For someone who doesn’t drink coffee I had my share in Japan. The coffee scene is on fiah and the attention to detail makes the experience so much more special. A few coffee (and tea!) explorations to follow. My favorites were the spots with coordinating tiny treats.
& Coffee by Maison Kayser was one of our first stops. Hubby had an espresso; I had a lavender milk tea. We also ordered a pain du chocolate and our beverages came with little chocolate treats. It was quiet when we arrived (before 8AM on a Saturday). This was our in-between spot after sushi breakfast and before Itoya shopping.
We heard about the Toyko Coffee Festival from a local magazine ~ I like to pick those up from airports; sometimes you get lucky with ideas. En route, we ran into a cousin-in-law who at the time lived in San Diego – so random! So we all tasted cups of brew together. There were over a dozen coffee vendors, mostly from the Tokyo/Kyoto area, but also a few international brands. We chose the ‘mini cup’ tasting which came with four tastings of choice plus the mini cup souvenir. Hubby and I teamed up so we tried eight tastes all the together. I didn’t get jittery – it must have been the jet-lag neutralizing effect. (That’s a thing.) There were also food vendors, chocolate shops, and a mobile book store.
On one of our neighborhood explorations I spotted a tea shop. (Or did the tea shop find me?) Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea (which I later learned has locations all over the world including one within five miles of my apartment!) has some tasty beverages! We tried the oolong tea (50% sweet) with grass jelly. It might have been my first time having grass jelly – I am hooked.
We hung out at Camera Coffee while waiting for our inks. It’s a cafe plus leather goods shop. How fun! (Also, did I mention how much I love the Kuramae neighborhood in Tokyo?) Hubby had mango juice; I had a green smoothie because I don’t get enough veggies on vacay. Camera even had gashapon surprise balls – I love surprises! Of course I got one. Inside: a leather key cover. Fancy! Fun fact from Wikipedia: “gashapon is onomatopoeic from the two sounds gasha for the hand-cranking action of a toy-vending machine, and pon for the toy capsule landing in the collection tray.”
Then the tininess of Japan continued at Beck’s in Nagano. We shared an iced matcha latte and an iced royal milk tea. Hubby is pictured for scale. One slurp and done.
Also in Nagano, Hubby spotted Maruyama. It’s a small cafe with an old/classic cafe vibe. Hubby had an espresso and cappuccino set. I had the flower hamming seasonal blend made with a French press and served with a lump and a half of brown sugar and a splash of milk. It was the best tasting cup of coffee I’ve ever had! We bought a bag of the beans so Hubby could recreate the experience for me at home. Thanks, Hubby!
With our beverages we also had the maple nut tart and a mochi treat. We had been looking for mochi treats and this was the most amazing one I’ve ever had. It was tiny and delicate and just the right amount of sweet, with the right amount of tender chewiness. Perfection with my coffee.
% Coffee was another one of our in between places place. I picked this cafe for after the bamboo grove and before our tofu adventure. I love it so much here! It’s a tiny shop that overlooks the Katsura River. There’s bench seating on the lower level and a private patio you can rent by the half hour. Heck yeah! Gimme some of that private patio! I convinced Hubby we should rent it because YOLO. It was so peaceful. It was lovely to sit, enjoy the view, sip on bevvies, and do some journaling. I want one.
We both tried iced caffe lattes – his with soy; mine with almond milk. For round two on the patio he tried the espresso macchiato and I had a sparkling lemonade. Hubby enjoyed watching the barista’s precision when making coffee.
We initially tried to have Ippodo in Tokyo, but they didn’t have snacks so we left. Also, they are originally from Kyoto and I’m big on experiencing brands in their home cities, so we went to Ippodo HQ in Kyoto!
Hubby got a lesson on how to brew sencha and each of our tea orders came with a tiny treats. Hubby ordered the kuki sencha with the ‘hard’ treat and I had the kyogoku-no-mukashi matcha with the ‘soft’ treat. The hard treat was a trio of cookies; the soft treat was mochi. The treats paired perfectly with our teas. And we felt rejuvenated after some time in the tea house.
We stayed at Moxy for our last night in Tokyo. They had a fancy coffee menu. I tried the chocolate matcha macchiato. OMG so good. Also, I had it at night and I was fine. I think maybe there is no caffeine in Japanese coffee. 🙂
Other assorted finds: a burger shop served iced Earl Grey with itty bitty simple syrup and milk containers (Yes we got burgers in Japan because we missed fries), Family Mart milk tea with tapioca from the drink aisle, a green tea shop’s iced matcha latte and matcha jelly things, Wendy’s boba (which was probably just milk with flavored syrup – don’t do it!), and airport cafe bevvies….
How do you coffee abroad? Share your fave international coffee encounters below!