I first discovered Bread, Espresso & when I visited in its original Omotesandō location. Conveniently located a short walk from my hotel in Tokyo, it became a regular weekend brunch spot on that and subsequent visits. While I knew there multiple locations in Tokyo and, increasingly, around the country, I was unaware that Bread, Espresso & had opened in Kyoto, until I was alerted by the lovely baristas at % Arabica in Arashiyama. It was timely advice, since I was looking for breakfast (% Arabica only serves coffee) and Bread, Espresso & was a mere five-minute walk away!
Kyoto has some amazing coffee shops in outstanding locations and Bread, Espresso & can be added to the list. It occupies a restored 200-year-old traditional Japanese farmhouse and associated buildings, set in a small compound. There’s a café in the farmhouse, the majority of the seating at traditional, low tables, while a separate takeaway bakery occupies another building.
Bread, Espresso & very much does what the name suggests. There are excellent (bread-based) breakfast and lunch menus, along with a selection of cakes, all baked on the premises, plus a concise, espresso-based coffee offering, all coupled with the usual high standard Japanese service.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Bread, Espresso & is in Arashiyama, between the Katsura River and the Tenryuji Temple. It takes a bit of finding, tucked away down a narrow alley west of the main drag. However, it’s well worth seeking out, particularly for the beautiful thatched farmhouse, home to the café (the “espresso &” part of the operation). The best approach is from the east, where you come to the main gate at the right-hand end of the compound. From here, a path leads straight to the farmhouse. This has a high, peaked roof, with low eaves (level with my chest, so I really had to duck to get under them).
A broad veranda, backed by large, multi-paned windows, runs along the front, with the door on the right. If you want to sit outside, there are six round cushions here, three on either side of a central pillar. Alternatively, here are some more conventional (ie western-style) benches around the corner against the left-hand wall of the building.
Inside, Bread, Espresso & has what is effectively an entrance corridor running down the right-hand side, with all the seating in a raised area on the left. This is accessed towards the back via a couple of broad steps, although you are first required, in true Japanese fashion, to take your shoes off (if you really can’t face this, you’ll need to sit outside). First though, you have to walk past the till (where you pay on your way out) and the cake counter. There’s also the coffee counter, at the far end on the right, but since Bread, Espresso & offers a full table service, you won’t need to go down there.
The majority of the seating is low, Japanese-style tables, the seats directly on the floor. My back/knees are too old for this, but fortunate there’s one table, an eight-seater, at the top of the steps, which has western-style chairs. Behind that, in its own room along the left-hand side, are a pair of tables, one two-person, the other a four-person one. There’s more seating at the front of Bread, Espresso &, where you’ll find four four-person tables, two in the windows along the front and two at the back. Finally, there’s another room at the back on the left, with a two-person and four-person table. The windows here can be slid across to open onto the gardens.
As well as the café, a more modern-looking building on the left houses the bakery, complete with take-away counter (the “bread and” bit) so if you just want bread/cake, this is the place to go (although there’s no coffee). Unfortunately, I came upon Bread, Espresso & from this direction, not realising there was a separate café, and bought my breakfast (French Toast) here. When I discovered the café, the staff took pity on me and let me eat my French Toast, even heating it up for me, which is excellent service.
I ordered an espresso to go with it (having previously only had cappuccinos at the Omotesandō location). This was gorgeous, beautifully-balanced and smooth, going down a treat. My French Toast was just as good, light and fluffy, more of a bread souffle than your typical French bread. It was the perfect start to my day, although not my battle to keep my expanding waistline under control!
December 2019: Bread, Espresso & Arashiyama Garden was a runner-up for the 2019 Best Physical Space Award.
|45-15 ASHINOBABACHO • TENTENRYUJI • UKYO-KU • KYOTO • 616-8385 • JAPAN|
|www.bread-espresso.jp||+81 (0) 75-366-6850|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||In-house (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Bench (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cash Only|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||National||Visits||31st August 2019|
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