Starbucks Roastery Tokyo
March 02, 2019
Starbucks opened their first roastery in Tokyo in the trendy Nakameguro neighbourhood on February 28th.
Being huge fans of the original roastery in Seattle (what can we say, it speaks to our inner wanna-be-American-hipster) we were looking forward to visiting, but admission on the first day was out of the question due to the insane crowds (and you needed a special early-visit ticket to even attend on the morning of the first day).
However, we decided to brave the cold and the still sizeable crowds on Saturday morning for a visit. The roastery is located alongside the river in Nakameguro which is lined with many small shops and flanked on both sides by two very narrow, but very-much-used roads.
We were curious how they were going to manage the crowds (this being Tokyo, anything new and trendy gets instantly mobbed with crowds that defy imagination) especially given the narrow roads. This area gets swamped to the point of paralysis during the cherry blossom season and we were expecting something similar.
But in reality they came up with a rather clever system where people had to line up few buildings down from the actual Roastery to get a ticket with their place in the queue and a QR code. You would scan the QR code and it would tell you your number, what number they were currently on (for admission to the Roastery) and when to come to the other line to queue up to enter. We arrived at around 9:10 AM and found we were #3200 with the screen showing 2850 or so people had already entered since the doors opened at 7am…!
Between the queuing system and the requisite several dozen guards and line-wranglers, the admission and queuing was handled fairly efficiently and cars and people in the neighbourhood were still able to go about their daily routines which was really quite remarkable.
As far as the Roastery itself, it was as to be expected, sleek, amazing and utterly and completely smashed full of people. We braved the cold Tokyo winter to sit outside on the third floor which still had some seats available and offered stunning views of blue skies over the meguro river lined with the not-quite-yet-blossomed cherry trees… this will be the spot to view the sakura come the spring for certain.
The Tokyo Roastery is significantly larger than the one in Seattle with four floors and carried through distinct elements of the Japanese style, both in the architectural construction and the aesthetic choices in the interior. It was quite beautiful and when the crushing swell of the opening crowds die down a bit in a year or so will make for a wonderful place to spend time between work and home.
We’re interested to see how early in the morning it will start to fill up from - the Seattle Roastery tends to not be so crowded from 7-9 in the mornings, even on the weekends, which means that early birds such as ourselves who can arrive by 7 can usually get a seat and get some meaningful work or reading done.
Unfortunately, we’ll need to wait another week or so before we can see, as morning admissions from 7-9am are limited to holds of special advance tickets until around March 10th. General admissions (still requiring one to queue to get the numbered admissions ticket as today) will be permitted from 9am, and post March 10th, regular entry will be allowed from opening at 7am.
After leaving the Roastery we headed down to Yokohama Pacifico for the 2019 Camera & Photo Imaging Show. Just like every year it was crowded, hot and not really all that exciting. These days all the info on the latest new and shiny things leaks days or even weeks in advance so there’s almost no point to visit. We did get to see a preview of some Peak Design Duffle Bag prototypes however which was, amazingly enough, the highlight of the entire trip.
And that was that.⤒ Back to top