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 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|
|https://bluebottlecoffee.jp||+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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