Sentido Speciality Coffee

A lovely single-origin Rwandan espresso, served in a classic white cup in Sentido Speciality Coffee in Kyoto.Sentido Speciality Coffee is in the heart of Kyoto, south of the Imperial Palace and east of Nijō Castle. It’s also a few blocks from Weekenders Coffee, so it’s in pretty good company! I visited in  2017, during my first trip to Japan, tipped off by both Commodities Connoisseur and Double Skinny Macchiato. However, I didn’t have time to properly write it up, so a return visit was top of my list when I got back to Kyoto last weekend.

Down a side street off Takamiyacho, the main east-west artery, you’re unlikely to randomly wander by and, even if you do, you might well miss it, given its relatively small façade, set back slightly from the street. Inside it’s slightly larger than it seems, going back a long way, but it’s not what I’d describe as large.

The coffee, roasted by Cafetime Kyoto, is packaged/sold under the Sentido label, with all the beans available to buy in retail bags. There’s a blend and single-origin on espresso, while all the coffees, including the blend, are available through the cafetiere, with samples to try on the counter-top. If you’re hungry, there’s a range of sandwiches and cake, with plenty of vegetarian options.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery (all photos from my 2017 visit unless noted).

  • Tucked away on a quiet Kyoto street, Sentido Speciality Coffee is easy to miss. That was...
  • ... from my first viist in 2017. Not that it looked much different on my return last weekend.
  • There's a bench outside in front of the window...
  • ... with menus to the right...
  • ... and to the left.
  • Inside, and there are three square tables in the window to the right of the door...
  • ... opposite which is the counter, which is set back on the right-hand side.
  • The remaining seating is down the left-hand side of the counter against the wall.
  • There are two two-person tables up against the wall...
  • ... while beyond that are four more square two-person tables against another bench.
  • The view from the back.
  • While we're back here, don't forget to check out the espresso machine, a Synesso.
  • There's also a set of bookshelves at the back, to the left of the espresso machine...
  • ... while at the front, before the seating, is a small table with some water.
  • Next to the door, on your left as you come in, are the retail shelves.
  • On my first visit, the bags of coffee were on the counter, so the retail shelves were...
  • ... just for merchandising and coffee equipment.
  • On my return last weekend, the retail bags had moved over to the shelves by the door.
  • To business. The counter faces you as you come in.
  • In 2017, the retail bags lined the front of the counter...
  • ... although these days you'll find samples of the various single-origins for you to try.
  • There's also a list of retail coffee, with tasting notes, on the wall to the right of the counter.
  • To the left of the counter, you'll find the granola and a small selection of...
  • ... cake, which are western in style.
  • This was the menu in 2017, with wraps and panini...
  • ... while this was the coffee menu.
  • There were also various lunch sets.
  • This is the equivalent set of menus from my viist last weekend.
  • Back to my first viist, where I began with a lovely Nyeri from Kenya through the cafetiere.
  • I paired that with an excellent a toasted pumpkin and kidney bean wrap for lunch...
  • ... and followed it with a lovely single-origin Rwandan as an espresso.
  • I was so impressed with the Kenyan, by the way, that I bought a bag to bring back.
  • On my return last weekend, I was also there for lunch...
  • ... selecting the tomato and cream cheese sandwich.
  • I paired this with a cafetiere of the Costa Rican Volcan Azul, which is where I'll leave you.
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Sentido Speciality Coffee is set back slightly from the narrow street on the ground floor of a multi-storey concrete building. To the right is an arched porch and entrance corridor for the rest of the building, while to the left are the two tall glass windows of Sentido, with a matching third window on the left-hand end turning out to be the door. If you want to sit outside, there’s a solitary bench in front of the windows, well-sheltered from the quiet road.

Inside, Sentido is long and thin, with the counter, set back from the windows, along the right-hand side and the seating in the remaining L-shaped space. To your right, three square, two-person tables run along a padded bench in the window, with large, rectangular stools on the other side. There’s a set of retail shelves against the left-hand wall by the door, followed by a bar-like table against the wall, seating provided by four stools This is followed by another padded bench with a further four square, two-person tables, again with stools on the other side.

The two-part counter is on the right. There’s a wooden construction at roughly 30° to the window, so the till and cakes, which are on the let-hand corner opposite the door, are set a little further back. Meanwhile, the right-hand end, containing samples of coffee for you to try, is closer to front. The remainder of the counter runs down the centre, facing the left-hand wall, the three-group Synesso espresso machine and its grinders to the fore. Behind that, against the right-hand wall, is a small kitchen area.

The interior décor is fairly simple, with concrete walls and floor contrasting with a lovely wooden ceiling. Despite the glass front, the narrow, high-sided side street doesn’t allow that much natural light in, adding to the pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.

On my first visit, in April 2017, I was there for lunch, Sentido having a small range of wraps and panini; all with western-style fillings. I had a toasted pumpkin and kidney bean wrap, which was lovely. I paired this with a cafetiere of the Nyeri from Kenya. Initially this was a little too hot, but it grew on me as it cooled, allowing more of the fruity flavours to come through. I was sufficiently impressed to buy a bag to bring back with me for a Japanese coffee cupping that I helped organise at that year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, where the coffee was very highly thought of!

I followed that up with a lovely single-origin Rwandan on espresso, another fruity but well-balanced coffee, one of the best espressos that I had on my entire trip.

On my return, 2½ years later, I was also there for lunch, partly because of the multiple vegetarian choices on offer, settling on a tomato and cream cheese sandwich (sandwiches having replaced wraps/panini on the menu). This was interesting, the tomato coming as a paste (which went very well with the cream cheese, actually).

I tried several of the samples before settling on the Costa Rican Volcan Azul, which was the best of those that I tried. It was lovely, smooth and well-balanced, with plenty of body, more than holding its own as it cooled, but not quite reaching the heights of the Kenyan from my first visit.

445 SASAYACHO • NAKAGYO-KU • KYOTO • 604-8187 • JAPAN +81 (0) 075-741-7439
Monday 07:30 – 17:00 Roaster Coffeetime Kyoto (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 17:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 07:30 – 17:00 Food Granola, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 17:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain No Visits 25th April 2017, 31st August 2019

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