Tokyo’s speciality coffee scene is incredibly varied, ranging from international brands and traditional kissaten to small, home-grown coffee shop/roasters, absorbing global influences to forge their own identities. Yesterday’s Coffee Spot, Glitch Coffee & Roasters, definitely falls into the latter category and is one of the most innovative coffee shops that I’ve visited in Tokyo. Best of all, it’s served me some truly outstanding coffee, the subject of today’s Saturday Supplement.
Glitch roasts on a 5kg Probat, tucked away on the right-hand side of the coffee shop in full view of the customers. Concentrating on lightly-roasted single-origins, two of which are on espresso, the real star is the pour-over. There’s a row V60s along the front of the counter, each with a glass jar of beans and a card giving tasting notes and details of the origin.
While you can order by the cup, I was drawn to the tasting flights, which allow you to try two or three of the single-origin pour-overs (chosen by Glitch) side-by-side. So drawn, in fact, that today’s post is all about the two tasting flights I’ve had, the first in 2018 and the other last weekend at the end of my most recent trip.
You can see what I made of the experience after the gallery.
I had my first tasting flight during my around the world trip at the end of 2018. Glitch Coffee & Roasters was offering five single-origins at the time, two of which (a Colombian Geisha and a rare Ethiopia Hambela Alaka) were significantly more expensive than the others and therefore, unsurprisingly, excluded from the tasting flight. That left three coffees, all washed: a Kenyan Nyeri Chorongi AA, an Ethiopian Guki Wolichu Wachu and a Guatemalan Huehuetenango La Laguna. These were served in small, flared cups, presented together on a tray with cards giving details of each coffee along with its taste profile.
I began by tasting each of the coffees in turn, before letting them cool for a while, then tasting them again, this time in reverse order. I then repeated the process until all the coffee was gone, the idea being to see how each coffee evolved as it cooled.
Initially, the Guatemalan, a rich and complex coffee, was my clear favourite on the first pass. In comparison, the Ethiopian was cleaner, with fruity notes, while the Kenyan was even cleaner and, on first pass, the least impressive of the three.
However, as the coffees cooled, the Kenyan started to come into its own, developing subtle fruity flavours which came to the fore. It rapidly grew on me, so much so that it soon became my favourite, continuing to develop as it cooled. In contrast, the other two stayed much the same, with the Guatemalan, which retained its rich complexity, slipping into second place.
That just left the Ethiopian, which was my least favourite. In its defence, it was still a very fine coffee, and, had I ordered it on its own, I’d have been perfectly happy with it. In fact, I was really surprised that I preferred the other two: before I noticed the tasting flights on the menu, it was the Ethiopian that I’d decided to order!
You can see what I made of my second tasting flight after the gallery.
I returned to Glitch on the final weekend of the first of my two trips to Japan in 2019. This time there were six single-origins, two of which were Geishas, featured in their own tasting flight. Of the others, one, a natural Nicaraguan, was significantly more expensive (although not as expensive as the Geishas) and so was excluded from the tasting flight.
This left a naturally-process Colombian Santander La Pradera and two washed coffees, a Kenyan Kirintaga Karinga and an Ethiopian Geder Worka Sakaro. I followed a similar procedure to that of my first visit, only this time I first smelled all the coffees.
The Colombian was by far the most interesting, a typical natural, full of punchy fruit notes. The Kenyan, meanwhile, was slightly less in your face, with classic Kenyan blackcurrant notes. Finally, the Ethiopian presented as a more subtle, floral coffee. Sometimes the smell of a coffee can be misleading, but here all three were spot on when it came to tasting. The Colombian was full bodied and fruity, the Kenyan bursting with blackcurrant, while the Ethiopian’s subtle flavours got somewhat lost in the onslaught!
As they cooled, the Ethiopian stayed remarkably constant, a very smooth, drinkable coffee that, just as had been the case the year before, I’d have been perfectly happy with had I ordered it on its own. The other two, however, really developed. The Kenyan became insanely full of blackcurrant, one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time. The Colombian, meanwhile, became even fruitier, reaching a peak before evolving some subtly as it began to get cold. The initial fruity punch gave way to a pleasing complexity, providing a nice contrast to the Kenyan’s continued insanity.
In conclusion, both flights were outstanding, the coffees offering widely contrasting flavour profiles. Individually, they were some of the best I’ve had in years. I was so impressed with the Kenyan from my first visit that I obtained a bag in exchange for a copy of my book, The Philosophy of Coffee. On my second visit, I was even more impressed, buying bags of both the Colombian and Kenyan as gifts for Surrey Hills and Canopy Coffee.
As an aside, I also tried the Geisha tasting flight, but that was during my visit to Glitch’s second location, Glitch Coffee Brewed, and so is another story altogether.
December 2019: Tasting Flights at Glitch Coffee has won the 2019 Best Filter Coffee Award.
|3-16 KANDA NISHIKICHO • CHIYODA-KU • TOKYO • 101-0054 • JAPAN|
|Monday||07:30 – 20:00||Roaster||Glitch Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 20:00||Seating||Tables, Counter, Window-bar; Stools (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 20:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 20:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 20:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||09:00 – 19:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||19th October 2018, 14th September 2019|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Tokyo’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Tokyo.
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