Like something out of a Wes Anderson film, this Blue Bottle Coffee cafe in Nagoya, Japan, is a too-perfect, polished, beautifully designed, unabashedly retro and twee little trailer camper parked in front of the city’s central train station. And though Blue Bottle harbors a throughly modern and minimalist aesthetic, the retro-styled trailer is totally “on brand.” It’s a big hit. We hit this spot twice a day for three days in a row while visiting Nagoya and it was mobbed every time.
The camper trailer is known as the Roomette. It’s colored in a creamy off-white hue and it’s undeniably cute. Its curved form is similar to the vintage-style Airstream trailers that have become popular again in the United States the past decade with the rise of glamping and the hipster outdoor lifestyle. The Roomette sits parked in the plaza in front of the train station like an attractive bauble. Its sight is like a Pavlovian bell for espresso-based coffee addicts — Just looking at it makes you WANT to drink coffee!
Whenever we’ve visited a Blue Bottle Coffee in Japan, mostly various locations around Tokyo, they’re always busy. We actually went to the company’s very first Japan location on its opening day back in 2015. That shop is in the now artsy-hip, mixed-use residential and semi-light industrial Kiyosumi-Shirakawa neighborhood of Tokyo, a district historically associated with the coffee industry in Japan as it is home to a lot of coffee roasting companies and bean importers. The day we went to the opening, there was a roped zig-zagging line like the kind at an amusement park or airport security checkpoint, with over a hundred people queued up and a band of security guards manning the entrance.
Needless to say, Blue Bottle is popular in Japan. The company originated in Oakland, California, in the early 2000s, but is now majority-owned by the Nestle corporation, which has for over a century managed a lot of its own brands in Japan with great success. Blue Bottle’s product and aesthetic have resonated with Japanese consumers. But “cool” brands, especially foreign brands, can quickly come and go. Those that enter the Japanese market on an instant wave of popularity are subject to herd-like adoption and abandonment based on sentiments that change like seasonal fashions. But the arc of long-term success bends towards consistent quality. Blue Bottle Coffee is still here after nearly a decade. It’s here to stay for a good long while. And we hope we see more of the trailers. We’re in love with them.