coffee

【Exploring Unfamilar Japan】We have dessert and meet a cow named Julia at an organic island café

La Cigale is a family-run cafe located in the heart of the largest of the Oki Islands, but it’s much more than a place to get a thoughtful cup of coffee. La Cigale is a hub for the community that supports local events and hosts field trips to teach children about sustainable farming. It’s also a place where neighbor kids gather to help pick vegetables or collect shiitake mushrooms in the nearby mountains. So while we thoroughly enjoyed the coffee parfait we indulged in at La Cigale, we were completely taken with the cafe’s farm-to-table philosophy and the intriguing history of its proprietors.

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Starbucks Geisha coffee is expensive, elegant, has no connection to traditional entertainers

When I walk into Starbucks and order a drink, I accept that I’m paying for more than just a beverage. Embedded in the price are the costs and economic premiums of a central location, comfy couches, and a relaxing atmosphere, and as a consumer, I’m generally satisfied with what I get for my money.

Still, every now and again the chain rolls out some new type of coffee that seems exorbitantly expensive, and this month’s new addition is a doozy, at 1,850 yen (US$18.30) for a single cup! But hold on, it’s called Geisha coffee? Well in that case, it sounds like a bargain! Time with Japan’s traditional entertainers usually isn’t anywhere near that cheap.

Actually, we’ve got some bad news for hardcore Japanophiles, but it’s also good news for coffee lovers. Geisha refers to the type of beans used, which are some of the rarest in the world.

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With autumn nearly here, we skip the beach and head to Starbucks for new caramel beverages

With the calendar now flipped to September, we’ve got to sadly admit that summer is winding down. Japanese society is always in tune with the changing of the seasons, and as autumn starts you’ll see fashionable Tokyoites sporting their fall coats, nature lovers heading for the mountains to appreciate the changing leaves, and Starbucks rolling out seasonal drinks like its new Caramel and Pudding Frappuccino and Shaken Caramel Custard and Espresso.

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Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break

Unless you’ve got the deep pockets to take taxis everywhere or the ample patience necessary for a bus tour, sightseeing in Japan means a lot of walking. As exciting and fascinating as the country can be, hour after hour on your feet is enough to leave anyone looking for a place to sit down and have a drink, which is part of the reasons why you can always find a Starbucks near Japan’s major travel destinations.

Still, vacation only lasts so long, and many tourists don’t want to waste their time in a new city sitting in a boring old coffee house that looks just like the one in their hometown. Thankfully, the world’s most popular coffee house has gone all out with the design of these five Japanese Starbucks locations, making them sightseeing attractions in and of themselves.

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Some words about cafe camping, a bully with a comb-over, and a man in a blue sweater vest

Back when I was still living in the UK, I would have never dreamed of spending an entire afternoon working on my laptop in a cafe. Places like Starbucks or homegrown coffee chain Costa are places to go, pay slightly too much for caffeinated beverages, leaf through a book or newspaper, then be on your way. They’re not for doing your homework or earning a living.

Thanks to the birth of WiFi and ultra-light laptop computers, however, the sight of people commandeering tables for hours on end is no longer such a rarity, and I, it has to be said, am one of them. Which is where I witnessed an unusual little episode involving a grumpy old man with a comb-over, his quiet, sweater vest-wearing friend, and a young woman who may or may not have been a matcha-drinking guardian angel.

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【TBT】Tokyo’s Pico Pico Cafe: Where video games meet coffee

Despite having visited the town of Kichijoji in Tokyo on a near daily basis for over a year, it wasn’t until I sat down with video game developer James Kay and started chatting about our mutual love of pixels and coffee that I learned about Pico Pico Cafe, a cosy corner perched at the top of a eight-storey building just minutes from Kichijoji station.

After dropping the staff a line, RocketNews24 headed over for a coffee and a chat. We hadn’t gone two steps inside, however, before we found ourselves completely enamoured with the unique cafe’s warm, homely interior and – perhaps most of all for this life-long gamer – the subtle dashes of video game culture in every other nook and cranny.

Tons of cool photos after the jump.

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Jojo’s bizarre coffee – Anime characters to grace cans of java in Japan

With their dramatic posing, frenetic accessorizing, and manic shouting, you could easily arrive at the conclusion that the cast of long-running manga and anime Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures is one seriously over-caffeinated set of super powered bare-knuckle brawlers.

Don’t expect Jojo and company to settle down anytime soon, though, as the characters created by artist Hirohiko Araki are set to grace cans of Coca-Cola Japan’s Georgia coffee this summer.

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“Brazilian” coffee cola released in Japan

From the country that brought you carbonated espresso comes a coffee and cola drink claiming to be Brazilian that’s described as a “delicious Carnival.” Wait, what?

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Falafel, beer, and water wheels: Shibuya and Harajuku’s tucked-away treasures 【Hidden Tokyo】

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the bustling, beautiful megalopolis of Tokyo, then the city really is yours – you just have to know where to look. And if you want to get away from the tourist trail and get down close to the beating heart of the capital, a journey into the back streets of the 23 wards is where you’ll wind up.

Come with us as we take you into different neighbourhoods and spend an afternoon exploring some of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets. Today we’ll take you around some of Shibuya’s lesser known backstreets, where you can chow down on falafels, pick up some of the best coffee and soak up a hip, laid-back atmosphere.

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Coffee and cats are the perfect combo to help you face the week【Monday Kickstart】

I’ll have a grande caramel macchiato and your cutest cat, to go. Whether your Monday is just beginning, or you’re already partway through and starting to flag, here’s a little pick-me-up for you!

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McDonald’s Japan celebrates cherry blossom season with new cherry frappe and mocha drinks

With certain varieties of sakura trees already covered in pink blossoms, Japan has got cherry trees on the brain. Everyone is looking forward to go out and see the flowers that’ll only be here for a short time, but why settle for one Japanese tradition when you can have two by combining it with limited-availability fast food, in the form of cherry mochas and frappes from McDonald’s.

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Limited edition ANA Starbucks bottles are available over Japan, but not in it

Just like it does in other markets, Starbucks offers special limited edition merchandise for specific locations in Japan. But even if you’ve already got special tumblers from Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, you collection won’t be entirely complete without this special Starbucks bottle that you can only purchase onboard ANA flights inside or connecting to Japan.

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Japanese netizens praise Starbucks’ move to promote 800 temp workers

With just over 1,000 stores covering practically every prefecture, Starbucks is a coffee powerhouse in Japan. Since opening its first store in Tokyo in 1996, the company has managed to adapt its business model to suit Japanese tastes with seasonal flavors, expanded (alcoholic) menu options and utilizing Japan’s unique architecture. Last week, Starbucks went one step further in its Japanese expansion plan by announcing that it would promote 800 temp workers to full-time positions, which netizens applauded as a move to create pressure on the Japanese market to provide better benefits to workers.

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Are 100 adhesive warmers enough to take on a Tokyo snow storm?

In one of the most vicious cases of deja vu we’ve had in decades, the twin of the massive snowstorm that dumped on Japan last weekend swung through the country with another few inches of snow on Friday. Unfortunately, in Tokyo at least, we also got enough rain to melt half of the snow, turning everything into a freezing, wet mess. Ah, winter!

As you can imagine, quite a few people are taking the opportunity to lock themselves inside and practice their “brrrrrrr” faces. But not the esteemed writers on the Japanese side of RocketNews24! They decided the snow was the best environment to find out if 100 adhesives warmers work as well as a coat. See the awkward results of the test below!

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AKB48 to hold exclusive show for coffee contest winners, Mr. Sato immediately buys over 300 cans

Recently the walls of the RocketNews24 office have been echoing with giddy squeals of “Eeeeeee… Takamina!” at a rate of about once per hour. In between, we have been treated to a middle-aged man’s song-stylings of AKB48’s single Koisuru Fortune Cookie.

It all started last year when our reporter Mr. Sato had entered a dance contest to meet graduating AKB48 member Tomomi Itano, but despite his best efforts he lost out. Now, he has his sights on Minami Takahashi (“Takamina”) and the chance to see her and other members in an exclusive show only available to the winners of a contest held by Japan’s Wonda Coffee.

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The “doya-gao” phenomenon and where you’re most likely to see it

A calm atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, and decent coffee – what’s not to love about Starbucks (unless you’re a staunch New Englander who swears by Dunkin’)? If you walk into any branch, you will see a line of people waiting to grab their favorite caffeinated pick-me-up. You’re also likely see a bunch of people hunched over their laptops typing away furiously, either by themselves or huddled together in groups. The laptop of choice to go with their steaming mug of coffee? From what we’ve seen, it seems to be a MacBook Air.

Have you ever watched people when they’re silently working on a computer, wondered what they’re up to, and then all of a sudden a smug little grin inexplicably breaks across their face? This self-satisfied look is known as a doya-gao in Japanese. One of our Japanese reporters, who is a frequent patron of Starbucks, recently began to notice a correlation between the frequency of people using MacBook Airs in Starbucks and those wearing a doya-gao expression. Intrigued, she started taking notes, and discovered that there are three branches of Starbucks in Tokyo where the doya-gao phenomenon is particularly common…

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Forget coffee, this Tokyo Starbucks now sells booze!

Normally known for a spot to get a sugar-fueled caffeine fix, Starbucks recently opened a new outlet in Tokyo that is serving alcohol. The new coffee shop is part of a concept line of cafés the company is establishing in Japan to offer customers something a little different from the usual Starbucks experience. In addition to serving upscale coffee drinks and homemade desserts, this shop will be selling wine and beer after noon in the fashionable Shimokitazawa neighborhood.

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Bangkok brothers get banged with a Starbucks lawsuit

Starbucks has a policy of seamlessly blending their coffee outlets into remote tourist locations around the world. So when two brothers in Bangkok set up their street-side coffee cart business under a familiar looking green logo, Starbucks was quick to assert that this was not one of their operations.

Damrong and Damras Maslae are now in hot water as the global coffee franchise is coming down hard and suing them for copyright infringement.

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Wonda Power Blend Coffee packs the “perfect” heart-jolting punch, our energy expert says!

We here at RocketNews24 know that time is money and sometimes you need more than 24 hours in a day. Until we figure out how to manipulate time, we will be relying on our energy drink expert, Energy Man, to find out which beverage gives us the most bang for our sleep-deprived buck. Energy Man downs at least one or two (sometimes four, he admits) of these stimulant-laden drinks a day and wants to share with us his new favorite drink to wake us all up.

Energy Man recently saw a new drink on the market that he had to try. Being a connoisseur of these jolting beverages, Energy Man wondered if the world needed Wonda Power Blend Coffee in the already crowded energy drink market. Click the link to read why our Energy Man found himself saying “bravo!” to the new coffee drink.

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Starbucks: More expensive in China than Japan or America, but why?

It’s safe to say that no one you see at Starbucks is there because they want to stretch their java-buying budget. With locations in more than 60 countries (and seemingly every branch in the Tokyo area at maximum capacity every day between 3 and 7 p.m., the Seattle-based chain must be doing something right, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel a bit surprised at the prices they charge.

But the next time you’re sitting in a Starbucks in Japan or America, pretending to sip from an empty mug because you’re not quite ready to disconnect from the free wi-fi but don’t feel like laying out the cash for another cup, consider yourself lucky. You’d be paying a lot more for your latte if you were at a Starbucks in China.

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