Starbucks has really blown up in Japan since its first store arrived in Tokyo’s boogie shopping district, Ginza, all the way back in 1996. Since then, well over 1,000 other Starbucks stores have popped up all over the country – allowing Starbucks’ Japan branch to embrace its own unique identity and following. In fact, Japan is actually home to the world’s largest Starbucks!
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery located in Tokyo’s Nakameguro district features 4 unique floors and an impressive 32,000 square feet of space! (That’s 2,966 sq. meters!) Designed by legendary Japanese architect Kengo Kuma – who’s more widely known for designing the host stadium for the Tokyo 2020 olympics, the awe-inspiring complex is designed to be a complete and immersive coffee experience.
Besides insanely ambitious complexes dedicated to the craft and culture of everyone’s favorite caffeinated beverage, the coffee chain is most well known for it’s seasonal drinks, mugs, cups and tumblers that are only offered for a limited time to celebrate the coming and going of seasons and other special occasions. In the past, cherry blossom themed Sakura Frappuccino drinks, as well as year-round staples like green tea frappuccinos and pastries have kept lovers of all things coffee coming back for more!
This month, Starbucks Japan is celebrating the warm and cozy vibes of fall with their signature Daigaku Imo Frappuccino! Japanese sweet potato comes into season just as Autumn begins, and this particular drink is inspired by the traditional snack of the same name, which literally means “college potato” in English. It sounds a little odd when you put it like that, but deep fried sweet potatoes covered in a sweet, syrupy coating became quite a popular snack for college students all the way back in the early 1900’s. They’re filling, inexpensive, and have a very satisfying sweet and savory flavor that really hits the spot after a long day of class!
Nowadays, Daigaku Imo is less of a college-necessity and more of a seasonal treat that comes around for festivals every fall – and now – it’s in frappuccino form, too! Starbucks went all in on the seasonal fall flavors, using real sweet potato puree as the base. Each sip has a different textural experience, as you get little bits of soft sweet potato mixed in with the smooth, creamy puree. The drink also has a creamy marshmallow-esque flavor that goes nicely with its luxurious texture.
“Sweet Potato Syrup”, which tastes a lot like maple syrup, is drizzled into the drink itself as well as on top of a fluffy peak of whipped cream, which is all topped off with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds that bring the whole drink together with just a hint of pleasant bitterness and a touch of color. This frap’ is literally Japanese Fall in a cup!
Of course, once you’ve finished your seasonal drink, (which won’t take long, let’s be honest), it’s gone for good. That’s okay though – because Starbucks Japan has tons of awesome limited edition merchandise that you can collect and enjoy at home!
Far the autumn season, Starbucks Japan has rolled out the next addition to their “You Are Here” collection. The You Are Here Autumn mug celebrates the stunning visuals of Japanese Autumn. The design features Mt. Fuji, red, orange, and yellow maple leaves and Chureito Pagoda, the iconic traditional structure most famous for it’s stunning view of Mount Fuji during cherry blossom season.
Both the Daigaku Imo frappuccino and You Are Here mug are only available in Starbucks stores for a limited time, so just like the beautiful colored leaves of autumn, they’ll be gone before you know it! But don’t worry – you can get your own You Are Here mug when you sign up for a 12-month TokyoTreat plan! Kick back with your favorite coffee and travel to Japan from home!
Do you guys have limited edition drinks and merch at your local Starbucks? Let us know in the comments down below!