3 Coffee Shops to Visit While You’re Wandering in Kyoto

Kyoto is not only the old capital in Japan but the coffee capital in modern world!

Hi it’s Akane. This post is the new attempt – my very first post in English! I’ve been wanting to make this blog in dual languages, Japanese and English that everyone on the planet (Including my non-Japanese friends)will be accessible.

But in reality it’s difficult to make it happen – because of the time to spend on translating and also technical aspects on WordPress(I’m digging it, still).

 

The last weekend I visited Kyoto. It’s one of my favorite city in my home country and it was lovely as always. That made me think about the issue I  mentioned earlier – and I thought that, although it’s still difficult to blogging in both languages, at least I could blogging in English sometimes introducing something I love about Japan. And here I go – I brought it to life!

 

Please note: I must make loads of mistakes in grammar and spelling. But please be patient and don’t too picky about it as long as you can enjoy the contents! Otherwise, please kindly drop me a line by twitter or email or whatever convenient for you, saying [this sentence doesn’t make sense] [I can’t get this line] or [go back to the language school].

I wouldn’t want to receive messages like the later one though…

Because I have to squeeze my brain so hard searching right English words to describe what I really want to say. So please be respectful for my tiny brain and if you do so, I really appreciate it! 🙂

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Kyoto – old capital and recent coffee capital

As many of you know, Kyoto(京都) is the old capital city of Japan. In modern times It’s very busy city and always filled with bunch of tourists from around the world.

The city has rich heritage from the long history and there’s loads places worth visiting. Like old castles, temples and shrines as well as small districts where  famous for shopping and dining.

Kyoto is also well-known for its strong cafe and coffee culture and some big coffee company established in Kyoto, like Ogawa Coffee(小川珈琲) and Inoda Coffee(イノダコーヒー).

 

New coffee waves in Kyoto

Feel the vibe of authentic Japanese old capital

 

And In the last couple of years, many micro-sized new independent coffee shops has popped up across Kyoto. Each of them have unique concept and standing as their own as if saying ‘no’ to the all-look-the-same commercial coffee scene in Japan.

Their focus is to serve high quality of coffee made by skilled barista, and to introduce meaningful way to enjoy coffee to the customers. This philosophy is strongly influenced by third-wave coffee culture from California, which originated from Japanese classic-style cafe called Kissa-Ten(喫茶店).

 

They offer espresso based drinks and pour-over (filer, drip) coffee and couple of single origin beans to choose from.

Baristas are educated, knowledgeable about coffee and committed to serve best quality of cup. They are friendly and helpful to decide the coffee menu if you’re unsure what to order and what coffee origin to choose from.

 

This time, I visited three coffee shops by recommendations from my barista friends – there were more on my list actually, but my time was strictly limited at this time so I chose only the three. And it all came out awesome! So I’ll share about them one by one.

Kurasu Kyoto

Couple of mints walk from Kyoto Station(京都駅), This micro-sized coffee shop on a corner of a narrow street serves couple of single origins on filter and a blend on espresso drinks made with La marzocco Linea staying in front of the entrance door.

This stylish dude painted in matte black has passed over from owner’s friend as the body colour perfectly match with the colour concept of the cafe – According to a barista.

Kurasu Kyoto offers two single origins for pour-over and a blend for espresso

 

When you pop in to the cafe, friendly baristas welcoming you. It was in the morning when I visited, and they greeted every single customers when they came in and out – in very friendly manner.

In Japanese we say ‘Konnichiwa(こんにちは)’ as ‘Hi there’, and ‘Itte-rasshai’(いってらっしゃい) as ‘Have a nice day’. It was impressive because normally when you come in to cafes or restaurants in Japan, you’ll be greeted from waiters in polite manner. They say ‘Irasshaimase(いらっしゃいませ)’ as greeting like welcome, and ‘Arigatou gozaimashita(ありがとうございました)’ as ‘thank you very much!’. It’s absolutely common phrase in Japan however those makes a gap between us. But in this cafe it won’t happen – I felt that they’re trying to not to make a gap between us but be friendly. Just like a cafe in Australia.

 

The Interior was very simple yet relaxing. Wooden counter table and a small plant accentuated the room. They have large selection of coffee equipments and related items you can purchase.

Baristas were lovely and chatting, I enjoyed not only the coffee but their company as well. That’s the place you must go for proper caffeine fix after a long trip or Shinkansen arriving in Kyoto Station.

Kurasu Kyoto
Address552 Higashiaburano-koji cho
Kyoto, Japan
Phone+81 75 744 0804
Hours8am - 6pm, Open Daily

Weekenders Coffee

Weekenders Coffee is lovely Machiya style coffee shop on a corner of a car park

Tucked away from a street stretching horizontally between bustling Kawaramachi Station(河原町駅) and Kyoto Kuyakusyo-Mae Station(京都区役所前), this tiny coffee spot has its special form as traditional Japanese style house called ‘Machiya(町家)’.

It located on an end corner of a car park along Tominokoji-Dori(富小路通). There was no sigh directing to the place so you might miss it unless you keep tracking the exact location on Google Map. (I passed through many times even I was tracking it on the app!)

 

The atmosphere of this place was standing out from any other coffee shops – Bamboo leafs makes cozy Zen feel that offering perfect spot for small break from sightseeing or shopping over a great coffee.

 

Barista making two pour-over coffees while handling other customers (multitasking)

I had today’s special beans pour-over coffee, I think it was Ethiopia (My memory was a bit blur) and It was just an amazing! One of the best during the last one year. Subtle flavour with super fruity note. Great job.

 

I wanted to have a small treats with the coffee that might enhance the experience but they didn’t offer any snacks at that time. Just so you know.

Instead, I recommend to grab something to eat in near Nishiki Market(錦市場).

Weekenders Cofee
Address560 Honeyanocho,Nakagyo-ku,Kyoto 604-8064 Japan
Phone+81 75 746 2206
Hours7:30am - 6pm, Closed Wednesdays

100% ARABICA Kyoto

100% Arabica is probably the most world-wildly known coffee roaster from Kyoto. They have 3 locations within the city and I visited the most touristy one – in Yasaka Dori(八坂通), on the way of one of the busiest tourist district in Kyoto called Higashiyama(東山).

I’d heard that the cafe is always busy and has long queue. I was bit skeptical about this(long queue? for coffee? always?), but the rumor was absolutely true – I passed by the cafe twice, and even though it was in the morning when less busier than the afternoon, it had the queue stretches to the outside in both times.

 

3 heads Slayer espresso machine at 100% Arabica Kyoto is always full on

So I gave up and queued, but it didn’t take that long to reach the till. The cafe was full on but 3 baristas were working together really closely as if playing a perfect unison (seriously). Everyone was participating the tasks – handle the till, make espresso shot, serve coffee, steam milk and pour to make perfect latte art. I had no idea how they evenly handle it. Very impressive.

 

I ordered a piccolo latte which is my favorite menu but hadn’t had it for quite a long time since I had a last one in New Zealand. So I was pretty excited to have it in Japan! Although It came out as slightly bigger size than I expected (6-8oz?), the taste was great. The espresso perfectly goes well with silky steamed milk and it’s easy to drink for everyone. I guess that’s one of the secret of this cafe makes so populer.

They use only high-quality of coffee beans

 

In addition, It was sort of funny to witness the cafe filled with bunch mix of international people wearing pretty kimono for sightseeing and tank top and flop flap backpackers, in both not much common to spot elesewhere in Japan!

% ARABICA Kyoto Higashiyama
Address87-5 Hoshino-cho, Higashiyama-ku
Kyoto, 605-0853 Japan
Phone+81 75 746 3669
Hours8am - 6pm, Open Daily

Feel the local vibe!

I wish I had more time in Kyoto that I could check more newly opened cafes. Next time!

But don’t get me wrong, those 3 cafes were seriously all awesome – in terms of the comcept, atmosphere and quality.

I highly recommend to visit those cafes if you want to feel the local vibe, chat with baristas (they speak English) and have high quality of coffee while you’re in Kyoto.

 

The funny thing was that: I chatted with baristas and it came out that two of them are friends of two of my friends, they’re also baristas and I met them while I was in overseas and they are in somewhere else in the planet! Such a small world we live, especially when it comes to coffee world.

 


 

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