Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 45 of 103

From Hakone, we jumped on the Shinkansen (Japan's high-speed train which can travel anywhere between 240–320 kilometers per hour) and headed to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Unlike Hakone, Kyoto is busy and bustling—it's Japan's ninth biggest city with about 1.5 million residents. Our fi rst coffee stop was Weekenders Coffee in the Nakagyo Ward. Weekenders is tucked into the northwest corner of an empty park- ing lot. You're sort of not sure you found the right place until you walk closer and fi nd baristas behind a beautiful wood bar making pourovers and doling out espresso drinks. This iteration of Weekenders opened in 2017, but the company has been around since 2005, helmed by Ma- sahiro Kaneko. In 2011, Masahiro started roasting his own coffee and eventually moved the café to its current location. The café is small: It resembles a tiny townhouse with barely enough room to stand and order coffee. Patrons put their order in, pay, and then walk out to the usually empty parking lot. If you're lucky, you can snag a seat at the bench just outside the café, which is surrounded by plants and moss. It was unsurprising to see a number of folks taking photos of themselves sipping on their drinks on the bench. Our walk from the hotel to Weekenders was fi lled with architectural sites. Regarded as Japan's cultural capital, Kyoto is full of old build- ings, winding roads, Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines. After a morning jolt at Weekenders, we found ourselves in the Kiyomizu-dera temple, where patrons can drink from one of three waterfalls by way of cups on the ends of long sticks and wish for health and prosperity. Coming out of the park, we saw a familiar site: a wooden sign with the Blue Bottle logo. Based in Oakland, Calif., Blue Bottle has 12 stores in Japan—10 in Tokyo, one in nearby Kobe, and we happened to stumble onto the one in Kyoto. The café was busy with tourists who had just visited the shrines, and at least 10 baristas buzzed behind the counter, executing drinks from a very similar menu as one you'd fi nd in Blue Bottle's Stateside cafés. What was different from what I'd seen in the States, however, was the lightness of the space—it was prettier than any Blue Bottle I'd seen before. On a whim, we went to Osaka for the day, about 30 minutes from Kyoto. We'd heard of a place serving up some of the best okonomiyaki, which is a savory pancake usually cooked in front of you with assorted items like pork or seafood. On the way, we hit a strip of downtown that seemed to be fi lled with specialty shop after specialty shop. A line out the door signaled Moto Coffee, and we saw another familiar friend in Brooklyn Roasting Works before landing at Embankment Coffee. Pretty much every coffee shop we visited in all of Japan was stunning, and Embankment was no exception. It's what you imagine a cool library would look like, with wooden seats, magazines scattered around, and a quiet, relaxed vibe. The café is situated right on the O Clockwise from le : A barista pours a la e at Blue Bo le Coff ee in Kyoto. Every Blue Bo le we visited in Japan was bustling and beautifully designed. This Blue Bo le was situated on the Nanzen-in park and temple. A Slayer at Walden Woods is just one of countless custom-designed machines found throughout Japan. A collection of swag at Verve Coff ee in Tokyo's Shinjuku train station, the busiest station in Japan. 46 barista magazine

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