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A “Japan-quality” matcha café opens in San Francisco

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A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit... A “Japan-qualit...
By Elli Sekine

In the Mission District of San Francisco, which is known as the base of cutting-edge food and beverages, start-up entrepreneurs and invested money of Silicon Valley always link together, and new restaurants and cafes have been opening one after another. This is also the place where much-talked-about food and beverages such as the third wave of coffee, the third wave of chocolate, and Tartine Bakery started. One day, this May, the “Stonemill Matcha” cafe opened for the first time ever in the world by a Japanese entrepreneur.

There, a brand-new type of highest quality matcha and Japan-originated dessert-making techniques are united.

This café is the succession of a restaurant bar, “Bar Tartine”, which was the second establishment of “Tartine”, the very popular bakery in SF. Ever since its opening was announced, this cafe has attracted a great deal of attention from the food and drink industry. Many people had huge expectations due to the brand-image left from the former popular place. However, its opening reception day turned out to be the day everybody had to admit its excellent quality which was beyond expectations. In the past year, matcha serving cafes have become a big hit in San Francisco. But, most of those cafes specialize in sweets such as ice cream. On the other hand, a store that specializes in serving infused matcha called “Samovar Tea Bar” which opened 3 years ago in the same Mission District, has also become hugely popular. Yet, the Japanese tea has only been a small part of the tea culture scene along with other teas such as Chinese tea and Western tea. “Stonemill Matcha”, however, is a matcha specialty store by Japanese.

Mr. Eijiro Tsukada, Founder/CEO of “Stonemill Matcha Inc.” is the mastermind behind it. He mastered in the study of tea in Kyoto, studied international businesses in both Japan and the US, and then founded this company. He said about its opening: “I aimed for an ultimate matcha business that no one in this world has accomplished yet.” A matcha business, which can be called the compilation of such idea, opened stately in the Mission District, invested by multiple corporations including Japanese companies. “Matcha has been recognized in the US, but mainly in the form of soft serve ice cream, etc., and people might have thought that it would be difficult to infuse and serve properly at home. I am hoping that this café will be the trigger for Americans to know more variations of matcha, and enjoy it easily at home,” Mr. Tsukada said. He also said that he wants to keep informing the nutrients and health benefits of matcha intently. Looking at the attractive and unique menus makes you want to try everything on them.

The spacious interior space, where tradition and modernism unite, is decorated with Japanese old house–themed decorations throughout, which provide warm tones using high quality wooden materials, and bring out a classy and relaxing ambience. The ceramic dishes used are hand-made originals by a local artist, and are effective in providing stylish tea time experiences. In the back, a real stone mill, symbolic to “Stonemill Matcha”, is displayed, and represents the deep Japanese food culture.

The tea menu includes only the Japanese tea using tea leaves from Kyoto’s tea farmers/producers. The menu consists of a wide variety of tea. Besides matcha, it includes sencha, hoji-cha, etc. The most popular drinks are Matcha Latte ($5), Ginger Matcha Latte ($5.50), and Cold Brew ($4.50). You can have latte drinks either hot or cold. There is even a unique drink called “Matcha Spritzer”, in which matcha and carbonated water are mixed together. You can also get advice from knowledgeable staff members as to how to infuse Japanese tea correctly, and the installed cutting-edge tea infusion machine produces tea with the best possible temperature and in the best possible steamed state for serving. The desserts and light meals menus are also richly varied, and contain pastries, cream puffs, and Japan-quality original cakes that are made by a collaboration with Tartine. Among them, matcha croissants and roll cakes are especially popular. On the light meals menu, there are cutlet sandwiches ($14), chicken okayu (rice gruel) ($13), matcha chazuke ($16), etc., and the cutlet sandwiches seem to have captured the American appetite particularly among them.

Knowledge and spirit of matcha have been thrown in throughout this place, in the menus, the way the place has been constructed, and even in the services. There is also even an authentic tea ceremony room, where they plan to have regular workshops and tea ceremonies in the future. Mr. Tsukada expressed his desire passionately to spread this business model from San Francisco to all over the US. “Stonemill Matcha” is already well supported by the Mission District foodies, and branding has been successfull. The “Matcha life” looks very much likely to permeate into their lifestyle soon.


“ジャパンクオリティー”抹茶カフェがサンフランシスコにオープン!!

先端の飲食発信基地として知られるミッション地区では、飲食起業家のアイディアと投資マネーが連携し、次々と新しいレストランやカフェを創出している。サードウェーブコーヒーやスモールバッチチョコレート、オーガニックべーカリーなどの話題の飲食もここが発祥の地。先日5 月、日本人起業家による福寿園の抹茶を使った最先端の抹茶カフェ、「Stonemill Matcha」がオープンした。

 SFで一番人気のべーカリー、「Tartine」系列のレストラン、「BarTartine」 の後継となる同店は、オープンの告知がされて以来、飲食業界から多大な注目を集めていた。元人気店に残されたブランドイメージに期待する声は多い。しかしその期待以上に、先日行われたオープニングレセプションでは、誰もがその品質の高さを認めた日となった。

SF ではこの一年、「抹茶」カフェが大流行中。しかしそのほとんどはアイスクーム店などのスイーツが中心となっている。一方、抹茶を煎じて飲ませる店として3 年前に同じくミッション地区にオープンしたお茶専門店の「Samovar TeaBar」が大人気店となったが、日本茶の存在は中国茶や西洋茶と並ぶ一部としてでしかなかった。「Stonemill Matcha」は、“ジャパンクオリティー”の抹茶専門店だ。

仕掛け人は、Stonemill Matcha Inc.の創業者でCEO の塚田英次郎氏。同氏は 京都で茶学を習得し、某大手企業に勤めながら京都で茶学を習得し、国際ビジネスを日本とアメリカで学び、この度同社を立上げた。今回のオープンについて、「世界でまだ誰もがやってない究極の抹茶ビジネスを目指しました」と同氏。その集大成といえる抹茶ビジネスは、日本企業を含む複数の企業からの投資を受け、ミッション地区に堂々のオープンを果たした。「抹茶は今までアメリカで認知されていましたが主にソフトクリームなどで、家庭で煎じるのは難しいという先入観があったと思います。カフェのオープンが、もっとアメリカ人が抹茶のバリエーションを知り、気軽に家庭で楽めるきっかけになれば良いと思います」と塚田氏は、抹茶に含まれる栄養素や健康的な面も強調していきたいと語る。そのメニューを見れば誰もが試してみたくなるユニークで魅力的な内容だ。

伝統とモダンが融合する広い店内は、上質な木材を使った暖かいトーンに京都の古民家をイメージした和テイストの装飾が散りばめられ、上品で落ち着いた雰囲気を醸し出している。使用する陶器は、地元作家による手作り感溢れるオリジナルで、おしゃれなティータイムが楽しめる。奥には「Stonemill Matcha」のシンボルとなる石臼の展示が奥深い日本の食文化をアピールしている。

お茶メニューは、福寿園の茶葉を使用。抹茶の他に煎茶、ほうじ茶などバリエーション豊富。人気ドリンクは抹茶ラテ($5.00)、ジンジャー抹茶ラテ($5.50)、コールドブリュー($4.50)で、ラテはホット、アイスを選べる。中には「抹茶スピリッツア」など抹茶と炭酸をミクスしたユニークなドリンクも揃う。また、十分な知識を持ったスタッフが日本茶の正しい煎れ方と美味しい飲み方などのアドバイスをくれたり、先端の茶抽出機を導入し、温度調整や蒸しもベストな状態で出てくる。また、ペストリーとデザートメニューは、Tartine とのコラボしたペストリー、クリームパフ、オリジナルケーキ類など種類豊富で、特に抹茶クロワッサン、ロールケーキが人気。軽食メニューには、カツサンド($14)、チキンおかゆ($13)、抹茶茶漬け($16)などが揃い、その中でもカツサンドはすでにアメリカ人の胃袋を掴んでいるようだ。

同店は、店づくりからサービスに至るまで抹茶の知識とスピリットが投入されている。さらには本格的なお茶室も完備し、定期的にワークショップやティーセレモニーも行う予定だ。今後の展開について塚田氏は、このビジネスモデルSF から全米へ、やがて世界へと発信していきたいと意気込みを表した。すでに「Stonemill Matcha」は、フーディーなミッションの地元客に支持され、抹茶がライフスタイルに溶け込みそうな勢いだ。



Stonemill Matcha
561 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
https://stonemillmatcha.com/
8:00am-6:00pm
7days open
#alljapannews #matcha #cafe #SF #dessert #okayu #Japan #quality #StonemillMatcha

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