After learning The Secret of Drip, we think we need to have an important conversation with our boss.

There are a lot of classy looking cafes along the side streets that branch off from Omotesando, the tree-lined Tokyo boulevard in the Harajuku neighborhood that’s home to flagship stores for fashion brands from around the world. One of the newest places to pop in for an iced coffee, though, called The Secret of Drip, isn’t like the others.

For starters, there’s the price. Cafes in trendy parts of town tend to charge a premium, but The Secret of Drip asks just 80 yen (US$0.58) for a coffee, which is less than you’d pay for a canned coffee from a vending machine these days. But the Secret of Drip doesn’t just provide affordable liquid refreshment, it also offers a bit of mystery.

Step inside, and you won’t see any employees or baristas. A signboard instructed us to grab an order sheet, fill it out, pay at a terminal at the counter, and then “post” our order.

We weren’t entirely sure what all of that meant just yet, but we figured we’d take it one step at a time. Looking over the order sheet, we were shocked, but in a happy way, to see just how many different options we had!

There are 14 different kinds of beans to choose from, plus four different styles (black, milk, soda, and “fruit & flavor”).  We’ll save you the trouble of trying to pull up that lesson from junior high math in your memory banks and just tell you that calculates to 56 different coffee combinations you can make. Look way down at the bottom of the beans list, and you’ll also find iced green tea, hojicha (roasted green tea), and Earl Grey tea, bringing the total number of drinks you have to choose from all the way up to 59.

We opted for an Organic Columbia with milk. The cafe doesn’t take cash, so we made our 80-yen payment by tapping our e-money card (the same one we use for buying train tickets) at the terminal. Then it was time to “post” our order…

…which you do by dropping the order sheet into a tear-shaped hole in the wall?!?

Again, there are no visible staff members in the cafe, and The Secret of Drip’s logo even contains the phrase “No barista, but good taste.” After a short wait, we got our chance to check the accuracy of the second part of that claim when one of the other tear-shaped openings in the wall rotated around with our drink on a tray, accompanied by a placard with our order number.

▼ It somehow feels both retro and high-tech at the same time, like something out of an ‘80s sci-fi movie.

The coffee was, in a word, beautiful. The inviting soft brown color contrasted elegantly with the milk, with an enticing layer of condensation forming on the glass in the Tokyo summer heat.

Taking a sip, we were rewarded with just about the ideal mix of flavors for a July mid-day coffee break. The coffee itself was easy on the bitter notes, with a rich flavor and a pleasant amount of acidity. Combined with the milk, it was comforting and invigorating, and felt like an absolute bargain at just 80 yen.

As we finished our last sip, our attention turned to an envelope that had also been placed on the tray.

We opened it, and inside was a letter revealing, well, the secret of The Secret of Drip.

The reason why the cafe says it has no barista, and also why its prices are so low, is because the coffee they serve is actually prepared using Japanese coffee company UCC’s Drip Bot coffee-making machine and its compatible drink capsules, with the price of the drinks based on the price of the capsules.

At the very bottom of the letter was a post script, saying “Please knock on the door at the back of the cafe that has a question mark on it.”

When we knocked, an employee opened the door and invited us inside, where we got to try out the machine for ourselves.

▼ We didn’t get to take video inside the secret room, but here’s a preview from UCC themselves.

It’s actually a pretty clever way of showing off the benefits of the kitchen gadget. By starting with the result, a glass of coffee that was cafe-quality in both looks and flavor for just 80 cents, the minor hassle of having to put the pods into the machine yourself feels totally worth it.

The Secret of Drip is a popup store that’s only going to be sticking around until July 23, but thankfully now that we know The Secret of Drip’s secret, we’re working on our pitch to try to convince our boss to buy a UCC Drip Bot for the office so we can keep having the cafe’s coffee even after it closes.

Cafe information
The Secret of Drip / ひみつのドリップ
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 4-24-3 Court C
Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Until July 23

Top image: PR Times
Insert images ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

[ Read in Japanese ]