A Starbucks I might enjoy visiting...

Good morning everyone,

It's going to continue to be a couple of degrees below normal for today-then it'll warm up for tomorrow and most of the week...well, it won't be much warmer, actually...just a degree or two. Tomorrow is looking cloudy and we might see some rain on Monday before clearing up on Tuesday. It's supposed to remain clear for most of the week.

I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I went to Starbucks. It isn't that I have anything against Starbucks. Their prices are pretty much on par with other specialty coffee shops, they're pretty comfortable and the coffee is good too. It's just that I'm a black coffee drinker and it kills me to pay the same price for a black coffee as I would for a funky coffee. So, I usually just make coffee at my school these days-it probably costs me about Y10.

However, if we had a Starbucks like this one in Hiroshima, you'd probably find me there!

In Tokyo, there’s a very special type of Starbucks that forgoes the usual green-and-white mermaid logo for more subdued, warm-brown hues. They also serve a variety of beers and wine sets paired with cheese or cake.

Called “Inspired by Starbucks”, only four of these special cafes exist in Japan. All located in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, the cafes aim to create a neighbourhood-style atmosphere with wood panel interiors, bright, open-plan spaces and comfortable, homey furniture. What’s most surprising about these cafes is the absence of any bright green Starbucks logos.

▼ The famous mermaid appears in a more subdued form.

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The popularity of these more relaxed cafes is steadily growing, with Starbucks’ latest branch opening in Okusawa on 19 November. Let's look inside to see exactly what the stylish coffee house had to offer over a typical Starbucks location.

The warm lighting and wooden features made this seem more like a privately run cafe rather than a place owned by a multi-million dollar coffee-house company.

There are mugs and coffee cards available for sale here but they’re very different to the usual items on display at Starbucks.

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Unlike waiting in line at a typical Starbucks, here they give you two menus: one for beverages and food and another for “Evenings”, which features an alcohol menu that’s available from midday every day.

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The food options include tempting delights such as Macaroni and Cheese and an apple pie made with apples from Aomori Prefecture. The glass display case on the counter is also packed full of sweet temptations. There’s cakes, croissants, cookies and apple pie.

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Try something like a ‘Kenya’ cappuccino and an ‘Espresso Roast’ iced foam macchiato, which come served on elegant wooden trays.

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While I'm sure the coffees are delicious, it’s the look of the comfortable seats and warm, cozy atmosphere that really sets this place apart from its brothers and sisters in the Starbucks world.

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Inspired by Starbucks is also a great place to enjoy a tipple. The alcohol selection includes wines from California’s West Lane Winery, a Westend Eternity Sparkling Cuvée from Australia and beers from Redhook Brewery, Beck’s, and the locally brewed Far Yeast Tokyo Blonde and Snow Blanche from Hyogo Prefecture.

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While the drinks can be enjoyed on their own, there are also three beautifully presented wine sets from the “Evenings” menu.

▼ From left to right: Cheese on Wine; Lemon Cake on White; Bliss Chocolate Cake on Red.

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While the cakes are specially paired with the wines, the cheese set comes with the option of white, red or sparkling wine. Personally, I'd opt for a white wine to go alongside the soft and smoked cheeses. The Lemon Cake on White is one for the sweet-tooths, with the rich icing dominating the light-bodied white wine. The chocolate cake and Merlot combination would be my favourite. I can imagine the flavours pairing together beautifully. Just looking at the menu and decor, it would be easy to forget you were actually at Starbucks!

Open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day, this is a great place to stop by for a coffee or even a drink or two. Or three. If you’re ever in Setagaya, be sure to step inside and check it out!

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Cafe Information
Inspired by Starbucks/インスパイアード バイ スターバックス
Address: Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku, Okusawa 2-38-9
東京都世田谷区奥沢2-38-9
Open: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

I, on the other hand, will be enjoying a cup of instant coffee this morning...ha ha!

Have a great day!


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