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).
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|
|www.facebook.com/Sentido/||+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|
|Chain||No||Visits||25th April 2017, 31st August 2019|
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