TOKYO, Japan – PB lab, a new style of shop that just opened this month in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, offers a cup of free coffee for anyone who walks in. The free coffee point is located on a small counter in the corner as soon as you walk in and operates on a self-service honor system.
Setting out free coffee was originally the brainchild of actor, comedian, and author Akihiro Nishino, whose children’s picture book Poupelle of Chimney Town is quite popular. In fact, the woodwork of the counter and detail of the water dispenser were inspired by the whimsical illustrations of Nishino’s fantasy world.
How does the shop make a profit by offering coffee for free? It turns out that the bags are funded by individuals who purchase 50 cups worth of coffee for 10,000 yen.
Part of that fee is donated to Laos, the coffee beans’ country of origin. Anyone can do it, and as the name of the current donor is always displayed behind the coffee packs, it is actually quite a clever marketing tactic for getting your name out there.