A Moomin Cafe: So Much Better Than Cats

05.07

moomintroll_cafe_3

With the recent—and unexplainable—trend of “cat cafés” there seems to be a rise in these concept-driven (value-added?) ways to get people into a shop to sip coffee. While I think a cat café sounds like an incredibly awful and hair-filled experience, I would happily sit at a table with a large stuffed Moomin and enjoy a delicious cup—something that you can actually do in Japan.

If you haven’t heard of the Moomins, they are a family of hippo-esque creatures who live in Mumindalen and go on great adventures. They are the central characters in a collection of books, comics and cartoons from the Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator, Tove Jansson—and they are simply fantastic.

Moomin_kuva

The Moomin Bakery and Café is located at Tokyo Dome City, an entertainment complex in the Bunkyo neighborhood. The bakery offers Finnish-style bread and lots of other food shaped like Moomin Characters to create a Finland themed café in the heart of Japan. While I can’t speak to the coffee quality, but does it really matter when you’re sharing a table with a giant Moomintroll?

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Moomin Bakery & Cafe Tokyo Dome City
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 1-1-1 Tokyo Dome City LaQua 1F
T. 03-5842-6300

moomintroll_cafe

moomintroll_cafe_2

[photos via Business Insider]

posted by on 05.07.2014, under Misc.

Irukaya Coffee Shop: A Principled Sanctuary

12.03

CNN Travel recently published a story about a unique (and surely controversial) coffee bar in Japan that is either too new or too elusive to have made Oliver Stand’s Tokyo list. Irukaya Coffee Shop (Google translated to Dolphin?) is a windowless, 4 seat, reservation only shop run by Hiroshi Kiyota.

The shop maintains a strict set of rules on its Japanese Excite blog that include:

- Please refrain from lingering on one order—order again within 1 hour.
- No groups larger than 2 people
- No pictures
- No Smoking
- No mobile phones
- No take-away
- No children
- Reservation only during open hours
- Rule breakers are asked to leave 

The article details the writer, Nicholas Coldicott‘s  visits to Irukaya, including Kitoya’s humble demeanor, the competition-worthy signature beverages on the menu and the extensive list of rare whiskeys that can only be ordered alongside coffee.

Finally, he poured the brew into two cups, alternating so each shared the top, middle and tail of the coffee. He tasted one cup, then served me the other. “Yubisaki,” he said. “Drink it as you would a whisky. It should take around 20 minutes … On paper, the rules look forbidding, but the longer you spend in Irukaya, the more they make sense. It’s not a place you go for a caffeine fix. It’s a sanctuary that happens to serve java. Most of the rules are in place to keep things tranquil. – CNN Travel

While this is sure to ruffle some feathers as being pretentious and off-putting, it sounds like an incredible experience. Where Penny University meets the Soup Nazi, wrapped in Japanese tranquility—sign me up.

Read the full article on CNN Travel

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Irukaya
5-7-39 Inokashira
Mitaka-shi
+81 (0) 90 3042 4145
open 2 p.m.-midnight, closed Wednesday

Photos: Julen Esteban-Pretel for CNN

posted by on 12.03.2012, under Coffee Touring

Fab Café Offers Lattes & Laser Cutting

03.16

A new café opened last week in Shibuya, Japan that offers a service you aren’t likely to find in many other coffee shops—laser cutting. The concept of Fab Café (meaning both fabulous and fabrication) is one of the more unique combinations of “coffee and” that I’ve seen, but makes total sense when you consider the creative clientele, like designers and architects, who want access to a laser cutter are highly likely to drink coffee.

You can reserve the VLS660 for $60 per 30 minutes, upload your vector files and start slicing your designs in wood, acrylic, and felt like a Jedi wielding a light saber. While waiting you can try their signature “Marshmallow Latte” and enjoy the bright and open space designed by Naruse-Inokuma.

The café is owned by a digital media production studio called LoftWork, who wanted to create a hub for designers who they could collaborate with in the future. By offering ample power outlets, free wifi and a laser cutter, the café slash co-working space is sure to be a popular place no matter what the coffee tastes like.

FabCafé

[via Spoon & Tamango]

posted by on 03.16.2012, under Misc.

Kengo Kuma X Starbucks

03.06

When your coffee company’s market value is $27 Billion, you can afford to hire world renown architects to design your cafés. In 2008, Starbucks worked with Japanese-born Kengo Kuma & Associates to build a new location near Dazaifu Tenman-gū, a major Shinto shrine first built in 905. Kuma’s goal to reinterpret traditional Japanese architecture for the 21st century is apparent throughout his work, which takes a macro look at woven sticks of wood to create a dynamic fluidity within the space.

The building is made of 2,000 stick-like parts in the sizes of 1.3m – 4m length and 6cm section. Total length of the sticks reached as far as 4.4km. We had experimented the weaving of sticks for the project of Chidori and GC Prostho Museum Research Center, and this time we tried the diagonal weaving in order to bring in a sense of direction and fluidity. Three sticks are joined at one point in Chidori and GC, while in Starbucks four steps come to one point because of the diagonal—a more complicated joint. –ArchDaily

This really is an incredible looking shop—now if only it served better coffee.

[via ArchDaily]

Photos by Masao Nishikawa

posted by on 03.06.2012, under Design, Misc.

Yoshi’s Blend Brings Hope to Japan

02.06

 

This incredible mini-documentary tells the heartwarming story of Professor Yoshi Masuda and his effort to bring coffee and community to the tsunami and earthquake stricken areas of east Japan. Yoshi wanted to help his country by offering what he knows and loves—coffee. He felt the best way he could help was to bring a sense of normalcy to those recovering from the devastation with the fragrance and aroma of coffee.

Armed with a Chemex, hand grinder, portable stove and his record player, Yoshi set out in a bright orange VW bus to open “Hope Café” wherever he found people in need of a spiritual and physical boost. Along the way, Yoshi also donates coffee starter kits to help establish community coffee shops after he’s left. Inspiring and humbling. Take eight minutes and watch this—you won’t regret it.

When you consider that human sound is also a wave and it could have impact as strong as tsunami that change a life of people. As you say something and that really changes people—the way how they live, the way how they regard their life as it is. Our human voice is, I would say, stronger than tsunami. –Yoshi Masuda

Directed, filmed and edited by Mackenzie Sheppard

posted by on 02.06.2012, under Misc., Videos

Oliver Strand does Japan

12.18

Oliver Strand published a great new article on Ristretto, his column for the New York Times, about his recent travels to Japan. Strand shares a bit about the history of Japanese coffee shops, called kissaten, and reveals where you can experience the next generation of coffee on your next trip to Tokyo—map included.

When I tell people that I went to Tokyo to check out the coffee, I get two reactions. One is bewilderment — as if I went to Denver for the surfing. The other is fascination: those who pay attention to coffee know that Japan is the world’s third-largest importer (after the United States and Germany), with obsessive buyers who regularly land the winning bids at Cup of Excellence auctions, and that it produces the coffee gear everybody wants. –Oliver Strand

Full article and interactive map at New York Times.

[ Photo: Oliver Strand]

posted by on 12.18.2011, under Coffee Touring

A Wooden Coffee Mug

06.10

Just incase you were looking for the perfect mug to match your wooden espresso machine, Japanese designer Oji Masanori has created the Kami mug.

Kami means paper, and the Kami mug is hand crafted in a workshop in Hokkaido Japan by Hidetoshi Takahashi. The cup is made from Castor Aralia wood, shaped using a potter’s wheel and coated with a food safe resin. It is very pleasant to drink from.

This mug is absolutely beautiful. The designer has taken such a simple but iconic shape and combined it with a material almost completely foreign to such an everyday object. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a mug so much as I want this one. However, with a price of $75, I think I’ll be sticking with ceramic for the time being.

Buy them at Mjölk.

[via CMYBacon]

posted by on 06.10.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

A Poetic & Existential Mug

01.18

This ceramic mug, designed by Japanese artist Yukihiro Kaneuchi, is a poetic look at the stories given to products as they are used over time. A tiny landscape has been created on the inside lip that mimics the stains left by coffee. The purpose of the mug and the effects of its use blend into a story representing the memories and feelings of the product. Anyone have a coffee haiku they’d like to share?

click image above for larger view

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posted by on 01.18.2011, under Design, Products