In a little under two years, Blue Bottle Coffee Japan has found itself an integral part of the Tokyo coffee scene. Since opening in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, they’ve done a charming job of blending Third Wave sensibility with kissaten style—the interiors are clean, modern, and comfortable, along with a clear respect for the art of the brew.
Blue Bottle’s expansion through Tokyo has also been interesting to watch; after embedding themselves in the neighborhood of Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, they’ve since spread to a diverse number of locations: the trendy backstreets of Aoyama, the ever-crowded ground floor of the Shinjuku NEWoMan department store, the quiet side of Nakameguro, and more recently Roppongi and Shinagawa.
The choice of location is intriguing—particularly the two most recent locations—because it shows Third Wave coffee making inroads into areas long thought of as coffee deserts; coffee is of course available, but it’s usually chain stores and the occasional kissaten.
For this reason, the Roppongi store feels a little like a hidden treasure. Roppongi has never been a place to go for coffee (and truth be told, it still isn’t), so the Blue Bottle here is a charming surprise.
And the location is deceptive; it’s no more than a five-minute walk from The National Art Center and Tokyo Midtown, and just a little further to the nightlife hot spot of Roppongi Crossing.
But while the Shinjuku and Kiyosumi-Shirakawa stores are so busy they sometimes feel like conveyer belts for the specialty coffee experience, Blue Bottle Roppongi—at least for the moment—feels like a relaxed coffee oasis. Mornings here are a mix of easy-going tunes, seasonal flowers, and a view of lush greenery.
I like this move of Blue Bottle’s to spread coffee shops through the quiet pockets of Tokyo neighborhoods; these are the places that endear themselves to the locals and turn themselves into regular hangout spots. Never too crazy, never too busy, but always there when you need them.
Blue Bottle Roppongi feels like it understands the Japanese expression of “the third space,” that nebulous location that sits between home and work, and acts as a go-between—a place that exists in transition.
But perhaps that’s just for the time being, while it still exists quietly under the radar, away from the crowds
So before the rest of Toyko discovers this little safe haven and turns it into a trendy hangout spot, might I suggest taking a book and some free time with you to Blue Bottle Roppongi, and just sitting a while with a cup of coffee?