“Japanese style coffee shop owners create the best moment for the most beautiful coffee,” Mr Toshiro Sano, a member of Kumamoto coffee club proudly tells me. It is typical Japanese Style to thoroughly research the origin of coffee beans, as well as the degree of roasting, milling, extraction temperature, design of coffee cups and even the atmosphere of the shop. After the world's first coffee house was established in Turkey in the 15th century, many countries established their own style of coffee, such as the espresso served in the bar in Italy, drip coffee at dinner in the United States as well as the sweet rich taste of Vietnamese Coffee. These days there is a movement for Japanese style coffee to be spread around the world. The Japan Coffee Society actively drives the study of coffee culture & history as well as establishing a social network for coffee lovers. At the time of writing they are planning a workshop called “Appreciating coffees in Kumamoto” in December.
I had the opportunity to go to Okada Coffee to experience Japanese style coffee in Kamitori in central Kumamoto. Established in 1945, the coffee house is rich in history. The mood lighting set in a dark brown coordinated interior, as well as the soothing notes of jazz music creates a mature and sophisticated space.
From their quiet appreciation, you can tell that the customers here take the time to enjoy coffee. My mother tasted their drip coffee and said, “really great”. She loves coffee and shared the story of her time in high school when she went to coffee shop, taking on the airs of a mature woman. My cappuccino looks like Vienna coffee with a cinnamon stick, the rich milky taste lifted by subtleness of spice. Even people who are not used to coffee would like it. It was accompanied by Mont Blanc cake, being the harvest season for chestnuts. It had an interesting combination with crunchy meringue contrasting with the thickness of creamed chestnuts. It was a very relaxing time away from a normally hectic schedule.
Coming down from the upstairs dining area, you can see the shop filled with coffee beans, various coffee making equipment as well as the cakes. The aroma from coffee beans is irresistible. They have many kinds of coffee beans from all over the world, each accompanied by the kind of detailed explanation that would satisfy the most discerning connoisseur. I was most impressed by the variety of coffee equipment on display, including the cups, pots and coffee mill. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the Napoleon raisin pastry on sale, as I ate at lot of it back in my childhood; proof that Okada Coffee is a good baker as well. My mother was so taken back by the Mont Blanc cake that she purchased a few more pieces to take home.
Okada Coffee has several shops in Kumamoto as well as Singapore and they are a worthy ambassador of Japanese style coffee both inside and outside of Japan.