WORLD TRIP 2010
The second stop on our world trip is Japan. Another fascinating place, coffee-wise and other-wise.
Japan is renowned for importing fantastic coffee. It’s the largest importer of Blue Mountain, by reputation one of the best coffees in the world, and it snatches up loads of renowned kopi luwak too (more on this intriguing coffee in a forthcoming post from Bali).
So where does all this great coffee go?! Even in the great sprawling heart of the country (Tokyo), it’s a challenge to find a handful of places serving really good brews. It seems the iconic vending machine still rules supreme, and good coffee makes as brief an appearance as the equally iconic cherry blossom.
I’m sure there’s more to it than that, and in any event there’s so much more to Japan (or anywhere) than coffee shops (ain’t that the truth). And if you want a characterful place to while away the hours, Tokyo has everything you never imagined, from cat cafes (with cats) to maid cafes (with maids) to manga cafes (with manga comics), and a million more quirks and wonders around every corner.
But if you fancy a good cup of coffee in Tokyo, Double Tall, just a few minutes’ walk from Shibuya station, makes for a fine choice. It’s a convivial place, hosting businessman at lunch and shoppers taking a break. As it’s away from the bustle of Shibuya, it’s quiet enough to sit, relax and watch the world go by.
My coffee (a latte) was beautifully presented, with flowery latte art. And it was very nice. The written menu will be incomprehensible to most (certainly it was to me), but one handy quirk of Japanese is that many Western terms have been adopted without significant changes to pronounciation.
For example, ask for “hot coffee”, “coffee latte”, “hot chocolate”, “cappuccino” and, with any luck, you’ll be understood. If all else fails, find a photo and point. The wonderfully friendly Japanese won’t mind a jot.
I believe the beans come all the way from Seattle, from a roastery called Caffe D’arte.
Double Tall is one of a small but increasing band of quality coffee shops in Tokyo. In 2008 a barista from Double Tall won Japan’s first ever latte art contest, a fact that bodes well both for Double Tall and for those in search for something different to vending machine fare.
Article about 2008 Japan latte art contest (English): http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080706a3.html
We visited on 1 April 2010.