Kurasu

A creamy cappuccino, served in a white cup on a small wooden tray at Kurasu in Kyoto.A relative newcomer to Kyoto’s speciality coffee scene, Kurasu only opened in 2016. It seems a tad harsh to call it a chain, but shortly after my visit, in 2017, a second branch of Kurasu opened. In Singapore. While an excellent coffee shop in its own right, Kurasu also champions Japanese coffee products, such as pour-over filters, kettles and crockery, operating a worldwide mail order business, which is where Kurasu had its roots, starting in Australia in 2013, before the owner returned to his home town in 2016.

A five-minute walk from Kyoto’s main station, the coffee shop is a modest affair, long, and thin, with the counter on one side and minimal seating at the back. There’s a house blend from Single O, an Australian-based roaster with an outpost in Tokyo, while the pour-over and batch-brew feature single-origins from roasters around Japan, who change every month. There’s also a small selection of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On a corner not far from Kyoto's main station, you'll find this unassuming building...
  • ... home to Kurasu speciality coffee stand.
  • I love the simplicity of the A-board.
  • Stepping inside, the layout is just as simple, with the counter dominating on the right.
  • There's a small bar off in the corner to the left...
  • ... followed by a long window...
  • ... beyond which you'll find the only seating.
  • This is right at the back and consists of a four-person bar, and a solitary seat.
  • The bar is against the left-hand wall after the window. Check out the long, narrow stools.
  • The seat, meanwhile, is at the far end of the counter, in front of the retail shelves.
  • Talking of which, Kurasu is as much about coffee kit as it is about coffee.
  • There are lots pour-over filters, although these two (the Torch) were my favourites.
  • Of course, if you're going to do pour-over justice, you need a gooseneck kettle.
  • Although how about these two if you want something a little out of the ordinary?
  • And, of course, you'll want something to drink your coffee out of. Cups, anyone?
  • You can even buy ones with saucers!
  • At the other end of the shop, at the front, you'll find the retail coffee selection.
  • This (mostly) matches what's currently being served on the counter. There's a blend...
  • ... and four single-origins on pour-over. This is the Kochere from Morifuji Coffee.
  • ... as is this interestingly-named Tropical Paradise from the Dominican Republic.
  • Although the packaging says Kurasu, a variety of roasters are used. This is by Manly...
  • ... while the Guatemalan Antigua Bourbon (on batch-brew) is from Morifuji again.
  • Despite plenty of windows, there are plenty of lights too.
  • I liked the insides of the lamp shades.
  • Cacti on the window sill.
  • Kurasu appeared in Caffeine Magazine and the staff were delighted to receive a copy!
  • So, to business. The espresso machine greets you as you enter...
  • ... although you need to shuffle down the side of the counter to order.
  • There's a small range of cakes and biscuits for sale next to the till...
  • ... although the main draw is the coffee, with options from this concise menu.
  • The current pour-over choices, one of which is also available as batch-brew.
  • Batch-brew is through the ever-reliable Moccamaster, while pour-over...
  • ... is via the V60.
  • However, I decided to go for something from the espresso machine...
  • ... a creamy cappuccino, in fact, beautifully presented on a small wooden tray.
  • I'll leave you with the impressive latte art...
  • ... which lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup.
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I am indebted to Caffeine Magazine for the heads-up on Kurasu (which featured in Issue 26), since it’s not somewhere you’re likely to stumble upon by accident. Located in a cluster of small, quiet streets west of the railway station, it makes a perfect first (or last) stop if you’re travelling to the city by train. It’s a modest spot on a corner, the long side running along a pedestrian alley, with a small shop front facing onto the main street.

This is dominated by a single window, with a sliding glass door embedded on the left. Inside, it is equally simple, with the counter, running along the right-hand wall, occupying at least half the space, although it stops just short of the window at the front and the back wall, leaving space for retail shelves (coffee, at the front, on the right-hand wall; equipment, on the back wall). As well as the window at the front, there’s another along the left-hand wall, running almost half its length.

This is where you’ll also find the seating, such as it is. There’s a small, standing-only bar immediately to the left of the door, extending a little over the window, then, at the back, is a four-person bar with long, narrow stools. Finally, at the far end of the counter, is a single seat, perhaps the best spot in the whole place, where you can sit and watch the baristas at work.

As well as championing Japanese-designed coffee equipment (check out the wide range of pour-over filters at the back), Kurasu showcases Japanese roasters, which it features on pour-over (V60) and batch-brew (Moccamaster) alongside its house-blend, Reservoir, on espresso. During my visit last year, there were four single-origins available on pour-over from two roasters, Manly Coffee, from Fukuoka, and Morifuji Coffee, from Kanagawa, with a fifth single-origin from Morifuji on batch-brew.

Faced with all that choice, I went for a cappuccino with the house-blend and was rewarded with a very rich, creamy coffee, the milk going extremely well with the coffee, but allowing its natural flavours to come through. It was also extremely well-steamed, the milk holding the latte art to the bottom of the cup.

Although not specific to Kurasu, one thing I learnt on this trip is that, unlike the UK/US, where the barista will place your coffee on the counter for you to pick up, Japanese baristas are incredibly polite and will therefore hand you your coffee. Which, when you’re standing there, camera in hand, ready to take a picture of it, can be tricky. By the end of the trip, I’d learnt enough to put my camera down, politely take my coffee, then take a picture of it!

552 HIGASHIABURANOKŌJICHŌ • SHIMOGYŌ-KU • KYOTO • 600-8235 • JAPAN
https://kurasu.kyoto +81 (0) 75-744-0804
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Single O (espresso) + Guests (filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Bar, Counter
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 18:00 Power Limited
Chain International Visits 25th April 2017, 1st September 2019

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  1. Pingback: 2018 Awards – Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station | Brian's Coffee Spot

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