acknowledge that the quality of the straight espresso was fantastic. The macchiato was really good too, but I thought John's gibraltar was the standout of the bunch. There was enough milk to smooth over the sourness that makes my mouth pucker, but the roast-y bitterness was still pleasantly obvious. My cappuccino was good, but not the best I've ever had in Tokyo, next time I would order the gibraltar, but you probably can't go wrong with anything there.

The store itself is wonderfully open and spacious. In the back they have a warehouse area where they roast and package coffee beans. And in the front of the store there is ample seating. There were even fresh flowers on the counter making our wait in line more pleasant. John and Raku also noticed that the front of the store is a giant garage door that can slide open when the weather warms up.

After our coffee, we went to the park nearby. If you're a longtime reader you might recall this is the park where Yoshimi took her wedding photos. Admission costs 150 yen, but it is SO worth it. The admission fee keeps the park from feeling overcrowded, and the park offers something for everyone. There are koi and ducks swimming in the pond, a tea house and perfectly manicured trees, plum and cherry blossoms at the right time of year, and plenty of green space to catch your breath and forget you're in a city for a few minutes. I highly recommend taking the time to stop by this gorgeous park if you make the trip out for coffee.

Blue Bottle Coffee in Kiyosumi Shirokawa
Somedays it feels like Tokyo is just a collection of lines
Warehouse workers

Coffee Artisans

It's a really gorgeous space
Cappuccino and a waffle - I want to have this for breakfast every Sunday

John's gibraltar and ginger cookie, and equally magnificent breakfast

Kiyosumi Shirokawa Park 
Kiyosumi Shirokawa Park
Blue Bottle Coffee, Kiyosumi Shirokawa
Hours: 8:00-7:00 Monday-Sunday
Address: 1-4-8 Hirano, Koto-ku, Tokyo

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