If you're a coffee lover in Tokyo, you won't want to miss the Starbucks Roastery Reserve Tokyo, the 'it' specialty coffee shop that offers an unforgettable coffee experience, regardless if you're a Starbucks fan or not. Located in the vibrant Nakameguro neighborhood, this coffee roastery is the perfect place to savor the rich, flavorful Reserve coffees that Starbucks is known for.
There are only six Starbucks Roastery outlets in the world and Starbucks Roastery Reserve is the second largest and undoubtedly the prettiest.
Designed by renowned architect, Kengo Kuma to fully blend in with its scenic surroundings right next to Meguro River, the Starbucks Roastery Reserve Tokyo is a must-visit spot for any coffee aficionado to Japan's capital. Be warned though: there is often a queue just to enter and waiting time can go up to 4 hours on weekends and holidays.
So here's my guide to making the most of your visit there.
Firstly, decide what drink you want.
You might be thinking, what? I haven't even gone there and you're already telling me to decide what to drink? Yes, I am because unlike the most Starbucks in Japan, this Starbucks Roastery Reserve serves alcoholic drinks. All. Day. And if you want to try that, then a late evening visit would be ideal.
But if you don't mind kicking off your morning with a designer coffee or tea cocktail, then I would recommend visiting first thing in the morning. During cherry blossom season, the queue starts even before opening time with everyone gunning for the balcony seats overlooking the cherry blossom trees.
Get your ticket entry.
Depending on what time you get there, you will need to scan a QR code to get a timed ticket entry or basically a virtual queueing system. There are limited entries a day so this is the one time you cannot be so flippant with your planning and just walk-in. No ticket or number, no entry.
To kill the time, you can explore the Don Quixote next door or take a leisurely stroll up and down the river. There are heaps of other coffee shops in the area as well for those with a three hours wait.
Next, once you're inside, seek out a table.
The Reserve boasts four floors each with different counters for coffee, tea and cocktails respectively so take your pick and once you have your table, just leave one of your belongings there to book it. It's Japan, your stuff will be safe, I promise.
Only after that, can you proceed to order your drinks and food.
But don't be surprised if you have to queue as well. As aforementioned, there are different counters serving different things and you will have to queue at each one - hence also why it's important to plan your drink and food ahead especially if you're coming by yourself.
To make it easier, there's a guide to their floors
The first floor is where you can get most of your coffee needs, Starbucks Reserve limited edition merchandise and pastries by Rocco Princi, a renowned traditional bakery.
For the alcoholics and instagrammers, the third and fourth floor are where you want to seat yourselves for its beautiful balcony seats. But to get those elusive seats, there is a separate queue system before you even enter the building so just be aware. If you're there for the boozy drinks, then sit yourself right at the Arriviamo Bar and watch the barista make magic happen.
Once your order is ready, the respective counters will beep you to collect your drinks and after a series of photography and food styling, you can tuck in to enjoy a Starbucks experience unlike any other.
As I was but one person with a small stomach capacity during my visit, I can only recommend everything I had especially Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cold Brew. This drink was an experience in a glass by itself. Despite its name, there is no whiskey in it, only coffee that has been aged in a barrel with vanilla. And the vanilla tones goes so well with the smooth texture of the coffee, rightfully served in a whiskey glass. In the spring, the ice comes with a cherry blossom flower pattern.
The other drink I had was the seasonal spring drink - hot Sakura Macchiato which was basically latte with chocolate syrup and strawberry cream on top. A stalk constrast to the cold brew which made me feel all proper and adult-like, the seasonal macchiato brought feelings of coziness and warmth.
Food-wise, I only tried the Tuna Panini which was surprisingly good, even after taking it to-go and having for lunch after. I would definitely order more when I return with friends.Getting There
The nearest station is Nakameguro Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or Tokyu Toyoko Line. From there, it's a 10-15 minutes walk to the roastery. Alternatively, if you're coming from Shibuya, you take bus no 41 and 43 directly to the bus stop located 1 minute away from the roastery.