coffee

Izumo’s Starbucks, a stone’s throw away from the gathering place of Shinto’s eight million gods

Shintoism has such a large pantheon of gods that the religion even has a structured way in which they all keep in touch with each other. Every October, the deities enshrined across the nation are said to gather in Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo Taisha Shrine, where they convene for their annual divine meeting.

We imagine it’s a busy conference, considering that some eight million deities are thought to attend. So we’re sure several of them were happy to find Izumo City now has a Starbucks, with the same tasty beverages the chain serves all over Japan, but with Japanese décor that’s unique to Izumo.

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Delicious, foamy coffee art at home! We try new 3-D latte art machine “Awataccino”!

As some of our more creative and caffeine-addicted readers might recall, we recently reported that Japan is now supplying a variety of DIY latte-art related goods which will enable anyone to create awe-inspiring masterpieces at home. Of course, we were fascinated by the prospect of being able to stun friends and casual acquaintances with our barista-style foamy coffee sculpting skills. So when the opportunity to test out Takara Tomy’s Awataccino machine came around, we jumped at the chance!

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We head to Nagoya for a nice cup of joe served fresh from a stepladder to your table

They say that in Japan, the city of Nagoya is the fiercest market for cafes and as a result it also has many of the best coffee shops in the country. And in the midst of all these high quality roasts and laid-back atmospheres lies one shop in particular that literally manages to stand above the rest.

It’s called Cafe Tsuzuki and has a poster with the slogan “Coffee Guy’s shop: Night and day unique coffee research.” We sent our reporter Yuichiro Wasai down to inquire about their research, stepladder and all.

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Kentucky Fried Café – New KFC in Japan to offer upscale coffee, tea, and sweets

Although I never met the man, Colonel Sanders doesn’t strike me as a hurried individual. Anybody who’s willing to add 11 different seasonings to his fried chicken can see the value in taking the time to appreciate the finer things in life. I like to imagine that rather than rush through his meals, the KFC founder would linger at the table, at least for a few minutes, and when his schedule allowed, for periods extending to “a spell.”

That’s why I think he’d approve of KFC opening its first full-fledged café this month in Japan.

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New coffee-flavored potato chips “taste like chaos”

Just like how everyone gets excited about superhero crossover projects, two different companies combining forces is a sure way to get junk food fans in Japan fired up. We’ve seen this before with Kentucky Fried Chicken potato chips, and now spud lovers have a new flavor many people are used to getting amped by: coffee.

Since we’re always ready to add to our extensive resume of potato chip sampling, we picked up a bag to try some for ourselves, and they turned out to be even more surprising than we’d imagined.

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Enjoy latte art at home in seconds with the amazingly easy-to-use Deco Latte strips

We like latte art, and its frothy 3-D variant, as much as the next group of visually stimulated coffee sippers. But as nice as it is to have a trained barista decorate your drink with a kitty or smiley face, most of us don’t have the time, equipment, or manual dexterity to add illustrations to drinks we make for ourselves.

But now those artistic flourishes don’t have to be something you can only have when you go out and pay five bucks for a cup of coffee, with new products that’ll let you enjoy latte art at home for about as much effort as tossing a cube of sugar into your mug.

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Ultra-realistic cat latte art blows us away, puts us off our coffee

Latte art is all the rage in Japan right now, and as you might expect, it tends heavily towards the super-kawaii. But today, we spotted some super realistic-looking latte art from Twitter user @dongurinekobei and it looks both amazing and undrinkable.

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【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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