Blue Monday

A lovely espresso, made with the house-blend at Blue Monday in Kanazawa and served in a glass, on a patterned glass saucer.I was in luck during my time in Kanazawa, where I stayed for three days, part of the week I spent travelling around Japan at the end of August this year. I’d gone on the recommendation of my friend Christopher, but this was more with a view to being a tourist. The fact that I found so much great coffee, most of it within a few minutes of my hotel, was a bonus.

Blue Monday was the exception, since it’s not near my hotel. Instead, it’s close to Kanazawa station, making it a perfect introduction to the city (and a good last call before catching your train). Located in the Porte basement shopping complex under the Hotel Nikko, it offers espresso-based drinks, using a bespoke house-blend, plus herbal tea, hot dogs, toast, soft-serve ice cream and mini-doughnuts. If you want to stay, there’s no seating, but there are proper cups.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Blue Monday, an espresso stand in a basement in Kanazawa.
  • This is the view if you're coming from the station...
  • ... and this is the view coming the other way. And that's about it.
  • There is a separate window at this side, but I suspect it's only for the morning rush.
  • There are plenty of handy signs, though, full of useful information.
  • More signs, more information.
  • For example, here are the opening hours...
  • ... while the calender shows which days Blue Monday is open during the month.
  • Meanwhile, this explains specilaity coffee (I think).
  • Back to the front of Blue Monday. For somewhere so small, it does a surprising amount.
  • There's food, for example, albeit limited to hot dogs or toast.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, there's also soft serve ice cream...
  • ... from this machine at the back.
  • There's also a range of tea, plus a pair of non-dairy alternativs (soy and almond).
  • There's even Wifi! Now that's impressive!
  • There's no seating though. If you are hanging around, you just stand at the counter.
  • You order at the till on the left (where you'll also find doughnuts!).
  • There's a convenient menu...
  • ... and another with the English more prominently displayed.
  • The business end of Blue Monday is the Synesso espresso machine in the middle of...
  • ... the counter. You get a good view of it in action from the window at the side.
  • I visited twice. The first was for a quick espresso before catching a train...
  • ... with my espresso served in a gorgeous glass.
  • I was back the following day for a cappuccino before heading down to Kyoto.
  • Nice latte art, by the way...
  • ... which lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup.
  • I'll leave you with some help in finding Blue Monday. It's in the basement under this tower.
  • The basement is accessed via this open courtyard at the bottom of a wide flight of steps.
  • There's a similar flight of steps on the other side, by the main road...
  • ... which lead down to this side of the courtyard.
  • We want the entrance just to the left of the other flight of steps.
  • Here it is.
  • It leads into the Porte shopping centre. We're in level B1 (ie the basement).
  • Just follow the long corridor (you don't really have an option)...
  • ... and there's Blue Monday on the left!
  • Alternatively, if you're coming from Kanazawa station, use the main entrance...
  • ... then head down this massive staircase...
  • ... and into this sort of underground city.
  • The view back up to the main entrance of Kanazawa Station.
  • Then just head straight on, where these broad underground corridors lead you...
  • ... back to the courtyard, which is at the end on the right.
  • And here we are, back in the courtyard. I think you know your way from here.
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I’m indebted to Sol, of Curio Espresso, who alerted me to the presence of Blue Monday. Without his help, I never would have known of its existence, let alone found it. Just east of Kanazawa station, it’s in Porta shopping centre in the basement under the Hotel Nikko. Unless you know it’s there, you’re very unlikely to stumble upon it.

Blue Monday is essentially a kiosk, rectangular in shape, about twice as wide as it is deep. You order at the till on the left, where you also pick up your coffee, made on the Synesso espresso machine that takes pride of place in the middle of the counter. If you want to stay, then there’s a small bar to your right, in front of the Synesso, but that’s it. There is also a window on the right-hand end, facing into the Porta centre, which was closed both times I was there, although I suspect it’s really to cater for the morning rush (either a second ordering point, or somewhere to collect your coffee when it’s busy).

Blue Monday, which first opened in 2012, uses a bespoke seasonal espresso blend using beans from Ethiopia, Brazil and Nicaragua, roasted by Hiroyuki Arinobu of Ally Caffe in Kanazawa (who also roasts for Curio Espresso). This is served from a cut-down menu offering espresso, Americano, latte or cappuccino, with the latte and Americano also offered over ice.

Unusually for somewhere so small, there’s a small savoury selection (hot dogs or toast) as well as soft-serve ice cream and mini-doughnuts. I called in twice, once for a quick espresso on my way to catch a train, and again on the following day, when I stayed for longer before catching the wonderfully-named Thunderbird Limited Express service to Kyoto.

My espresso, from the first visit, was a little acidic for me, served in a glass cup and beautifully presented on a frosted glass saucer. The cappuccino I had on my return was very interesting, feeling very dry in the mouth. It’s quite different from what I’m used to and, as such, was an excellent contrast (and a fine cup of coffee in its own right). Impressively, the milk held the latte art all the way to the bottom of the cup.

December 2019: Blue Monday was a runner-up for the 2019 Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.

2-15-1 HONMACHI • KANAZAWA • ISHIKAWA • 920-0853 • JAPAN +81 (0) 90-2091-6702
Monday 08:15 – 19:00 Roaster Ally Caffe (espresso only)
Tuesday 08:15 – 19:00 Seating None
Wednesday CLOSED^ Food Hot Dogs, Toast, Doughnuts, Ice Cream
Thursday 08:15 – 19:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:15 – 19:00 Payment Card + Cash
Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 29th, 30th August 2019
^ Blue Monday is closed every 2nd and 3rd Wednesday of the month. Otherwise its Wednesday hours are 10:00 – 18:00.

For more about my trip to Japan in the summer of 2019, including details of where else I visited in Kanazawa, please see Brian’s Travel Spot.

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