For serious coffee lovers, the ritual surrounding the brew is as important as drinking the elixir itself.
Blue Bottle Studio Kyoto, which opened in March a few minutes’ walk from the city’s municipal zoo, elevates this notion to new heights with precisely crafted 90-minute tasting sessions. The studio operates only in spring and autumn — Kyoto’s peak travel seasons — but the intimate, minimalist space inside Blue Bottle Kyoto Cafe Hanare, an annex to the Blue Bottle Kyoto Cafe, feels a world away from the teeming crowds outside.
When I arrive for my 10 a.m. reservation on a recent autumn morning, there’s already a line snaking outside of the cafe, which is housed in a refurbished machiya (traditional townhouse) directly in front of the studio. Dressed in a beige linen uniform, barista Riko Wakahoi leads me upstairs through an indigo noren curtain adorned with the company’s distinctive bottle logo. Architect Jo Nagasaka’s design of the interior combines wood and tatami mats with earthen walls to create a serene and elegant atmosphere. Exposed sections reveal strands of straw, an integral part of the traditional tsuchikabe (wattle and daub) technique used to construct the walls.