Brooklyn Roasting Company Ōsaka

Conveniently located in Kitahama (北浜) is another great kissaten (喫茶店 : coffee shop) that I had the good fortune to stumble upon the other day.

The interior is stripped back. Cement walls, floor & ceiling give it a raw and exposed air of hip confidence.

The music is a little funky and obscure yet as inviting as the comfortable chairs and leather sofas that other patrons are reclining in as they read, write, meet and relax.

Bar stools are scattered around modern timber tables, one with a few stylish plants adorning it, probably courtesy of the adjoining florist: bois de gui (lit. mistletoe wood).

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There’s seating for over 30 although the entire space (inside and out) could probably host a small cocktail party of 60+.

Along the walls are shelves and boxes containing zasshi (雑誌: magazines), a small coffee machine, a skateboard, and an espresso tamper. There are also products for sale including books, t-shirts, coffee beans (コーヒー豆) and similar related items.

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Wi-fi is advertised on a small card attached to one wall but I’m unable to login.

Outside is a large 3m x 10m area with seating for about 20 people. It overlooks the canal called the Tosabori-gawa (土佐堀川) towards the Museum of Oriental Ceramics on the opposite shore.

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The ivy clad walls are unassuming and rustic, softening the harshness of the grey, cement walls. The verdant green of the new shoots adds a gentle touch of friendliness.

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I order a cappuccino, similar to an Australian flat-white when made by a coffee shop like this in Japan. Needless to say it’s excellent. I can easily compare it to the quality of Bar ISTA, another favourite in Ōsaka, sans the kawaii (かわいい : cute) latte art.

My late afternoon arrival sees a few customers drinking beer (ビール), specifically an Irish pale ale (my preferred style of beer) called McSorley’s

An interesting aside is that one of the baristas is from Senegal of all places: a tiny West African republic that was once colonised by the French.

The heat of the day is starting to dissipate and a light breeze is blowing. The balcony’s northerly aspect means it doesn’t cop the brunt of the afternoon sun which is a bonus.

As I extend my stay to include one of the aforementioned cold beverages I notice too they sell assorted pastries and Mast Brothers Chocolate. Mmmmm!

This place definitely deserves future visits.

www.brooklynroasting.com

Mon to Fri: 8am8pm
Sat, Sun & holidays: 10am7pm

Kim*

Streamer Espresso Ōsaka | 2

What makes a good coffee shop – a café, a kissaten (喫茶店: きっさてん) – great?

Lifting it far above its counterparts to become a favourite?

Is it the coffee beans (コーヒー豆) they use?

The way they combine those beans (豆: まめ) in the process of selecting, blending, roasting, grinding, tamping, extracting and pouring?

Maybe it’s their stylish latte art?

And the suave ambience of the premises?

Or perhaps the friendly baristas and other staff serving behind the counter who bring a smile to your face with a simple “good morning” (「お早う: おはよう」)?

I would like to think it’s a combination of all-of-the-above. And then some.

After all. There are innumerable kissaten between where I’m staying in Ōsaka and the humble dispenser of pure coffee joy at the end of my “yellow-brick road”.

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Each and every day (毎日: まいにち) I traverse the great divide between Kitashinchi (北参道) in the north and Minamihori (南堀江) in the south.

A 3km45 minutes each-way – trek through the labyrinthine concrete jungle offering up countless alternatives to my intended destination.

Yet none have ever seriously tempted me.

None have drawn me away with their siren calls.

Their whispered offers of cool, crisp airconditioning and plush, comfy sofas and a foreshortened journey to ease my discomfort.

All very alluring in this oppressive, sweltering heat & humidity (蒸し暑い: むしあつい) of summer (夏: なつ).

For what they try to pass off as coffee is – quite literally – rubbish.

Insipid. Weak. Tasteless.

However, the prospect of a hot brew created with a deft hand and loving tenderness still needs more.

Why? Because we are incredibly adaptable creatures.

Easily convincing ourselves that what we’re consuming is quite alright. It’ll do. Close enough is good enough.

But more what?

“… ay, there’s the rub” Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 1

I reckon it’s the people.

Ultimately we’re all looking to connect.

Establish bonds. Cultivate relationships. Forge friendships. No matter how subtle or complex they might become.

And that happens best when there’s a common interest.

In this case, it’s an appreciation of fine coffee.

Once the foundation is established it becomes easy to build upon it.

The structures of shared experiences and insights pieced together like a LEGO set.

The bricks building up one upon another until there exists an interwoven mesh.

The multi-coloured layers forming a latticework of memories and emotions.

Now perhaps I’m ascribing too much to a band of rogues I hardly know.

Yet daily contact and a constant supply of caffeine is as helpful to me as their frequent provision of linguistic tutelage and recommendations of travel photography assignments.

What’s more, I’ve had the pleasure (快: かい) of meeting many other interesting folk in the hallowed confines of this mecca.

Photographers. Models. A masseuse.

Humble shop assistants. Proud business owners.

Locals and foreigners (外人: がいじん) alike.

So I ask you: “What more could one ask for?”

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Streamer Espresso Ōsaka is quite simply an oasis of comfortable familiarity in a desert of abject solitude.

Kim*

Link

I decide to stray from my regular haunts and try some drip coffee instead of my standard espresso.

I’d read about a café called Link on a website and figured it deserved closer inspection.

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It’s easy to miss, located in the backstreets near Dōtonbori at 1-13-19 NTビル1F Higashishinsaibashi, Ōsaka.

On entering the premises I’m immediately impressed by the modern yet warm surroundings.

Shades of brown (yes, not grey) dominate. Timber and suede.

There’s soft, comfortable seating for about 18 people at both tables and a long counter bench.

They appear to take their coffee seriously. In the style of Café de l’Ambre in Ginza. Though perhaps with not quite the same obsession.

Jars and jars of coffee beans sit neatly in alcoves on one wall.

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A separate “roaster’s room” provides them with the facility to freshly roast beans and thus create their own “homemade” blends.

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The menu provides a range of bitterness strengths (strong, medium, light and soft). About 16 to select from all up: Columbia (コロンビア), Peru (ペルー), Kenya (ケニア), Kilimanjaro (キリマンジャロ), just to name a few.

I choose to play-it-safe and order their “LINK blend” (ブレンド).

It’s perfect! Just the right balance of acidity and flavour.

And sweet enough that it needs no sugar. Always a good sign.

The music playing is quiet and gentle: easy listening yet soulful.

Desserts and light meals can also be purchased. Although perhaps another time, as I’ll definitely return to sample some of the other beans on offer.

Mind you, I still prefer espresso. But this place does make a very nice change.

Kim*

www.linkcoffee.jp

Bar ISTA

Another excellent kissaten (喫茶店: coffee shop) in Ōsaka is Bar ISTA.

In the same general area as Dōtonbori but a few streets off the main drag and thus in a much quieter part of town, this small hole-in-the-wall has a warm, cozy and very friendly vibe to it.

The proprietor, Fumiaki Nozato (野里史眧), does more than just brew a great brew. He creates art: latte art!

He is so talented that not only did he win a competition a few years back but now he teaches wannabe baristas how to do the same.

I suppose when latte artistry is of such a high standard it’s easy for the recipient to be dazzled so that the kōhī (コーヒー: coffee) is of secondary importance.

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But not at Bar ISTA. The coffee is superb. As good as any I’ve had in Japan.

And the set-menu of pasta + coffee at lunch for ¥900 is a bargain.

As is often the case with shops like his, there are knick knacks decorating the premises: kawaii neko (cute cats), a jar full of corks, objects made from twisted wire, coffee beans (of course), a wind-up chattering-teeth toy, and chain links.

I’m sure they all have some significance and perhaps I’ll find out over time.

At night, the shop lives up to it’s clever name and becomes a (バー: bar).

I return in the evening and as I enter the ongaku (音楽: music) playing is mellow: Jack Johnston. Setting the mood and creating just the right atmosphere.

I sit down to enjoy Shiraz by the glass. But there’s also Heartland beer on-tap and various liqueurs.

What’s more, an assortment of dishes are available at very reasonable prices.

My pasta with a cream sauce, yasai (野菜: vegetables) and buta niku (豚肉: bacon) is oishii (delicious).

Later the music becomes more up-tempo. Yes, it’s jazz, although with a little more energy than what I’ve been hearing in other places.

I can see myself returning here many, many more times before I depart.

Kim*

Cafe Contempo

On the advice of a friend I decided to try out another café. He said he liked it so much he got a job there.

It’s located in Orange Street, across the road from Ippudo where I ate yesterday, and literally a few blocks from Streamer Espresso.

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Yet unlike Streamer Espresso, this place has lots of chairs & tables. Quite a few in fact. Which is unusual by Japanese standards unless you’re in one of the large chains like Starbucks, Doutor, Tully’s or the like.

They also have light food such as muffins & cookies (although sadly they’re pre-packaged and not freshly baked), apple pie as a winter special, and chocolates.

Importantly, the coffee is good. Yet I would insist that Streamer Espresso is definitely better.

However, if you need a place to sit and chat, study or simply read a book then Cafe Contempo offers a more practical solution given it’s set-up.

It even has a large, separate room for the smokers!

The music is relaxed: jazz, of course.

And the decor is, well, contemporary. Coffee art of one sort or another adorns the walls.

I like the place. Please don’t get me wrong. I just don’t love it.

Perhaps there’s something about the intimacy of smaller, less populated café’s?

A coziness that comes from rubbing shoulders with other patrons?

And personality: both that of the venue as well as the barista(s)?

My next taste-test will be Bar Ista for this very reason.

Stay tuned!

Kim*

Streamer Espresso Ōsaka | 1

Having arrived in Ōsaka only yesterday my first call-of-duty is to find good coffee. No, make that great coffee.

You see, Ōsaka has a reputation for amazing food and if their dedication to the culinary arts is anything to go by then it makes sense that it would extend to the making of espresso.

So after some Google searching I came across a user-based review website listing two cafés in Ōsaka.

Both scored well by the reviewers. And both are within reasonable walking distance from where I’m staying (less than 1 hour: I tend to do a lot of walking in Japan).

Streamer Espresso is marginally closer so it’s my first port-of-call.

Located at 1-25-12 Minamihorie Nishi-ku Osaka in MAXX Department Stores lends it a stylish atmosphere: men’s and women’s dressy casual clothing that looks hip yet understated at first glance.

This also gives the premises a more open feeling unlike many pokey cafés I’ve come across.

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The music playing is modern yet anything but pop. More a blend of hard rock and jazz. Mellow yet edgy. All sung in English, of course!

A couple of couches, low leather stools and some rustic coffee tables provide a spot to rest my tush as I pen a glowing review.

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The kōhī lives up to my expectations. An excellent balance of flavour that is not overwhelmed by the milk: a common problem with the chain kissaten such as Starbucks and the like.

They also sell a few accessories: beans packaged in army camouflage; carry bags & t-shirts; coffee-mug jars & a book on latte art.

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But it’s the coffee that will have me coming back for more.

You know, I think I may have already found the “go to” place for my early morning brew here in Ōsaka.

streamerespresso.blogspot.com

Mon – Fri : 8am – 8pm
Sat, Sun & holidays : 11am – 8pm

Kim*