Blue Bottle Coffee, the Bay-Area-gone-global coffee brand, is known, at least Stateside, for having a sort of minimalist refinement when it comes to their cafe spaces. It’s all light woods, clean lines, and maybe just a hint of color coming from their blue logo (of a bottle duh). But a trip across the very blue Pacific Ocean over to Japan gives one a lot of time to pontificate on the color, and perhaps it was one of these jaunts that gave owner James Freeman design inspiration for the newest Osaka cafe: to open the bluest Blue Bottle to ever Blue Bottle.
And that’s exactly what happened at the tail end of 2021. As reported by Design Boom, the coffee company teamed up with Tokyo-based design firm Studio I IN to create a completely new and frankly very blue aesthetic for the brand’s Chayamachi District outpost. Per The Cool Hunter, the 3,700-square-foot cafe is divided into two floors. The bottom level is reminiscent of standard Blue Bottle fare: minimalism, light woods, lots of white, but with a little foreshadowing of what’s in store thanks to the blue glass countertops.
Upstairs, though, things go full Blue-d Runner 2049. Washed in a deluge of blue light, the room is meant to “stimulate the visitors’ five senses… Bathing in the images and sounds that ‘fall’ from the ceiling, guests experience a unique ambiance that can change their impression of time,” per Design Boom.
“Images and music, created in collaboration with Panoramatiks, allow customer to fully reset. The bench, made of a special material, functions in a way that only the person who sits can encounter that sensory experience,” adds I IN.
Admittedly the concept is a bit over the top, and while every coffee shop doesn’t need to be this out there, I very much believe the occasional high concept cafe is good to shake us out of the slumber of the everyday routine of getting coffee.
Still, a very blue Blue Bottle is maybe a bit on the nose conceptually and has us wondering if the trend will spread to other coffee brands. Will there be an all-red Red Bay or a thoroughly orangish-pink Coral Sword? What about a checkerboard Black & White? Will there be an Onyx—whose own very pink cafe should not go unmentioned—made entirely of onyx? Chicago’s Purple Llama is pretty purple, sure, but is it purple enough? Yellow Tucan in Paris is not as color-forward as you’d expect, and I haven’t seen one damn pachyderm at any Five Elephant location.
Will 2022 be the year of too-literal cafes? I sure hope so.
All photos by Tomooki Kengaku