Blue Bottle’s enviable new location in Kyoto — its first Japanese cafe outside Tokyo — isn’t exactly like the ones here in the Bay Area. No offense to our own outposts of the Oakland-based coffee chain, which is now mostly owned by Nestlé: The W.C. Morse building Blue Bottle in Temescal, for instance, is definitely a looker. But the newest Blue Bottle is also, in a way, the brand’s oldest, located in a century-old building steps from the Nanzen-ji Temple. That 13th century temple and garden is among the most important Zen temples in all of Japan, and the new cafe is pretty zen to match.
Tourists and locals who need a jolt of energy are busy Instagramming the new cafe, which generated some lines when it opened. Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects was behind the remodel of the machiya style wooden townhouse, which features exposed mud walls —exposed brick is officially boring by comparison.
Blue Bottle’s Nestlé-fueled expansion continues with more Boston and DC locations on deck, but it’s unlikely those cafes will be quite so visually striking as this one. Nor will they feature green tea mint cookies, an item exclusive to the new Kyoto Blue Bottle.