During a recent stop at the Fujigawa Service Area in Shizuoka I came across a peculiar vending machine. Written conspicuously on the sign above it were the words: “World first! Coffee grinding viewing! Grinds beans for each cup!”

That’s right: this vending machine grinds beans and makes your drink for you on the spot!

A variety of drinks were available for purchase including drip coffee, Americano, mocha, caffè latte, and cappuccino. Matcha au lait and hot cocoa were also available for those who desire something caffeine-free. Prices ranged from 150 to 200 yen—US $1.80 to $2.50—and most drinks could be served iced or hot, optionally with sugar added.

I decided to order an iced café au lait with 5 g of sugar.

Upon pushing the button for my selection a video display immediately flickered on. It showed the beans being pulled from the hopper, ground, and dropped into a chamber labeled “Dripping for you.” Hot water was run through the coffee and into a cup of milk and ice. When the coffee finished brewing the camera angle changed to show the cup as it was moved around, capped with a lid, and finally transferred to the small gate below the screen with a pleasant “Thank you for waiting!”

All of this was backed by a pleasant instrumental arrangement of the Coffee Rumba. While not having to wait for your drink is part of the appeal of vending machines, the showy production definitely made the wait an enjoyable experience.

I eyed the drink that that had appeared before me. It certainly looked like a store-bought café au lait, but the freshly-ground gimmick means little if the taste falls flat. I picked up the cup and put it to my mouth only to be overcome with that wonderful fragrant taste and aroma that can only be found in freshly ground beans. This was the real deal, and at only 200 yen!

These “Coffee Grinding Viewing” vending machines can be found at service areas across the country, and have even gathered a small following of devoted customers. With such entertainment and taste, it’s no wonder why.

Pictures and video: RocketNews24

[ Read in Japanese ]