Overfussiness monocle.com

Via Shawn Blanc comes Nicholas Coldicott’s visit to Irukaya, ostensibly the finest coffee in Tokyo. With rules like “no pictures” and “no talking to the owner”, it had better be:

On paper, the rules look forbidding, but the longer you spend in Irukaya, the more they make sense.

It’s not a place you go for a caffeine fix. It’s a sanctuary that happens to serve java.

Contrast this with Aisha Speirs’ critique of similar overbearing rules:

Instead of ostentatious barista performances, snobbish service and superfluous branding, small coffee shops should focus on what they are perfectly poised to offer: friendly, local service that will tempt even those with Starbucks loyalty cards.

I find myself agreeing with the intent of Speirs’ critique, even if I don’t agree with her praise of Starbucks (“there’s clearly something to be said for the company’s reliability”). Something that meets in the middle is ideal. The shops I frequent have superlative coffee, without so much pretence.