Celebrated American coffee roaster Blue Bottle Coffee has invaded Japan—opening a 7,000-square-foot roastery that encompasses a cupping room, Loring SmartRoaster, kitchen, and an über-cool coffee bar that has customers lining up around the block.

Founder James Freeman, a freelance musician and coffee fanatic opened Blue Bottle in Oakland, California in 2002. Using a tiny six-pound batch roaster, Freeman’s aim was to start a roaster for others like us, those who would appreciate the taste of freshly roasted coffee.

The name Blue Bottle is actually an homage to Vienna’s first coffee house, Hof zur Blauen Flasche (“House under the Blue Bottle”). This “Blue Bottle” was founded in 1686 by Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki who helped defeat the Turks in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The retreating Turkish army left behind sacks of coffee beans which, according to legend, Kulczycki ground up and started serving coffee to the Viennese.

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You’d be hard-pressed to find a café that is more serious about their coffee in southern Stockholm than Johan & Nyström’s Konceptbutik (or “concept store”). In this flagship outlet, the Swedish coffee roaster offers everything from coffees and teas to brewing equipment and training for coffee lovers.

There are three brewing stations, each showcasing a different brewing method. Depending on how you like your coffee, you can have it made via Aeropress, syphon or pour over. Coffees, sourced from Direct Trade farms, are roasted at both the main roastery in Tullinge and on site using a 5kg Probat.

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This is our weekend getaway in Penang’s heritage zone, in the heart of George Town. We wake to the muffled clatter of the streets below, where vendors and hawkers have been up for hours already.

We are not tourists, we tell ourselves; there is no timed-to-the-minute schedule to adhere to. But it’d be a shame to spend the whole day in bed, as tempting as it is.

Let’s have coffee.

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