Blue Bottle Coffee, Nakameguro

My single-origin pour-over served in a beautiful glass cup at Blue Bottle Coffee in Nakameguro.It’s weird, given how few of Blue Bottle’s US outlets meet my “places where I like to have coffee” criteria, that I’ve adored all three Blue Bottle locations that I’ve visited in Tokyo. Today is the turn of Blue Bottle’s Nakameguro coffee shop, which I first visited during last summer’s trip. It occupies a tall, narrow building, all concrete and glass, that was purpose-built as a factory. The coffee shop is at the front on the ground floor, with additional seating in a basement-like space to the rear, above which is a training area/lab. The top two floors, meanwhile, are Blue Bottle’s offices.

The offering’s very similar to the other Tokyo Blue Bottles that I’ve visited, with reduced food options compared to the Aoyama coffee shop. The usual espresso-based menu has the current seasonal blend plus a single-origin, with options including macchiato, Gibraltar, cappuccino and latte, along with cold-brew and iced coffee. This is allied with a strong pour-over offering, with six Blue Bottle drippers lined up on the counter-front, each standing on in-built scales. There’s a choice of a dedicated pour-over blend, plus a daily single-origin (different from the espresso). If you’re hungry, there’s cake, waffles and a panini.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery. All photos from July 2018, unless otherwise stated.

  • Blue Bottle Coffee in Nakameguro, occupying what was once a factory.
  • The door on the right-hand side blends in well with the windows! This is from July 2018...
  • ... but it looked remarkably similar when I returned yesterday afternoon.
  • The view from just inside the door.
  • As you would expect from the windows, the ceilings are marvellously high in here.
  • It's also marvellously uncluttered. There's just this four-person table in the middle...
  • ... whcih you can see more clearly here, along with the bench against the left-hand wall.
  • Another view of the central table from the other side of Blue Bottle.
  • There are also a pair of two-person tables in the window (and a row of stools outside).
  • One of the two-person tables in more detail. These are the only tables with chairs!
  • A view of the counter from the far side.
  • Above and behind the counter is a lab/training room, seen here through the window.
  • A closer view of the lab/training room. Very envious of the Kees van der Westen up there!
  • However, there's more. Head down the left-hand side of the counter...
  • ... and you'll reach a small seating area at the back, which overlooks...
  • ... a large, cube-shaped, basement-like space. The lab is the metal part at the top.
  • There's a lot more seating down here, as long as you don't mind sharing.
  • In the centre are two six-person communal tables.
  • The view from the far side, looking back towards the stairs...
  • ... and here, looking the other way.
  • The two trees add a nice green touch to the concrete space. It also shows how bright it is.
  • I've spent quite a while on these tables...
  • ... and while the stools might not look it, they are quite comfortable!
  • There's more seating at the back, with three trestle tables against the wall.
  • A rare shot from my visit yesterday, showing that little has changed.
  • If you want to plug in your laptop, you'll find that this is the only place...
  • ... that has any power outlets!
  • The final seating is in the shape of two short benches, one against the left-hand wall...
  • ... and the other to the right.
  • Time to go back upstairs.
  • The retail shelves on the wall to the right of the door look like they're straight from Ikea!
  • There's lterature and merchandising...
  • ... along with the usual collection of coffee and coffee-making equipment.
  • This being Blue Bottle, the Blue Bottle drippers are out in force...
  • ... along with the usual selection of retail bags of beans. This was from July 2018...
  • ... while this was some of the selection from yesterday.
  • The house espresso blend, Hayes Valley, for example...
  • ... and the current single-origin espresso, from Peru.
  • To business. You order at the counter at the back, which is very logically laid out.
  • You start at the right-hand end, where you'll find the till and menus.
  • Next comes the row of six Blue Bottle drippers...
  • ... and finally, at the far end...
  • ...  there's the La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine, where you collect your coffee.
  • To start at the beginning.
  • The selection of cakes and other goodies is small, but tempting.
  • There's a comprehensive menu, with one side in English, the other in Japanese.
  • Meanwhile, this was the coffee selection when I was there in 2018.
  • There's also a drinks menu on the wall above/to the right of the counter.
  • From my very first visit in July 2018: the Burundi single-origin espresso in a glass.
  • I had this tasty vegetarian panini for lunch, sadly no longer on the menu.
  • I returned a couple of weeks later to try the pour-over...
  • ... a Colombian single-origin in a gorgeous glass cup, which grew on me as it cooled.
  • When I returned yesterday , I tried the Hayes Valley espresso blend...
  • ... which came in a very cute cup on a rather strange saucer.
  • I paired that with a Liege Waffle for lunch.
  • I'll leave you with Yoshi, my barista last year, who bought a copy of my book!
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Blue Bottle Coffee in Nakameguro is the fifth in Tokyo, opening in 2016 (there are now 14 locations!). On the south side of the main east-west road through Meguro City, it has the same austere/stripped back aesthetic of the Blue Bottle in Aoyama, but more minimalist in look-and-feel, the well-spaced seating resulting in an abundance of space. The front of the store, which is about as wide as it is tall, is all glass, with multiple, large, rectangular metal-framed panes. The door, the equivalent of two vertically-stacked panes, blends in well on the right-hand side.

The floor-plan of the front section is roughly square. Although quite large, there are just three tables: two two-person ones in the window, and a taller, four-person table in the middle, with the counter running almost the full width at the back. A set of retail shelves/cupboards is built against the right-hand wall, while to the left, there’s a short bench against the wall.

It looks like there used to be a back wall which has been taken down, just leaving two pillars, the back of the counter stretching from one to the other. A small gap to the left leads back past the counter to a small, almost cube-shaped space, with more retail shelves at the back, a large, rectangular table/counter to the left and a short bench to the right.

However, there’s more. An open flight of 10 steps by the bench leads to a large, spacious basement-like space at the back. Effectively a concrete cube, it’s open at the front, while there’s a mezzanine level in the top half, housing a large, glass-fronted lab/training room. Since there’s no front wall, it’s very bright for a basement, and, like the upstairs, the temptation to cram too much in has been resisted.

Three long trestle tables line the back wall, where you’ll find the only power outlets. The right-hand one is a water station, while the other two each has space for two people on tall, wooden stools. There’s a short two/three-person bench against each of the left- and right-hand walls, while there are two six-person tables in the centre, both with low, broad, comfortable wooden stools, two on either side, one at either end.

It’s a beautiful coffee shop, the light wooden furniture contrasting perfectly with the concrete. Talking with Yoshi, one of the baristas, I was told that the designer, Joe, gave making the shop good to work in equal priority with making it nice for customers. Even the La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine was chosen over the more typical Kees Van Der Westen because it goes better with the space!

I visited twice in July last year, returning again yesterday, where I found little had changed. Indeed, one of the few differences was the tasty vegetarian panini that I had for lunch on my visit, now, sadly, no longer on the menu.

On my first visit I had the single-origin espresso, a Burundi, which was served in a glass. Quite sweet, but not at all acidic, it was excellent, continuing a run of excellent Blue Bottle espressos that I’ve had in Tokyo. It was so smooth, in fact, that I’d pretty much finished it before I thought to make any notes! On my second visit, I had a Colombian single-origin pour-over, served in a beautiful glass cup. I wasn’t a fan at first, but like quite a few Colombian pour-overs, it grew on me as it cooled, developing more body and a smoother flavour.

When I returned yesterday, I tried the Hayes Valley blend as an espresso, having already had it in a Gibraltar earlier in the week at Blue Bottle in Aoyama, where I also enjoyed the current single-origin, the Peru Sandia Valley, both in milk (good) and as an espresso (excellent). While I’d really enjoyed the Hayes Valley in milk, I was less of a fan on its own, since it’s a fairly classical blend, strong, with a touch of bitterness.

Once again, I was there for lunch, deciding on the Liege Waffle, the most savoury item on the menu (excluding the pork and cheese panini). It was really good, not exactly savoury, but not too sweet either, the perfect partner for my espresso.

3-23-16 NAKAMEGURO • MEGURO CITY • TOKYO • 153-0061 • JAPAN +81 (0) 3-5725-0218
Monday 08:00 – 19:00 Roaster Blue Bottle (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Bench, Stools (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 19:00 Food Cake, Granola, Waffles, Panini
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Counter (Order at Counter for food)
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 19:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 19:00 Power Limited (basement)
Chain International Visits 14th, 25th July 2018, 8th September 2019

If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Tokyo’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Tokyo.

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2 thoughts on “Blue Bottle Coffee, Nakameguro

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