Let’s face it, no one is immune to the allure of Insta-famous foods. Who isn’t guilty of spending an hour or two just scrolling and salivating away at an Insta-foodie’s feed while planning their next culinary excursion? Some foods on the popular social media platform seem almost larger than life, but I find – most of the time anyway – that their real-life counterparts often do deliver.
Exhibit A is coffee at the very stylish Omotesando Koffee on Level 4 of Downtown OUE in the heart of Singapore’s CBD. It’s part of the larger Omotesando Koffee franchise that had its start in a traditional machiya in Tokyo’s quaint Omotesando neighborhood whereby it gained an almost cult-like following during its four-year run. The four-year run was especially impressive considering the shop was only supposed to be a three-month pop-up. Talk about customer demand.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the brand has since branched out to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and of course, iced-coffee-loving Singapore. At a glance, Omotesando’s Singaporean home is a far cry from the bucolic serenity of tatami-lined living. The shop – which is really more of a stand – sits in one of the city’s swankiest buildings and neighbors an award-winning co-working space. Be that as it may, the shop has brought with it elements of design which clearly lend itself to Japanese wabi-sabi design credos: it’s uncluttered and open-concept, relies heavily on bamboo and concrete, and puts its La Marzoco Strada centerstage. Customers are therefore afforded an unobstructed view of their drinks as they are being made. In all fairness, their premises are just as big an object of interest as their drinks.
Ah yes, the drinks. They aforementioned beverages do indeed look wonderful online, but it’s nothing compared to seeing the actual product in person. The drinks in question are bubble-capped iced cappuccinos and iced mochas scattered with a thick layer of cocoa powder. As air bubbles rise, they create a cartoonish turtle-like carapace on top. The resident barista, meticulous and eagle-eyed as he is, seems all too familiar with the mini-photoshoot that these drinks always seem to entail. Can you blame the customer though? It would be sacrilegious not to.
So what’s the deal with Japanese coffee trends? Well, it’s probably worth noting that although Japan is known for its tea ceremonies, it also happens to be one of the world’s largest consumer’s of coffee per capita. With this being the case, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Land of the Rising Sun knows a thing or two about doing caffeine right – all while putting their own twist on it, of course. Jumping off of Omotesando Koffee, it’s easy to see that although Japanese-inspired coffee – which often do make waves on the internet – look fun and sweet on the outside, thought and attention to detail are the driving forces behind their popularity.