Maruyama Coffee, Nagano Station

A syphon at Maruyama Coffee in Nagano Station, warming on the infrared heater after brewing.My first ever speciality coffee experience in Japan was at Maruyama Coffee in Nishi Azabu, conveniently located across the road from my hotel. Ever since then, I’ve had a soft spot for Maruyama Coffee, a high-end chain which has its origins in Nagano Prefecture. It was therefore fitting that when my friend and local guide, Christopher, took me on a coffee tour of Nagano, our first stop was Maruyama Coffee, which has a lovely coffee shop in the Midori shopping mall at Nagano Station. I also made a point of calling in on my return to Nagano on this trip.

Maruyama is a blend of traditional Japanese hospitality (table service, attentive staff, baskets to put your things in so that they don’t have to rest on the floor) and speciality coffee. In the former aspect, it’s very unlike western coffee shops; in its latter aspect, third-wave aficionados will instantly feel at home. As an added bonus, the Nagano Station location specialises in syphon coffee, which is prepared on the counter-top for all to see. Other than that, you get the usual Maruyama offering, with a bewildering choice of origins and blends through cafetiere and espresso, plus a small food menu.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery (all photos from my 2018 visit unless noted).

  • Heading towards the northern exit of Nagano station on my most recent visit.
  • But wait! What's that up there on the right!
  • It's Maruyama Coffee! But how to get up there?
  • For that, you need the stairs or escalators on the left-hand side.
  • We're heading for the third floor (bearing in mind that the station is on the second floor).
  • Turn right at the top of the stairs and head across the walkway...
  • ... and there it is on the right, Maruyama Coffee.
  • This is the view head on.
  • There's a retail section at the front, then the coffee shop is behind that.
  • In case you forgot where you are!
  • There's a standalone table across the front of Maruyama, holding samples for you to try.
  • There are also retail bags of coffee, equipment and merchandising (seen here from behind).
  • However, the majority of the retail bags are on these shelves on the left-hand wall.
  • After the retail section, the coffee shop proper starts with the counter on the right...
  • ... while on the left, there's a row of six tables against the wall...
  • ... although on my recent visit, they had all been rotated by 45°.
  • There's more seating at the back, with a four-person round table on the right...
  • ... another on the left, and then a row of five two-person tables against the back wall.
  • Not a great angle, but you can see all the tables at the back (from my recent visit).
  • There are no windows at the back, so it's all borrowed light from the front, plus this rig.
  • However, the real focal point is the counter, especially if you sit across from it.
  • The Nuovo Simonelli espresso machine takes up the front of the counter...
  • ... but the centre of attention is here, in the middle.
  • No, not the models of the cakes, as nice as they look. Behind them!
  • It's the Maruyama syphon bar!
  • Down to business. You get a copy of the menu, a mutli-page affair, covering drinks & food.
  • This is the menu from my most recent viist: these are the single-origin choices...
  • ... for the cafetiere, which spills onto a third page, with the blends on the right.
  • The next two pages are syphon options (left) and espresso/other drinks (right).
  • You also get a copy of the free quarterly newsletter which you can take home with you.
  • This gives more information on Maruyama's various single-origins.
  • On my first visit, Christopher and I decided to order syphons. Here they are being prepped.
  • Each bulb is topped up with hot water...
  • ... and the infrared heaters are turned up.
  • Next, ground coffee is added to the top chamber...
  • ... and the top chamber is placed snuggly on the bulb, ready for brewing.
  • The infrared heater boils the water in the bulb at the bottom...
  • ... which is drawn up into the top chamber, where the ground coffee is.
  • It's a magnificent process to watch!
  • The barista stirs the coffee to ensure that the grounds are thoroughly wetted.
  • Almost done.
  • Once all the water has been drawn into the top chamber, the syphon is removed...
  • ... from the heat and the coffee grounds are given another stir.
  • The coffee is then left to stand for a short while.
  • Meanwhile, the second syphon is almost done...
  • ... then it too is removed from the heat.
  • As the bulb cools, the coffee is drawn back into the lower chamber through a filter...
  • ... leaving the finished (brewed) coffee in the bulb and the coffee grounds in the top.
  • The syphon on the left is now done (brewing, that is) and the other one's not far behind.
  • There's just one step to go. The top chamber is removed...
  • ... and the bulb is returned to the infrared heater to be warmed before serving.
  • Almost ready.
  • Quality control is important at Maruyama, so a small amount from each brew is sampled.
  • As long as the barista is happy with the coffee, it's now ready to serve.
  • The final nice touch is that the syphon is brought to your table to be served.
  • And here it is: my and Christopher's coffee, each served in a single cup.
  • My coffee, a naturally-processed Bolivian. That was on my first visit in 2018...
  • ... while on my recent visit, I had a  naturally-processed Brazilian, served in the cafetiere...
  • ... with the cup on the side, which is where I'll leave you.
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Maruyama Coffee is on the third floor of the Midori shopping mall, itself on the northern side of Nagano station, while the trains arrive/depart on the second floor. Arriving by train, head for the northern exit and look up: you should see Maruyama above you on the right, although access is by escalator/stairs to your left. At the top, turn right, walk along the crosswalk and Maruyama Coffee is on your right.

Maruyama Coffee is split into two, which, from my limited exposure to Maruyama’s coffee shops, seems to be standard practice, with a retail section at the front, coffee shop behind. The retail selection isn’t quite as big as at Nishi Azabu, but it’s still pretty extensive, with a standalone table running across the front of the store and shelves on the wall to the left, where you’ll find retail bags from Maruyama’s extensive range of coffee. The table, meanwhile, has more retail bags, a small selection of coffee kit and merchandising and, best of all, several samples that you can try.

Beyond this, the coffee shop proper starts, with the counter on the right and a row of six square, two-person tables on the left. The counter ends about halfway back, behind which is more seating, starting with a round, four-person table against the right-hand wall. There’s another round, four-person table on the left, beyond the six two-person tables. Finally, a padded bench runs the full width of the back wall with five small, round, two-person tables in front of it. It’s an elegant space, full of dark wood and wall tiles, with the only natural light coming from windows behind the counter and the open front of the store.

Since Maruyama operates a full table service, you only need to go to the counter to pay before you leave. However, in many ways it’s the focal feature of the coffee shop, particularly if you get one of the two-person tables opposite. There’s a large Nuova Simonelli espresso machine at the front of the counter, while the till is at the far end. In between the two, however, is the main attraction, a row of three syphons and their infrared heaters.

You’ll be seated by one of the staff, who’ll also give you a glass of water, a large, multi-page menu and a monthly newsletter which details all the single-origins that Maruyama has in stock. I counted 23 single-origins, spread across nine countries, plus eight blends, all of which are available through the cafetiere. If you want to try the syphon, there’s a more limited range of seven blends/single-origins, while there’s also a single-origin option on espresso.

On my first visit last year, Christopher and I decided to try the syphon coffee, Christopher going with the Birch Blend, which he really liked, while I selected a naturally-processed Bolivian coffee. This turned out to be a very clean cup, which really grew on me as it cooled, its fruity flavours coming to the fore. And, of course, we both enjoyed the spectacle of syphon.

On my return yesterday, I was on my own. I’d tried the samples at the front of the store, where a naturally-processed Brazilian coffee stood out, so I ordered a cafetiere of that, which was served in the cafetiere, a cup on the side. It was another coffee which grew on me as it cooled, the coffee feeling a little thin when warm, but developing nicely as the temperature dropped.

1-22-6 MIDORI • MINAMICHITOSE • NAGANO • 380-0823 • JAPAN
www.maruyamacoffee.com +81 (0) 26-217-6690
Monday 10:00 – 20:00 Roaster Maruyama (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 10:00 – 20:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 10:00 – 20:00 Food Cakes, Sandwiches
Thursday 10:00 – 20:00 Service Table
Friday 10:00 – 20:00 Cards Yes
Saturday 10:00 – 20:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 10:00 – 20:00 Power No
Chain Regional Visits 22nd October 2018, 27th August 2019

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6 thoughts on “Maruyama Coffee, Nagano Station

  1. Pingback: Maruyama Coffee, Nishi Azabu | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Unlike the UK, where governments ordered train companies to sell off surplus land, Japanese stations developed them to retain the profits, given the guaranteed footfall. They therefore have a good income stream and flexibility for future requirements.

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