Japan, famous for green tea, is welcoming artisanal American coffee roaster Blue Bottle with long lines that have at times meant a four-hour wait for a cup.
The company, which began in Oakland, California in 2002, hopes its early popularity is more than a passing fad. Japan’s consumer culture is littered with manias for Western food imports: pancakes, popcorn, doughnuts, even Taco Bell.
Success in Japan is important for Blue Bottle, which operates 17 cafes in the San Francisco Bay area, New York and Los Angeles. Japan is its first foray outside of the U.S. Blue Bottle raised nearly $26 million last year to invest in expansion, including financing from Silicon Valley executives, setting the stage for a test of whether an artsy gourmet coffee chain can go big.