Delivered to your door...
Anyone who has been in Japan for even a few days can tell you how insanely expensive things can be. Especially coffee. One of the reasons to invest in a coffee brewing set is to avoid the high prices (and uncertain quality) of 'coffee shop' coffee.
Yet even brewing equipment can be pricy in Japan, as can good quality coffee beans. And some types of coffees, such as dark espresso roasts are nearly impossible to find.
But have you considered mail order? Yes, shipping costs can be high, even within the country. Still, you can have fresh gourmet coffee delivered to your door from the U.S. for approx. ¥350 per 100 grams, including shipping, duties, and tax. And it is fresh, as little as 3 days out of the roaster.
And although double-strength coffee makers are available here in Japan (for as much as ¥59,000!), genuine home espresso machines are not. Yet Starbucks can deliver to your door in less than a week their top-of-the-line Estro Profi (Italian-made, with built-in burr grinder and automatic grind dispenser) for about ¥70,000.
Here are some places to call.
Austin Chase Coffee
Austin Chase uses a small-batch roasting process to ensure optimum quality. And yes, they ship to Japan-they are already supplying a coffee shop in Tokyo! Tel: 206-858-8180
Into their tiny San Francisco shop, Castro stuffs 56 straight, blend, flavored, decaf and flavored decaf coffees. My wife likes their Morning Rush. Prices are very reasonable, and they are happy to ship to Japan. Tel: 415-552-6676, Fax: 415-552-0663.
If you like flavored coffees, This San Francisco shop is where to get them as well as a variety of straight coffees and blends, teas, coffee condiments and brewing accessories. Surprise! They're now in Japan! Kobe Tel: 078-321-4370; Fax: 078-321-4381. Osaka Tel/Fax: 06-949-1450.
Hawaii's Best Espresso
Kona coffee is grown on the Big Island and has a bright, mild flavor. Hawaii's Best Espresso offers a variety of Konas, including decaf, as well as coffees from Maui and Kaui. Orders can be placed from their web site: http://hoohana.aloha.net/~bec/index.htm.
Something new on the coffee scene is organic coffee. Organic Garden in Kobe offers a selection of coffees grown under certified organic conditions. Tel: 078-857-0133
This is another San Francisco shop with a large following. Peerless coffees are available in Japan from E&S. Tel: 0120-44-6545. http://www.nsknet.or.jp/~eands/index.html
Peet's is where Starbucks learned their trade 25 years ago. And Peet's is still considered by many to be the premiere roaster on the west roast, er coast. Tel: 800-999-2132.
Porto Rico Importing Co.
A friend says that stepping into Porto Rico's Greenwich Village shop is like stepping back 100 years in time. Huge bags of roasted coffee beans lie everywhere,fresh from the roaster out back. Judging from the long lines of customers, the beans don't lie there for long. Porto Rico also offers espresso machines, grinders, syrups and organic coffees. Tel: 212-477-5421
Seattle's Best Coffee
Another standout roaster from the Pacific Northwest, SBC offers a fine selection of coffees, gift sets, syrups and accessories. Tel: (24-hr): 800-962-9659 ; Fax: 206-442-2465. http://www.seabest.com/sbc/
The Seattle company that started the espresso boom in the Pacific North-west also has a large mail order operation offering a variety of coffees as well as a large selection of espresso machines, coffee cups, and even cookies and candies. Starbucks service is legendary. Tel: 800-782-7282; Fax: 800-754-0256 (both 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Some Seattle folk say that this is the best of the best. Tel: 206-860-5869.
Of course, this is only a partial list of mail-order roasters and equipment purveryors. Consider this column a call for readers to submit their own favorite sources. I'll collect and include them in a future column.