Yes, I know: what does Japan has to do with coffee? Well, I am going to be honest with you: In Tokyo I enjoyed one of the bests lattes I have ever had. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I think I can find an explanation to this, it has to do with the culture of doing things right.
Let me tell you the story first, the name of the place is Le Café Doutor. It is located in Ginza, that is a very chic avenue in Tokyo (I would assume the equivalent of 5th Avenue in NYC or Masarik for my friends in Mexico).
After a day of riding the subway and visiting some of the typical touristic places in Tokyo (the Toyko Tower, Buddhist monastery, the fish market auction among others) I went to Ginza since I heard a lot about it. As soon as I started walking down the street, names such as Gucci or Apple started showing up; I stepped into some of the stores and I immediately sensed how all these brands seemed to be more expensive in Yens. The complete experience is amazing and hard to describe, you are surrounded by rivers of people coming and going at an incredible fast pace, all of them wearing the latest trend in fashion and immersed in their mobiles. I was enjoying just being there and suddenly, I saw it in a corner, the place that would put the cherry on top: A chic café, with big windows and seating outside; it seemed like the perfect place to crash and enjoy a cup of coffee.
Since I was already drinking lattes in the US, I thought that I would give it a try, but I wasn’t expecting anything exciting about the coffee; from all the things I knew Japan was good for, I didn’t know coffee was one of them. So, there I was asking for a latte, and suddenly something amazing happened…
…the guy crafting my coffee was not your average Starbucks barista; this guy was an artist, he used the milk he was pouring to draw a leave in my cup (which later I discovered it was called a Rosetta). This was the first time I saw someone doing something like this. He was creating art in my cup. Still wondering how was he able to do that I stepped outside and I was lucky enough to find a seat with a perfect view. At that moment, out there, far away from home, but with a familiar smell and a warm cup in my hands I felt in peace and relaxed, it was one of those moments where time stops around you and you are able to appreciate small details like the wind and people’s expressions while they stare at their phones. It is amazing what a good cup of coffee can make!
The following morning I decided to test my luck at another café in a much discrete area in Tokyo, and once again, I was not disappointed, it was delicious too. The taste, smell and looks of the coffee were perfect. I left that day Japan with a very good impression.
As I told you before I was surprised to get such a good coffee experience over there, but now that I think about it I shouldn’t have been that surprised. After all, the milk, beans and the espresso machine could easily be bought from any place in the World. But what about the barista’s skills, as far as I could tell he was Japanese, and I have heard wonders about Italian baristas, but not a lot about Japanese ones, so how did he acquired those skills?
If you have ever heard about Total Quality Management (TQM), Just in Time (JIT) and other terms to talk about quality, you know that a lot of them started in Japan. It is not just about doing things, but doing things in the best possibly way you can. When a culture is so oriented towards quality and detail in every aspect, you could easily see how important it should be for any business to pay that much attention on their raw materials, equipment, and on the training to their employees. They already did it with cars, are coffee shops their next target?
So now you know, If you are ever around the Ginza area, and you want a nice place to seat down and watch the crowd walking through the streets, here is the address: Le Cafe Doutor, Sanai Dream Center 1, 2F, 5-7-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo( http://www.tradina.com/0355378959/map.html)
For those of you that are not familiar with a Rosetta, here is a link to a video showing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH0JZKejJdU
Once that I was back home I discovered that the latte I have been drinking at Starbucks although it is technically a latte, it is not the kind of latte I wanted. With this experience I learnt that drinking a cup of coffee could be a delight for the senses: smell, taste, touch and sight, and now I try to make every cup count…