This Ginza cafe treats its coffee like fine wine, so we sent Mr. Sato to sample a vintage.

Recently, SoraNews24’s ace reporter Mr. Sato was out and about in Ginza, one of the swankiest parts of Tokyo. Having recently listened with intense jealousy as his coworker P.K. described the tasty Tokyo-grown coffee he’d recently enjoyed, Mr. Sato also found himself craving a cup of joe.

So Mr. Sato made his way up to the top floor of the Ginza Six shopping center, since, as with almost all entertainment complexes in Japan, it houses an array of restaurants. Hanging a quick right after exiting the elevator, he came across the Grand Cru Cafe and stepped inside.

For restaurants in Japanese shopping centers, the general rule is the higher the floor, the higher the price. Add in the fact that Ginza is a pricey part of town, and Mr. Sato figured he’d probably end up paying about 1,000 yen (US$9) for his cup of coffee, but that’s OK. He figured he’d earned a reward for himself by working so hard at his particular brand of journalism. And besides, the cafe definitely looked elegant enough to justify a bit of premium pricing, with a snappily dressed attendant pouring coffee for the handful of other afternoon customers. “I’ll be with you in just a moment, sir,” the employee said as Mr. Sato took a seat and looked at the menu.

But this wasn’t like any coffeehouse menu he’d ever seen before. As a matter of fact, it included a spreadsheet-like chart, with yearly vintages running across the top row, and some a decade old! That’s because the Grand Cru Cafe specializes in high-quality coffee beans, and even takes a page from Japanese bars by allowing customers to purchase a bottle of beans which they’ll keep on the premises as your private reserve, using any leftover beans to brew a fresh cup for you the next time you come in (each bottle has enough beans for about six cups).

Wondering how much this sort of posh service would cost, Mr. Sato ran his eyes over the price list. Unfortunately, he hasn’t felt like wearing his glasses since he tried to break them with his butt (though, in his defense, he was only copying what he’d seen sexy bar hostesses on TV doing). So at first, he doubted his eyes, but then he looked closer and confirmed…

…that the Grand Cru Cafe charges as much as 150,000 yen (US$1,330) for certain varieties. Oh, and others simply have their prices listed as “ASK,” which implies they might be even more expensive.

▼ The menu said to ask, but Mr. Sato was afraid to.

Still, having come this far, Mr. Sato was intrigued. Luckily for him (and his wallet), not every bottle of coffee at the cafe runs to six digits, and so he settled on a fairly recent Jamaican vintage.

“Tremendously deep sweetness,” began the menu’s description of coffee farm Juniper Peak’s 2016 Blue Mountain. “Strong body accompanied by gentle acidity, giving way to a clear, clean flavor. A rare example of a combination of ultimate yet superbly balanced sweetness.”

Mr. Sato placed his order, and once again, the Grand Cru Cafe showed how it treats coffee with all the grace and ceremony that sommeliers handle fine wine. The employee retrieved the bottle containing the beans he would use and showed it to Mr. Sato, giving him an additional description of its characteristics.

He then removed the bottle’s plug, producing an audible and enticing pop like the uncorking of a champagne bottle, which results from the Grand Cru Cafe bottling its beans with a measure of nitrogen gas in order to prevent oxidation and loss of flavor.

The employee then brewed Mr. Sato’s coffee, eventually bringing it to his seat with a crisp “Terribly sorry to have kept you waiting” as he placed an exquisite cup and saucer in front of our reporter.

Of course, such dignified tableware is to be expected. Mr. Sato’s single cup of 2016 Juniper Peak Blue Mountain, using a sixth of the beans he’d purchased, was costing him 2,700 yen (US$24), since the 100-gram (3.5-ounce) bottle of beans cost him 16,200 yen (US$143).

So was this cup of coffee really a better use of his money than, say, 27 Plastic Bottle Bottom Caps from 100 yen store Daiso? In Mr. Sato’s mind, absolutely. Just like the description in the menu had promised him, the coffee had a richly sweet yet comfortingly relaxing flavor. “It was both exotic and eccentric,” Mr. Sato says, speaking to its rare mix of complexity and drinkability, and he recommends inhaling deeply as you sip, so that you can savor the aroma as well.

Speaking of savoring, considering the price of its wares, the Grand Cru Cafe encourages customers to linger, and even goes so far as to say its coffees are most delicious when they’ve cooled just a bit after pouring. So Mr. Sato did indeed take his sweet time, feeling more dignified with each sip, and even somehow handsomer.

When Mr. Sato finished his cup, he could have left the bottle and its remaining beans at Grand Cru (bottles can be kept for up to two weeks). Instead, though, he opted to take the bottle home with him, and it’s been sitting on his desk at SoraNews24 headquarters ever since. We keep hoping he’s going to offer us a cup, but instead, whenever he’s feeling low on energy, he pops open the bottle and takes a deep breath of the beans’ wonderful smell, then reseals the container and goes back to work with a smile on his face.

Cafe information
Grand Cru Cafe / グランクリュカフェ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-10-1, Ginza Six 13th floor
東京都中央区銀座6-10-1 Ginza Six 13F
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Grand Cru Cafe exterior image: Ginza Six
Grand Cru Cafe interior image: Mi Cafeto
All other images ©SoraNews24
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