Kyoto’s first Blue Bottle Coffee shop is an architectural zen retreat
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.
Outside blends seamlessly with in, at Blue Bottle Coffee’s first Kyoto outpost
‘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.