Hi it’s Akane. Here’s my new attempt – the very first post in English! I’ve been wanting to make this blog in dual languages (Japanese and English) that everyone on the planet can be accessible.
But in reality, it’s been difficult to make it happen. Because translating is such time-consuming and also due to technical aspects of WordPress. (I’m digging it, still.)
Last weekend I visited Kyoto. It’s one of my favourite city in home country and it was lovely as always. That made me think about the struggle I mentioned earlier – and I thought that, although it’s still difficult to blog in both languages, at least sometimes I could blog in English introducing something I love in Japan. And here we 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 twitting or emailing or whatever way available 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…
Yes, here’s my excuse. I have to squeeze my brain so hard to search right English words to describe what I really want to say. So please be respectful to my tiny brain and if you do so, I really appreciate it 🙂
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 a bunch of tourists from around the world.
The city has a rich heritage from the long history and there are many places worth visiting. Like old castles, temples and shrines as well as small districts for shopping and dining.
Kyoto is also well-known for its strong cafe and coffee culture. Some big coffee company established in Kyoto, including Ogawa Coffee（小川珈琲） and Inoda Coffee（イノダコーヒー）.
New coffee waves in Kyoto
And In the last couple of years, many micro-sized new independent coffee shops have popped up across Kyoto. Each of them has unique concept and standing as their own as if saying ‘no’ to the all-look-the-same commercial coffee chain in Japan.
Their focus is to serve high quality of coffee made by a skilled barista and to introduce a 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, pour-over (filer, drip) coffee and a couple of single origin beans to choose from.
Baristas are educated, knowledgeable about coffee and committed to serve the best quality of the 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 with 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 experience!
A couple of minutes walk from Kyoto Station（京都駅）, This micro-sized coffee shop on a corner of a narrow street serves a couple of single origins on the 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 matches with the colour concept of the cafe – According to a barista.
When you pop into the cafe, friendly baristas welcome you. It was in the morning when I visited, and they greeted every single customer 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 into cafes or restaurants in Japan, you’ll be greeted by waiters in a 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 and relaxing. Wooden counter table and a small plant accentuated the entre room. They have a large selection of coffee equipment 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 from Shinkansen or bus!
|Address||552 Higashiaburano-koji cho
|Phone||+81 75 744 0804|
|Hours||8am - 6pm, Open Daily|
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 sign 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 others – Bamboo leaves makes cosy Zen feel that offering the perfect spot for a small break from sightseeing over a great coffee.
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 I had from the last one year. Subtle flavour with the super fruity note. Great job.
I wanted to have a small treat 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 grabbing something to eat near Nishiki Market（錦市場）.
|Address||560 Honeyanocho,Nakagyo-ku,Kyoto 604-8064 Japan|
|Phone||+81 75 746 2206|
|Hours||7:30am - 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 a long queue. I was a bit sceptical about this(long queue? for coffee? always?), but the rumour was absolutely true – I passed by the cafe twice, and even though it was in the morning when not as busy as the afternoon, it had the queue stretches to the outside in both times.
I started queueing 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). 3 of them were participating the tasks – handling the till, making espresso shot, serving coffee, steaming milk and pouring to make perfect latte art. I had no idea how they evenly handle it. Very impressive.
I ordered a piccolo latte. It’s my favourite coffee but hadn’t had it for quite a long time since I had a last one in New Zealand. I was pretty excited to finally have it again! 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 pretty easy to drink. I guess that’s one of the secret of this cafe makes so popular.
In addition, It was sort of funny to witness the cafe filled with bunch mix of international people wearing pretty kimono for sightseeing or tank top and flop flap backpackers, in both not much common to spot elsewhere in Japan!
|% ARABICA Kyoto Higashiyama|
|Address||87-5 Hoshino-cho, Higashiyama-ku
Kyoto, 605-0853 Japan
|Phone||+81 75 746 3669|
|Hours||8am - 6pm, Open Daily|
Feel the local vibe!
I wish I had more time in Kyoto that I could check more newly opened cafes. Maybe next time!
But don’t get me wrong, those 3 cafes were seriously all awesome in terms of the concept, 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 a high quality coffee experience 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 now somewhere else on the planet! Such a small world we live… especially when it comes to the coffee world.
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