Breather Coffee

The Breather Coffee logo from the curbside sign outside the shop in Zushi, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan.Breather Coffee, in Zushi in Kanagawa prefecture, was a recommendation from Dark Arts Coffee in nearby Hayama, who I visited while on my way to Tokyo during my recent trip to Japan in August/September this year. Occupying a small spot right in the centre of town, Breather Coffee is a five-minute walk from the station, making it an easy option if you’re reliant on public transport.

Run by a lovely, friendly Japanese couple, Kohei and Mizuho, Breather Coffee uses Melbourne roasters, Maker Coffee, a legacy of the five years that Kohei and Mizuho spent in Melbourne (which also accounts for their excellent English). You’ll find the Smith Blend on espresso, where it’s joined by a single-origin option, plus another on pour-over through the V60. The single-origins change on a weekly basis and are also available in retail bags. If you’re hungry, there are western-style cakes and a couple of toasties.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Breather Coffee, on the main north-south road through Zushi, in Kanagawa prefecture.
  • If you're wondering how to find it, it's well signposted: this is on the way from the station.
  • There's also this curbside sign outside Breather Coffee itself.
  • And, of course, there's the obligatory A-board, advertising Breather's Jamaican Jaffle.
  • If you don't want to go in, there's this row of three stools outside by the busy road.
  • Alternatively, the door is just to the right.
  • The door/window is packed full of useful information. This is Kohei and Mizuho, the owners.
  • Breather Coffee is also keen to push its takeaway credentials...
  • ... although it's equally keen to stress that you can stay here too.
  • The door also has a handy menu.
  • Inside, you are greeted by the counter at the back of Breather Coffee.
  • There's an extension off to the right at the about 30° to the front.
  • There's a four-person bar down here, running along the front wall...
  • ... and a wooden bench in front of the counter.
  • Another look at the four-person bar...
  • ... beyond which there's more seating in the front part of Breather Coffee.
  • ... where you'll find a five-person window-bar in the windows to the left of the door.
  • This is split into a three-person and two-person section, with seating...
  • ... for two more at an extension to the counter to the left of the espresso machine.
  • Despite all the windows at the front, there are lights in the extension.
  • There are also lots of plants, which offset the predominantly white decor.
  • I found that they were really effective, making it a very welcoming space.
  • Not all the plants hung on the walls, by the way.
  • I also liked the pictures, which includes this one (it's of Kohei and Mizuho).
  • More artwork, this time a drawing of the coffee shop on one of the windows.
  • There's a set of retail shelves beside the door...
  • ... with the usual retail bags of coffee...
  • ... and a small selection of coffee-making equipment.
  • To business. The espresso machine, a La Marzocco Strada, greets you as you enter...
  • ... with its grinders (the Peak for the espresso blend, EK43 for single-origins) to the left...
  • ... and the till and menu to the right.
  • There are information panels to the left of the menu, detailing the single-origins on offer.
  • The menu with its concise coffee offering, as well as other drinks and food.
  • There are also cakes, looking rather depleted at the end of a long day!
  • I had an espresso, an Gersi Orsi Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia...
  • ... which came with an extensive information sheet.
  • I'll leave you with my espresso, pulled short and served in a classic black cup...
  • ... which I had along with a very fine slice of carrot cake.
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Breather Coffee, which opened in the summer of 2018, is a five-minute walk from Zushi Station, about 50 km southwest of Tokyo on a direct line via Yokahama, with two trains an hour from Shinjunku/Shibuya and more from Tokyo/Shinagawa, the journey taking just under an hour. There’s also the option of Shin-Zushi on the Keikyu line, which offers connections from Shinagawa, Yokohama and Haneda Airport.

Breather Coffee is on the western side of the main north-south road through Zushi (which, if you follow it south for a couple of kilometres, leads to Dark Arts Coffee in Hayama), The front is almost all glass, with the door (also glass) on the right, while there’s a line of three low stools on the pavement to the left.

Inside, it’s an interestingly-shaped space. Long and thin, there’s a conventional, rectangular section to the left of the door, while to the right, a windowless extension runs off at about 30° to the front. The counter, meanwhile, mirrors the overall shape, with a short section along the back wall, facing the windows at the front, and a long section at 30° to the right, running along the back wall of the extension.

The seating is also split between the two sections, with a five-person window-bar to the left of the door and two further seats at the left-hand end of the counter. Meanwhile, to the right, there’s a long, low bench in front of the counter, while a four-person bar runs along the front wall.

The left-hand part of the counter is occupied by the two-group La Marzocco Strada espresso machine, with its grinders off to the left, a Mahlkönig Peak for the Smith blend and an EK43 for the single-origins. The till, where you order, is at the start of the sloping section to the right, where you’ll also find the cakes and pour-over station. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to buy any coffee beans, you’ll find the retail selection on the wall to the right of the door.

I had an espresso made with the naturally-processed Gersi Orsi from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. Beautifully presented, it was served with a glass of water and an extensive information sheet, giving tasting notes and details of the washing station in Ethiopia. Pulled commendably short, it was a nicely rounded coffee with a complex, fruity taste, my second great espresso of the day (after the Lost Highways single-origin Nicaraguan I had at Dark Arts). I paired this with an excellent slice of a very moist carrot cake with a generous cream cheese topping. Perfect!

7-6-33 SHIOZAWA BUILDING • ZUSHI • KANAGAWA • 249-0006 • JAPAN +81 (0) 46-815-6885
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Maker (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Bar, Window Bar, Counter; Stools (outside)
Wednesday CLOSED Food Cake, Toasties
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 18:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 1st September 2019

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