Like most things in Japan, the country’s take on coffee culture is an exquisite display of precision, beauty and craft. Rather than be intimidated, the Californian purveyor Blue Bottle Coffee opened a café in Kyoto this month, its eighth outpost in Japan and the first outside of Tokyo. Situated in a historic 100-year-old building, just mere paces from the 13th-century Nanzen-ji temple and garden, the café provides a spot of tranquility and peace at the end of an unassuming alleyway.
Fronted by a spacious courtyard at the end of a passage, a building type that is known locally as kyomachiya (or an ‘eel’s nest’ because of its narrow opening), Blue Bottle’s new presence is an elegant fusion of the building’s past and the brand’s modern culture. Save for a few glimpses of the company’s logo, the café’s mostly-wood interior stoically keeps in line with the building’s ethos. Exposed patches in the building’s walls and the preservation of intricately carved beams and wooden pillars all pay tribute to the structure’s heritage.
‘Our subtle modifications to the building marry the tranquility of traditional Japanese architecture with modern comforts,’ says Schemata Architects’ Jo Nagasaka, who lead the design of the space. ‘The entryway and the floor were rebuilt lower in the ground, enabling people wearing shoes to enter the café seamlessly. Outside, spreading paths of terrazzo mixed with crushed white gravel echo the neighborhood aesthetics of old Kyoto.’
In such serene environs, Blue Bottle fans will be able to enjoy not just the label’s signature offerings of coffee, espresso, cold brew and New Orleans-style iced coffee, there will also be a selection of seasonal pastries, like green tea mint cookies, exclusively available at the Kyoto café.
For more information, visit the Blue Bottle Coffee website (opens in new tab)
Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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