Step inside with us as we try all the exclusive treats and drinks only available at this stunning Japan location. 

Ever since Starbucks announced that Tokyo would receive a special Starbucks Reserve Roastery – the fifth of its kind in the world, following branches in New York, Seattle, Milan and Shanghai – there’s been a lot of hype surrounding its grand opening on 28 February.

We were lucky enough to step inside the huge four-storey complex on a press day ahead of the official opening, where Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson, Starbucks Japan’s CEO Takafumi Minaguchi, Starbucks’ Chief Design Officer Liz Muller, and famed Italian baker Rocco Princi were also in attendance.

▼ Left to right: Princi, Muller, Minaguchi, Johnson.

The team behind the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo shared some interesting insights about the new outpost, including design details that pay homage to Japan and the Roastery’s location in Aobadai, right next to the beautiful sakura-lined Meguro River. So let’s take a look at all the things you should see and taste here, starting from the moment you approach the iconic new building.

▼ Take a look at the video below for a quick walkthrough of the complex.

▼ Japanese architect Kengo Kuma says he wanted to integrate the building into the city with modern hisashi (roof eaves) and planter boxes designed to look like modern bonsai.

▼ The Roastery is the first one in the world to be created from the ground-up, with the Starbucks mermaid greeting visitors as they enter through the main doors.

As soon as you walk inside, you’ll be struck by the sheer expanse of the interior. The ground floor (referred to as the “first floor” in Japan) is called “Starbucks Reserve”, and it’s where you’ll find a selection of the company’s rarest coffees.

▼ At the front there’s the main roaster, where customers can see the coffee journey firsthand as it makes its way from bean to cup on the premises.

▼ Green coffee beans are stored in these silos for seven to eight days so the gasses can be released before the roasting process begins.

At the back of the first floor is Princi Bakery, where focaccia pizzas, breads, and sweets are freshly baked and delivered to bars on different floors throughout the day.

▼ They also whip up an awesome platter of cheese and cured meats for events.

The Main Bar is where you’ll find some of the country’s most exclusive Starbucks coffee drinks, including a Barrel-Aged Cold Brew (1,200 yen [US$10.83]), which is made with beans stored in Bourbon whiskey barrels.

If you look closely at the bar, you’ll see that the ash wood counter features traditional Japanese joinery techniques, as the design team wanted to incorporate the same traditional nail-free woodworking techniques used on Japanese shrines and temples.

▼ The bars were made by Tendo Mokko, a wood company in Yamagata Prefecture, using strong box joints and a simplistic design that pays homage to Japanese culture.

Taking pride of place in the centre of the whole building is an impressive copper cask, which, at almost five-stories high, is the biggest one Starbucks has ever created.

As customers make their way up to the higher floors, they’re able to view the inside of the copper cask, which conceals all the different equipment needed to create the coffee produced onsite.

Running from the cask is a series of “symphony pipes”, which deliver freshly roasted coffee beans from the first floor up to the third floor, complete with digital displays showing the journey of the bean.

▼ Customers can journey up to the second floor via the elevator or two different stairwells.

The stairwell near the elevator features gorgeous murals painted by a local artist who lives in the Nakameguro area. This one shows the Meguro River outside, with its famous cherry blossom trees, and a Japanese tea field plantation.

Another way to get to the second floor is via the stairs at the back of the first floor area, which features a wall directing you to the Teavana Bar, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

This Teavana Bar pays homage to Japan and its local customs and traditions, starting with the brilliant teacup wall. This display contains hundred of mugs specially crafted by members of a small ten-person ceramic factory in the city of Seto in Aichi Prefecture.

The space here is dedicated to all things tea, with staff ready to guide you through the extensive range of specialty blends on offer.

The menu includes a number of signature drinks and creations only available at this Starbucks Reserve Roastery.

One of the drinks you won’t find anywhere else is the gorgeous Teavana Cream Soda Matcha (900 yen).

Made with Uji matcha, an original vanilla ice cream, and sparkling water, this is a tea experience like no other, with the sparkling taste of powdered green tea dancing on your tastebuds with every sip.

▼ Another highly recommended beverage is the Pop’n Tea Sakura Jasmine (950 yen).

This is, in a word, amazing. More like a non-alcoholic cocktail than a tea, this drink is filled with flavour, as it combines the natural hibiscus and cherry notes from the Sakura Allure Tea with the Jasmine Silver Needle Tea blend.

The fruity notes are enhanced by the addition of edible hibiscus flowers, both in the drink and frozen inside the icy sakura-jasmine tea popsicle, creating a deliciously light and refreshing flavour.

▼ Another must-try signature beverage from the Teavana bar is Sakura Path (1,200 yen).

Served on a wooden dew-drop tray, this comes with a small bowl of gyokuro green tea leaves, designed to add fragrance to the set, and a slim sake glass and masu (a wooden box which is sometimes used to serve sake).

Once the gyokuro green tea is poured into the glass, the serving set tricks you into thinking that you’re about to enjoy a sip of Japanese rice wine. There’s a good reason behind this, though, as the gyokuro used in this beverage has been stored in a tea box with sake lees for a week. This creates an incredibly unique type of green tea, which is imbued with the aroma and flavour of Japanese sake.

For those who prefer to enjoy a regular cup of tea, there’s plenty to choose from as well, complete with sweet side pairing suggestions.

Another thing to keep an eye out for here is the gorgeous Teavana wall, which is made with traditional Japanese washi paper. Individual paper strands on each of the fluttering tea leaves here were carefully applied by hand to help recreate their natural vein-like appearance.

The display here also features a beautiful range of locally made drinkware and products, which are all available to purchase.

▼ Before you head up to the next floor, there’s a Tea Scooping Bar where you can take home your favourite Teavana blend as well.

On the third floor is the Arriviamo Bar, which greets customers with a “Tokyo” Coffee Card Wall.

▼ This display is made up of 5,000 cards designed for Starbucks’ Reserve roast coffee regions.

▼ This is where you’ll also find one of two giant clacker boards.

These boards are designed to relay messages in a similar way to the old-school boards used at arrival and departure lounges. According to Muller, these boards are connected to the roastery system, and clack over when a new roast is on its way, much like an arriving train.

Another third-floor highlight is the “P-25” roaster, which is substantially smaller than the one on the first floor, but equally beautiful.

▼ Nearby, you’ll find mission statement plaques…

▼ Origami ceilings…

▼ A Whiskey Barrel Wall, which showcases the casks used to create their barrel-aged blends…

▼ And a side bar dedicated to serving coffee, alcohol, and sweets.

▼ This is where the third-floor cold brew silos are located.

▼ The main star, however, is the Arriviamo Bar, which features a selection of delicious snacks and desserts…

▼ Along with some stunning alcoholic beverages and signature cocktails made with various tea and coffee blends.

▼ Some of the highly recommended alcoholic cocktails here include the Spring Shower (2,000 yen).

This limited-time offering lets you enjoy “hanami cherry-blossom viewing in a cup”, with the addition of an edible sakura blossom and a spray of Starbucks Reserve Cold Brew Coffee on the surface.

There’s also the Tokyo Pour Over (3,000 yen), which comes served with its own drip filter coffee stand and two shot glasses, so you can share the taste of the whiskey-and-coffee blend with a friend or loved one.

▼ And the Nakameguro Espresso Martini (2,000 yen).

This cocktail contains a blend of Japanese vodka, chestnut liqueur, and cacao liqueur – which is shaken, not stirred – and served with chocolate shavings and a decadent piece of Green Bean to Bar Chocolate on the side.

The third and fourth floors also come with outdoor terrace areas where customers can sip their coffee and cocktails while enjoying a view of the sakura trees.

Then it’s up to the fourth floor, where the coffee pack line is located. The Tokyo Roastery packs its coffee beans on site for delivery to Starbucks branches around Japan.

Most of the fourth floor is dedicated to the Amu Inspiration Lounge, where seminars and impromptu meetings can be held.

“Amu” means “to knit” in Japanese, and this space “aims to inspire, connect and knit diverse people and thoughts together”.

Starbucks aims to turn this area into the chain’s first officially-recognised Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) training facility.

There’s also a custom-made Yamaha piano here, with an extended end for musicians to place their coffee drinks on while they play or enjoy impromptu jam sessions with friends.

From the fourth floor you can also enjoy a beautiful view of the Copper Cask, which Starbucks says is their “tribute to the sakura trees”.

The curved cask is adorned with approximately 2,100 flowers, all with a unique shape as they’re modelled on natural materials and hammered individually by hand.

The cask itself has also been hand-hammered, with design project members all leaving their mark with a mallet on the 12 sheets at the second row from the bottom.

Taking the elevator from the fourth floor back down to the entrance is a nice way to stop and take a closer look at some of the Reserve Roast coffee cards.

And before you head to the exit on the first floor, there’s a Coffee Scooping Bar to entice you with some Tokyo Roastery-exclusive beans.

This is where you’ll find exclusive merchandise to take home as well, and unlike the regular lineup of Starbucks sakura drinkware, these cherry blossom mugs and tumblers won’t be available to purchase anywhere else.

If you’re after an “elevated coffee experience” that combines great-tasting goods with unique aspects of Japanese culture, be sure to stop by the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo. And if you time your visit right, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of the sakura at its spectacular riverside location as well.

Cafe information
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo / スターバックス リザーブ ロースタリー東京
Address: Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Aobadai 2-19-23
Open 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Featured image: Starbucks Press Release
Insert images: ©SoraNews24, Starbucks Press Release

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