food

Coffee chain Blue Bottle brews long lines in Tokyo

34 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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34 Comments
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...long lines that have at times meant a four-hour wait for a cup

I major element of the whole luxury coffee shop experience is to relax and unwind in the process of leisurely enjoying premium coffee. Waiting countless hours in these ridiculously long lines clearly defeats the whole purpose of that experience.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Well, I guess the coffee must be better than charbucks...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Always nice to have more options for good coffee (that is, not Starbucks)

I like Hoshino Coffee, personally.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Put a cup of that stuff next to a cup of instant coffee and do a blind taste test. I dare you to be able to tell the difference.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The company ... hopes its early popularity is more than a passing fad.

It will be a passing fad. No doubt. Just the latest in long line of foreign branch fads.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Put a cup of that stuff next to a cup of instant coffee and do a blind taste test. I dare you to be able to tell the difference.

You can't tell the difference between INSTANT coffee and decent brewed coffee? Really?

If you had said cheaper Doutor, sure, maybe. But instant coffee is just bad, bad. Doesn't taste like regular coffee at all.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Good news: They are competition for Starsucks. Bad news: They are just as dull as Starsucks.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Added bonus: a facial hair from one of the artisanal brewers in every cup.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you swirl some instant coffee in cold water first, then pour in the hot water, you will not be able to tell the difference between that coffee and something the baristas would have you think is something sacred.

And as someone else commented, to wait in line for this stuff defeats the purpose of going to a cafe - to be able to sit back, relax, read a book, use the free WiFi and electricity and air con/heat, see people hunched over computers as if their life depended on it, cram for exams, take a nap, listen to the various private English lessons going on around you, then listen to the adjacent tables of people start talking about their own English ability, etc.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If you swirl some instant coffee in cold water first, then pour in the hot water, you will not be able to tell the difference between that coffee and something the baristas would have you think is something sacred.

I actually did this challenge with starbucks coffee back about 20 years ago. My roommate told me I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between starbucks and instant coffee. We bet $20. I won no problem.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I dare you to be able to tell the difference.

Try it yourself. If YOU can't tell the difference (which doesn't mean that other people can't), you're just as good with instant coffee...BTW, did you knew that instant coffee is usually made out of the worst selection of beans (that couldn't be even sold roasted and milled) ?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If you swirl some instant coffee in cold water first, then pour in the hot water, you will not be able to tell the difference between that coffee and something the baristas would have you think is something sacred.

Absolutely no way. Maybe won't tell the difference between bad beans and instant but not with decent beans/drip. No chance.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Strangerland - maybe your palate is sophisticated, or luck was on your side with a 50/50 chance. I dare you to taste test three instant coffee brands (using the aforementioned method for brewing) and a cup of whatever would be considered the finest brew available near. If you can pick out the barista's sacred creation, I will anoint you to be the next Dalai Lama.

ebisen - hot dogs are made of what would have been discarded meat parts. Does that make them any less tasty? In fact, one time maybe 15 or 20 years, Starbucks was found by inspectors to be using "inferior" beans, but it seemed customers couldn't really tell.

Basically, the marketing people at Starbucks or Blue Bottle would have you believe that what you're getting is a superior product simply because they slap their name on it or some overly serious barista is slow pouring the water in as if it was heart surgery.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

maybe your palate is sophisticated, or luck was on your side with a 50/50 chance.

I wouldn't say my palate was particularly sophisticated then, or now. But I can tell the difference between instant coffee and brewed coffee 10 times out of 10. My wife drinks instant coffee, and occasionally I'll grab her mug instead of mine. I know it right away.

Basically, the marketing people at Starbucks or Blue Bottle would have you believe that what you're getting is a superior product

I don't know about Blue Bottle. And I agree that Starbucks is not a superior products - I suspect they overcook the beans in order to mask a lower quality bean. But that doesn't change the fact that a cup of Starbucks is infinitely better than instant coffee.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I wish I had a unsophisticated palate--would save me heaps on coffee and beer and wine and dining out and women...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wish I had a unsophisticated palate--would save me heaps on coffee and beer and wine and dining out and women...

My unsophisticated palate has saved me so much money in wine over the years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

While I am not a fan of Starbucks, I am a fan of what tastes good. I don't require a brand to reinforce what tastes good to me. That being said, the proposal that by some magic brewing technique that instant coffee can taste as good as non-instant coffee is preposterous. To state otherwise is just trolling the coffee aficionados. And those with common sense.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Blue Bottle is also benefiting from the image problems in Japan of fast food chains and highly processed foods.

To me, a blue bottle is a large, noisy blowfly, Latin name Calliphora vomitaria. Hardly appetising.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wish them success, but the odds are against them. Heck, the odds are against them in the U.S. over the long term as well. But, who knows, maybe they will be the exception and succeed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's always amusing to watch the kind of anger the mere mention of Starbucks brings about from some posters. It's most certainly NOT the best coffee in the world, and is not even very good, but the sort of reaction you guys waste so much time on for something you claim you hate so much... seriously!

As for Blue Bottle, I would like to try a cup some time, but NO WAY I'm waiting in line for even 10 minutes. When I drink coffee, unless it is a hit in the morning after a sleepless night, I like to sit down and relax, read the news, a book, or just chill and listen to good music. Knowing that this many people will line up for four hours for a cup only says one thing: it's not that good, it's just the flavor of the month. Every single person I know who spent hours anticipating and then finally getting something after lining up for hours and paying heaps has always said, "It was so-so", be it a ramen shop featured on TV, the newest Kobe roll-cake, 'gourmet' pokki, nama caramel, sushi, or now this. They line up because they see a line-up, or saw it on TV or heard others are doing it. Not just for a cup of coffee or there is no way they would wait that long (unless it's to try it ONCE, in which case it's still a passing fad). Maybe when the fuss settles a bit.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Reading about their "beans to cup" policy actually had me thinking about what milk they use for the latte, because it will taste different, esp the cold one. I mean, whats the meaning of using good beans and than add cheap milk to it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess I'm a low-budget, unsophisticated coffee drinker. I'm happy with the 100 yen coffee at 7/11. I especially enjoy the buttery aroma as the beans are ground and the coffee freshly brewed.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There was a kissaten called THANKS Coffee just down the road from the university where I studied abroad, and I remember the incredible encounter a friend and I had, talking to the proprietor for almost an hour about his coffee, the history of coffee in general, and dozens of other topics. There's something to be said for that kind of experience.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.341853,134.039574,3a,75y,253.32h,86.53t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sxhlXAfGNeZqBWCEnhG5-2Q!2e0!6m1!1e1

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess I'm a low-budget, unsophisticated coffee drinker. I'm happy with the 100 yen coffee at 7/11. I especially enjoy the buttery aroma as the beans are ground and the coffee freshly brewed.

The coffee at 7-11 (in Japan) is surprisingly good. And it's not instant coffee, each cup is fresh ground beans and freshly brewed.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Blue bottle is British English slang for house fly.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

7-11 coffee is among the best one can find under 400 yen. Granted, you usually don't get a seat and a china cup but have to drink it on the go from a paper cup. That does not make it much worse... I have seen somewhere a Japanese study of how 7-11 is actually making no money at this price (100 yen/cup), but are hoping to increase the sales by luring people inside the shops (one rarely buys only coffee in the morning, I do though :) ).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

7-11 coffee is pretty good coffee. I prefer it over Starbucks burnt beans any day.

I haven't tried Blue Bottle coffee but I hope it lives up to the hype.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My wife lined up for Bluebottle on one of her days off. Waited a couple of hours, and then disappointingly said "oh, its not bad"

Instant coffee to brewed coffee is a no brainer. I have never had instant coffee that tastes even close, unless its milked and sugared to the point of being nothing more than a coffee flavored milk beverage. In the time before 7-11's fresh coffee options i went through about 8 or 9 brands of instant coffee trying to find one that tasted like actual coffee.. Without success

I think if you put a 7-11 coffee against a Starbucks Coffee against a Bluebottle coffee (all black, no sugar), you would have a much more interesting result. I bet it would be fairly evenly spread as each person's individual preferences chose one or the other

2 ( +2 / -0 )

afanofjapan - 2 hours!? I'm speechless.

The only coffee that I wouldn't serve to my dog (if I had one) is Mister Donuts'. And they offer free refills - one of the few times I turned down anything free.

For instant coffee, buy the Nestle Excella, swirl a heaping teaspoon in a bit of cold water, then pour in a cup and a half of hot water. And the best thing - add more water if you want it lighter, more coffee grounds if you want it stronger.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wouldn't even queue 2 hours for a beer if I was dying of thirst. This fad-loving queue thing is really just sad.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This fad-loving queue thing is really just sad.

Why?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

sensei and Strangerland: "The coffee at 7-11 (in Japan) is surprisingly good. And it's not instant coffee, each cup is fresh ground beans and freshly brewed"

Agree with you guys (Lawson's adopted brand is not that bad, either)

afanofjapan: "My wife lined up for Bluebottle on one of her days off. Waited a couple of hours, and then disappointingly said "oh, its not bad"

BINGO! Exactly what I talked about. And will you guys go there and wait again? probably not. It's not about the coffee.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Word! 7-11's Ice Coffee is pretty friggin' good. My only complaint is that the machine doesn't dispense just enough, giving you a little too much room @ the top of the cup. In that case, they should offer "add" shots.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too bad I don't buy overpriced drinks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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