Yesterday I took the Shinkansen from Kyoto Station, on my way towards Tokyo, stopping en-route in Hamaya to visit Dark Arts and in Zushi (Breather Coffee). It therefore seems fitting that today’s Coffee Spot is the Kyoto Station branch of Ogawa Coffee. I had my first-ever Kyoto speciality coffee there on arriving from Tokyo in April 2017, and on my return, I had my final coffee (along with my breakfast) before leaving Kyoto yesterday morning. Not that 2017 was my first experience of Ogawa Coffee. Rather that came a year earlier in 2016, at Ogawa Coffee in Boston. Naturally, when visiting Kyoto, the home of Ogawa, I had to try at least one branch of Ogawa, and where better to start (and end), than at the station?
Despite being what could be described as a station takeaway café, Ogawa doesn’t compromise when it comes to coffee. There’s a concise espresso menu, offering espresso, cappuccino or latte, the latter being available hot or iced. There’s also filter, with a choice of the house-blend on batch-brew, and two single-origins as pour-over or Aeropress. You can either sit-in or have your coffee to go, which you can order from the separate retail counter.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery (all photos from my 2017 visit unless noted).
The biggest challenge you’ll have is finding Ogawa Coffee. It’s exactly where the map says it is, on the northeast side of Kyoto station, except it’s underground between the Cube (a shopping mall under the station’s northern side) and Porta (another underground shopping mall to the station’s northeast). Alternatively, if you are coming or going by metro, it’s outside the metro’s northern entrance.
At first there doesn’t seem much to Ogawa Coffee, just a counter with a few seats and a dedicated takeaway/retail counter to the right, with a separate window facing the corridor outside. However, it’s a surprisingly big space once you get inside. The front is lined with French windows which can be opened to connect the interior to the outside seating, but whether open or closed, you’ll need to use the glass double doors in the middle between the windows and the retail counter.
A row of four bar-stools sit in front of the windows, mirrored inside by four round, two-person tables which are immediately to the left of the door. To the right, against the side of the retail counter, there’s another row of four bar-stools, although these are probably best used for perching on while waiting for takeaway coffee.
The counter’s at the back, cakes to the right, till in the centre (where you order) and filter on the left, with the espresso machine on the back of the counter, business end facing forwards. You could, in theory, stand at the counter and watch your coffee being made, although I suspect you’d be in the way.
However, that’s not all. An opening in the right-hand wall behind the retail counter leads to a small, near-windowless nook with five square, two-person tables. Meanwhile, a large window on the left-hand side is lined by a padded bench with a further five square, two-person tables. Beyond this, effectively to the left of/behind the counter, are a handful of square, two-person tables, clustered around a wide, circular floor-to-ceiling pillar.
On my first visit in 2017, I had the Panama Deborah Natural, the barista recommending it through the Aeropress. My coffee, served in a mug, had plenty of body, but with delicate, fruity flavours, one of the better filters I had on that trip. I had an egg and salad sandwich for lunch, which disappeared very quickly!
On my return in 2019, I had breakfast at Ogawa before leaving for Tokyo, ordering the toast and salad set. This consisted of a cold, hard-boiled egg, a small bowl of salad and a thick (and I mean thick) slice of white toast of the sort that’s very typical in Japan. Despite its thickness, this was gloriously light and fluffy. While my toast set was plain, you can add smoked salmon or ham if you like.
I’d planned to have a cappuccino, but on seeing the single-origin choices, I changed my mind. There was an Ethiopian and a Panama, with ground samples on the counter for you to smell. I was drawn to the Panama, but the roast seemed really dark, so I went with the Ethiopian instead, selecting a pour-over, made using a ridge-bottomed Kalita filter. This too was excellent, a smooth, well-balanced brew that went down exceedingly well first thing in the morning, proving to be a fitting send off from Kyoto!
|KYOTO STATION • HIGASHISHIOKOJI-CHO • KYOTO • 600-8216 • JAPAN|
|https://www.oc-creates.jp||+81 (0) 75-352-0808|
|Monday||07:30 – 21:00||Roaster||Ogawa (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 21:00||Seating||Tables, Stools|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 21:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 21:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 21:00||Payment||Cards & Cash|
|Saturday||07:30 – 21:00||Wifi||Free (with registration)|
|Sunday||07:30 – 21:00||Power||No|
|Chain||International||Visits||24th April 2017, 1st September 2019|
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