They say that in Japan, the city of Nagoya is the fiercest market for cafes and as a result it also has many of the best coffee shops in the country. And in the midst of all these high quality roasts and laid-back atmospheres lies one shop in particular that literally manages to stand above the rest.

It’s called Cafe Tsuzuki and has a poster with the slogan “Coffee Guy’s shop: Night and day unique coffee research.” We sent our reporter Yuichiro Wasai down to inquire about their research, stepladder and all.

Coffee Guy

Strolling for about ten minutes from Nakamura Nisseki Station, Wasai could easily find Cafe Tsuzuki thanks to its large poster and unforgettable slogan. There was also a picture of a slightly older gentleman pouring from two decanters into a coffee cup from an unusual height. This must have been “Coffee Guy.”

Wasai entered and took a seat in the surprisingly spacious and sunny cafe decorated with several ornamental plants. An incredibly well stocked menu lay out in front of him, it seemed to offer way more than any cafe in Tokyo he knew of. None of that was of relevance to Wasai though, as he had a mission.

He asked to a waiter, “Say…um, I heard there’s a drink that you pour from a step ladder?”

“Oh yes!” The waiter replied, “The cafe au lait.”

Wasai didn’t hesitate to order one causing the waiter to shout “Cafe au lait, by performance!” to someone in the back. That made sense to our reporter, it certainly seemed like it would be a “performance.”

Warm up act

After a brief wait, a step ladder was brought to Wasai’s table. However, rather than the aging man in a plaid work shirt he was expecting, a fairly young guy appeared. Wasai assumed this must have been the third generation head of the Coffee Guy empire. “Lucky dog,” thought Wasai, “he’s got all the wealth and power of the Coffee Guy family and he’s good looking to boot!”

The Young Coffee Guy smiled and asked Wasai, “Are you married?”

“No, I’m not.” answered our reporter.

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“No…I don’t.”

“That’s great!”

Wasai was getting a little irked at this line of questioning but Young Coffee Guy explained. “You see, when I pour the coffee it represents the male, and the milk represents the female. When they meet together in your cup it is a symbol of great luck in love. Perhaps then you’ll meet someone nice in Nagoya!”

“That right?” returned Wasai, “So I guess when married people come in you have to feed them another line eh? Haha!” It was a little cold, but he still stung from the relationship reminder.

Young Coffee Guy was unfazed, however, saying, “I have a lot of different scenarios. Haha! Alright! On with the performance!”

“Bah, and on top of it all, this SOB is one smooth talker too,” thought Wasai.

Worth the trip to Nagoya

Young Coffee Guy climbed to about halfway up the stepladder and held a decanter of coffee and a decanter of milk in each hand. He took some time to get a good sense of the cup’s position and then began to pour.

It didn’t stop there though. Young Coffee Guy then began to raise the small jugs more. He kept inching his way upward until he was bumping against the ceiling. Wasai was amazed at this pouring technique. He even forgot he was supposed to take pictures and started clapping his hands instinctively.

He felt that even if nothing else were to happen during his trip to Nagoya, it would still be worth it. Then, he noticed something. Normally he wouldn’t say anything, and even the pain of the personal questions had faded due to the amazing show he just saw…but Young Coffee Guy was just too perfect and Wasai felt he needed to be taken down a few pegs.

“Um, you spilt a few drops,” he said to his server. Indeed a minute amount of milky coffee had coalesced in the saucer.

“That’s just a symbol of your overflowing love for someone and an even greater sign of good luck!” Young Coffee Guy quickly said.

Wasai was growing a little more irritated at Young Coffee Guy’s answer for everything and snapped back, “But I don’t have anyone remember? How can my love be overflowing if it isn’t directed at anyone? Huh wiseguy?”

Young Coffee Guy’s smile never quivered, but his eyes took on a sinister tinge. “Hang on,” he said, “the performance is not over yet. For my last act I will pour the rest of the coffee and milk directly into your mouth as you sit at the table!”

Never argue with someone holding scalding hot liquids

Panic took hold of Wasai who couldn’t believe his server was serious. The coffee still must have been piping hot and capable of serious burns if poured directly into his mouth. However, in what seemed to be slow-motion, Young Coffee Guy walked behind him. Wasai had been instructed to tilt his head back and open his mouth wide.

His gut instinct was to just run out of there. Things had gotten out of hand, probably due to his smarmy remarks. Still, a deep rooted jealousy to what he assumed was a rich, handsome, and clever coffee mogul took hold. This was a battle of wills now, and there was no way Wasai would let this sexy devil best him.

He began to tilt his head back and squinted his eyes shut as hard as he could. He had already abandoned hope for his tongue, but he still feared that Young Coffee Guy would make another of his “lucky” spills and burn out a retina or two.

As he sat there for what seemed to be an eternity he thought back to the Cafe Tsuzuki slogan, “This place has definitely gone down the wrong line of coffee research. What the hell were they doing all day and night, anyway?” Then Wasai began to realize he was sitting there for an eternity. He opened his eyes and saw Young Coffee Guy smiling back at him.

On this day he learned that not only were Nagoya’s cafes superior in quality, but their staffs were also superior people. Wasai eventually came to terms with this and smiled as he sipped at his ladder-poured coffee. It was really good. And that truly was one hell of a cafe au lait performance.

Cafe Tsuzuki
Tsuzuki Bldg. 2F, 6-1 Taiko Dori, Nakamura, Nagoya, Aichi
Hours: 7:30am to 7:30pm

Original article by Yuichiro Wasai
Photos: RocketNews24

Last seen photo of Yuichiro Wasai

By the way, the cafe au lait costs 540 yen (US$4.57) with or without the performance, and it comes with all you see here. Mind games are also free of charge if you get lippy.

[ Read in Japanese ]