A cluster of vending machines stands on a Roppongi street corner next to a small public parking lot a few blocks from our high-rise Tokyo home. The machines dispense a variety soft drinks, including canned coffees, hot and cold.
Nothing unusual about that. From its megacities to its rural hamlets, Japan is famous for the ubiquity of compact, well-designed vending machines conveniently selling all manner of items, from beer and cigs to green tea and panties and much more. Most are selling beverages.
What makes this corner special is that it has a Blue Bottle Coffee vending machine. We love this. Blue Bottle Coffee is the American third-wave artisanal coffee brand that runs a chain of beautiful cafes in major cities around the U.S. Its coffee beans retail in better supermarkets around the country.
Blue Bottle’s coffee is pretty damn good. They make a couple of original coffee and tea drinks that are uniquely its own. (Their chicory-infused “New Orleans Iced Coffee” and Japanese toasted barley tea are bangers.) Yes, we’re big fans. So seeing this Blue Bottle vending machine got our juices flowing.
Not that finding fresh high-quality third-wave coffee or beans in Japan is difficult. The country is filled with excellent espresso bars and cafes serving up some of the finest coffees on the planet. And Japan has invented some of best coffee-making techniques and gear in the world. Its coffee game is super legit.
In Tokyo, you can practically find hot coffee within a stone’s throw from anywhere you might be standing. In fact, there’s an actual Blue Bottle cafe a block away from this vending machine! See the map below. But unlike the cafe, the vending machine is open 24 hours day!
So when hardcore jet-lag is kicking in and it’s after hours and we want a decent cup of coffee but don’t feel like making our own, we can walk around the corner and still get our Blue Bottle fix. Who said modern life is rubbish?