First photos I’m sharing from my new phone and WOW what a difference. As it turns out, losing my phone was a blessing in disguise. Several weeks ago, I saw some news in passing about how a limited number of cameras on iPhone 6 Pluses were defective. (Just google: ‘iPhone 6 plus defective camera’ and you’ll land on a bunch of results.)
Turns out, mine was one.
Apple’s replacement program requires me to ship my phone to them. I didn’t want to be without a phone for a few days so I chose to live with blurry photos. Ummmmm what a colossal mistake. I mean, look at these photos! Such a massive difference from all the photos on this blog!! These are the best photos I’ve taken in almost a year and finally see what the fuss over this phone is about — WTF APPLE!!
I guess everything happens for a reason.
By the way, these photos are from a coffee shop I stumbled upon. They just opened in July and I still don’t want to share yet, as many people have yet to discover it. For now.
The man in a tie and slightly wrinkled, baggy white shirt swiftly chooses three old fashioned porcelain cups with matching saucers out of hundreds, lined up on a wooden cabinet built into the back wall. He picks each cup up, lifting them above his head towards the light, thoroughly examines them, then swipes each cup with a crisp white cotton towel. He does the same to the matching saucers. Lift up towards the light. Examine. Wipe down.
My friend and I sitting side by side at the bar looked at each other and exchanged a silent: wtf. Who is he? And what is this place?!
Chatei Hato is an extremely old school coffee shop located in an alley on the non-busy side of Shibuya. (Non-busy side = opposite from the famous Shibuya crossing.) The interior seems to be in tact from when it was built over 25 years ego.
The master (masutā, as we pronounce in Japanese) is the neck tied gentleman responsible for the pours. Each cup of coffee takes about 15 – 20 minutes and boy, is this place something else.
I first visited back in July and failed to write about it until now. A chef friend and I were meeting Namae-san (of L’Effervescence) who suggested three cafes. He texted verbatim: “Fuglen Tokyo— a cozy place to sit and talk. The Roastery — a nice place to sit. Closer to Harajuku. Chatei Hato will be an experience. James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, says this is the original idea of third wave coffee.”
Which is how we ended up here.
Third wave coffee, by the way, is the high-end coffee movement in which the cafe invests in curated high quality, specialty beans which are ground to order. Then there is special care put into the brew, pour, temperature, etc.
We arrived right at opening and sat at the massive wood bar and was immediately greeted by this ↓
A handwritten menu which changes daily. My chef friend chose the Brazilian blend I believe and Namae-san asked the masutā for a coffee, masutā’s choice that is low in acidity — or sanmi 酸味 — as we say in Japanese. I stopped drinking coffee in January but I couldn’t sit in this coffee shop, right in front of the masutā and not order coffee. So I chose what Namae-san was having.
As soon as we placed our coffee orders, it was like the curtains drew up in a theater and the three of us sat frozen in awe, as we silently watched the masutā, this coffee magician, go to work. I never knew such a simple act as scooping and grinding coffee beans then pouring a cup of coffee could be so artistic.
And the level of care and detail going into each and every cup he pours is astounding. He even pours hot water into a coffee cup, pours the hot water into the saucers so they are the same temperature as the cup.
They serve lattes, cafe au laits, and teas and other beverages. I don’t know about you but as a patron, I would be extremely uneasy to order anything but a straight cup of black coffee. Which is why I broke my no coffee streak and ended up drinking one cup (which had me wired for a while afterwards).
This place is definitely a Japan only experience and a must go for all coffee lovers!
Chatei Hato Drop this into Google Maps↓ 東京都渋谷区渋谷1-15-19
Open daily from 11 am – 11 pm (last order is at 11 pm)
No website, no English menu
Blue Bottle Coffee is the beloved artisan coffee shop, huge in San Francisco, New York and LA. They recently opened two locations in Tokyo. Both, are immensely popular. When the first Blue Bottle opened there were lines out the door. The wait was three hours for weeks! For coffee!! WHY.
Maybe it’s because I quit drinking coffee in January of 2015 I can no longer understand. I used to be addicted to caffeine and drank about six to eight cups a day. This year I just quit cold turkey — no reason, simply broke the habit — and have had only one cup in July since. (Only because I was invited for coffee and we went to this old school cafe where a man in suit makes coffee. It was uneasy not to order one. I think I was wired for two days.)
When Blue Bottle opened in Aoyama, I heard about the epic lines and how it is the new place to go. I finally got the chance to go the other day and the property is absolutely stunning.
We hung out on the balcony, chatted, while others enjoyed their espressos. It was sunny in Tokyo for the first time in a week and the trees encapsulating the patio area served as a refreshing shade and provided a nice breeze in the Tokyo summer heat.
The Kiyosumi location is the one which opened first and the Blue Bottle there is massive. It’s more like a coffee compound than a coffee shop with its loft like interior and sky high ceilings. It’s the Japan HQ I believe, where all the magic happens. It’s a bit out of the way though.
The Aoyama location is in the middle of the charming area – extremely convenient and a super popular hang out spot. It’s on the second floor of a boutique tucked into a half business – half residential district.
If you are a coffee lover, Blue Bottle Aoyama is definitely recommended! And even if you don’t drink coffee, they have a very lovely tea selection.
Bonus: for camera nerds, you may have noticed the top photo had some pretty baller cameras in the background. Here’s a bonus shot by me, taking a photo of my friend, taking the photo above. Huh? I got confused writing that out but you get the picture. Oh. I also made an unintentional funny…
Anyway, my friend has this super handy Bluetooth lens compatible with iPhones. I didn’t know of its existence until I saw it the other day. Turns out, it’s a Sony Cybershot Carl Zeiss lens and has been on the market since 2013. So for people serious about food photos, this could be a handy gadget for your Instagram photos 😉
Don’t be ashamed. It’s okay. We default to Starbucks at one point or another. Especially, when exhausted from traveling or in a foreign land where you don’t speak the language. How can you not? Starbucks is familiar. The menus are mostly the same world wide.
Good news is that Starbucks in Japan is tastier than the ones in the US. The beans don’t taste burnt. Or as burnt, to be accurate.
So if any of you happen to be in Japan and like your drinks with extra-foam, the Japanese term for extra-foam is ‘foam-y’ when you order. Learned something new so I thought I’d share, too.