Whether by accident of fate or surfeit of real estate, Tokyo's Kiyosumi-Shirakawa neighborhood is turning into one of the most caffeinated corners of the capital. Already home to artisan roasters, including The Cream of the Crop and Arise Coffee, this district of galleries, parks and low-rise housing is about to welcome a new arrival.

On the upper floor of a converted printing factory, a group of trainee baristas huddles around a table to recap what they've been studying for the afternoon. Their teacher is Michael Phillips, a former World Barista champ who's flown over to Japan to spend a month prepping staff for the opening of Tokyo's own Blue Bottle Coffee roastery.

Downstairs, there's a bar counter festooned with premium-grade coffee clobber, including a futuristic Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine that might as well have been beamed down, "Star Trek"-style, from the U.S.S. Enterprise. To the rear of the room, a forklift truck sits alongside tubs of green coffee beans, awaiting their turn in a monstrous Loring roaster that can roast 35 kg at a time.