Last summer I spent a few days in Kanazawa in Ishikawa on Japan’s northern coast, where I found a small, thriving speciality coffee scene, not least the excellent Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office. Both a coffee shop and roastery, it’s just outside the northern entrance to Kanazawa Castle, making it the ideal spot for a pre- or post-sightseeing coffee.
It’s part of the Caravanserai Coffeeshop, which has been going since 1980 in the nearby Omicho market, with Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office opening in 2011. As well as being a lovely coffee shop, spread over two floors with a small outside terrace and traditional Japanese sitting area, it’s also a roastery, with a 6 kg Giesen tucked in downstairs beside the counter.
In keeping with many Japanese coffee shops, full table service is offered, with a range of coffee on offer, backed up by a selection of cakes and snacks. As well as a concise espresso-based menu with the house-blend, there are five blends available on pour-over as well as five single-origins, with roast profiles ranging from light to dark. All the beans are available to buy in retail bags, along with a range of cups, coffee kit and hand-carved spoons.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Behind Kanazawa’s famous Omicho market, a short road runs due south, ending at one of the many entrances to Kanazawa castle, now largely a ruin, its sprawling grounds acting as a large park. Just before the entrance, on the right-hand side of the road, at the end of short row of houses, stands Kanazawaya Coffee Shop Head Office.
It occupies a two-storey building, with a small, sheltered terrace projecting from the front, while the entrance is via an enclosed porch at the top of a shallow ramp running along the left-hand side. There’s a sliding glass door to the right, which leads into the coffee shop proper, while you’ll also find containers for your umbrella, vital, if, like me, you visited in the middle of the rainy season!
Downstairs is the compact coffee shop/roastery, with the counter at the back, the roaster next to it in the right-hand corner, and the seating at the front. This consists of two rows of tables, one against each wall, while beyond that, sliding glass doors open onto the terrace. Each row has one two-person and one four-person table, while on the terrace there’s a round table on either side, each with three closely-packed seats. Be aware that since the interior is no smoking, the terrace tends to attract the smokers.
Back inside, there’s an opening in the wall behind and to the left of the counter (immediately behind and to your left as you enter, so it’s not obvious). This leads to a corridor behind the porch, where you’ll find the toilets, two display cases crammed with some beautiful cups and coffee-making equipment plus stairs leading to the first-floor seating area.
The stairs run along the left-hand wall then along the back wall, where a short corridor continues to the far corner. The seating is arranged in an L-shape, with an additional, self-contained room with traditional Japanese seating (no shoes allowed) and walls made from tall slats of wood. Five cushions sit on the floor, lined up along a low table overlooking the stairs.
There are two conventional, four-person tables along the right-hand wall, opposite the traditional seating area, while along the front are four more two-person tables, two at the front, and two along the back, the second of these overlooking the stairs. It’s nice and bright upstairs, a window running the full width of the front, with more windows down the side.
I visited twice, on my first and last days in Kanazawa, my second visit just before heading to the station. I started with a cappuccino, pairing with a slice of rich, creamy cheesecake. Although I suspect that the roast was fairly dark, it went very well with the milk, the two nicely complimenting each other.
However, the set-up is geared towards pour-over, where as well as traditional, ridged bottomed filters, you can also have syphon or cloth-filtered pour-over. So, on my return, I had a naturally-processed Ethiopia Mocha pour-over, chosen from the row of beans in jars at the counter, where there was a flavour graph and other tasting notes on the jar, plus some explanatory notes which were delivered with my coffee (sadly all in Japanese).
My pour-over was served in a hand-thrown pottery cup, with a tiny milk jug on the side, along with a gorgeous hand-carved wooden spoon. The coffee itself was lovely, quite rich and fruity, with the typical punchiness I come to expect from a naturally-processed coffee.
|5-26 MARUNOUCHI • KANAZAWA • ISHIKAWA • 920-0937 • JAPAN|
|www.krf.co.jp||+81 (0) 76-254-5411|
|Monday||09:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Kanazawaya (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables; Tables (outside)|
|Thursday||09:00 – 18:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||09:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||27th, 30th August 2019|
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