Let’s have a cuppa in……..hair salon!

I aint’ joking! You really can have a cuppa in the hair salons in Japan.

Below is the one I got last week when I was in a hair salon. Yes, the hair dresser gave it to me when she learned that I like coffee. So, it’s free! Actually, they will serve you any kind of drink you like as long as they have it, say, green tea, soft drinks etc. What a good service! Starbucks has one more competitor now 🙂

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Best coffee!

Coffee has been my campany for many years. My first cup can be traced back to high school era. Yes! I am a 100% genuine coffee lover. Yet, as many foreigners new to Japan, it’s unfortunate to see that coffee does not enjoy as high a status as in our home countries. Anyhow, the most favourite, everyday drink for Japanese people is green tea. They drink it as water so you can imagine. When you are back to the office or arriving to someone’s home, you will mostly likely be treated a green tea, instead of coffee or water. ‘I am not fond of tea but a cup or two is fine occasionally’ you may say. The problem is, Japanese tea has a unique taste and is quite different from the tea of other countries’, like that of Sri Lanka, Chinese, etc. Japanese green tea usually smells a bit stinky. It can be quite unpleasant for a foreigner’s taste buds.

Forget about coffee?

Speaking of coffee, there can be up to thousands of names. Japanese people usually serve and drink instant coffee, instead of brewed coffee. If you live in Japan for long and have ever tried to find a good coffee machine or your favourite coffee beans you used to drink in your home country, you will realize how small the coffee market is. Sometimes, in order to blend in to local culture in a given situation, you may need to temporarily forget about brewed coffee and switch to instant coffee, say, in an office where coffee machine does not even exist.

Sadly, the variety of instant coffee available is very limited. Coffee drinkers in Japan usually stick to a few typical types such as Gold Blend from Nestle, Key Coffee, Blendy. What to do if you find out one day you need to switch to instant coffee because, say, you come to a Japanese company where there is no coffee machine? Don’t worry, we’ve got internet these days and you can order high quality instant coffee overseas when you are in Japan!

Best tasting instant coffee

You may think that the best instant coffee may probably be Blue Mountain, as in the brewed coffee range. It’s not the case for instant coffee. From my personal experience and that of others, Noir, a type of French coffee, is the best instant coffee which is comparable to fine grade brewed coffee. There are two coffee companies which are regarded the best for their Noir coffee. One is Nestle with the name Noir. The other one is Carte Noire Instant Coffee from Carte Noire. The former is as well known as Mecca’s so there is no point to spend time on it. The latter, Carte Noire, is a leading premium coffee brand in France. No coffee lover in France does not know this name. Coffee of Carte Noire is actually available in coffee beans, ground coffee, and instant coffee. It partly explains why their instant coffee can taste so great.

It is time to try some real coffee, if you have been sticking with Gold Blend, Cap Colombie, Alta Rica………

Osaka 大阪 – Time to say goodbye

This is the last day in Osaka(大阪). I deliberately planned it to be more relaxing so I didn’t arrange too much for today. Rather, I put my time on a few spots and explored them more deeply.

Moto Coffee

I arrived at the first spot – Moto Coffee in Kitahama(北浜) at about noon. It proved that I made the right choice. It took me less than 5 minutes to find out the café. It’s almost right next to the Kitahama Station. Anyone would be captured by the look of its shop front.

Much more than a cafe

While I was stepping inside, a strong aroma instantly got to my nose. I ordered a mild coffee (it says weak coffee in the menu) at the counter and it cost me 450yen. The coffee was a bit sour so not much to my liking. But ! the view, design, furnishing, and service easily score an A/ B. Though small, the cafe has got three floors of 3 different themes and it’s located right next to a river. It’s also got a balcony where you can sit there, enjoy the sunshine and get some reading done in summer time. The view is truly stunning in both day and night time. You can see people crossing the bridge, cruises getting past the quiet, beautiful river. You will be saved from the hustle bustle immediately outside the front door of the cafe while enjoying your cuppa. The furnishing is nice and elegant. Every piece of furniture is carefully chosen to match the theme in the room of a given floor and is top grade in quality. As you run your hand over the tables and chairs, you can instantly feel that they’re made of high quality solid wood. They blend in together to come to a unity, producing a refined atmosphere. Attention to detail is another thing that gives this tiny café a plus. As a customer, the temperature and everything is in your control. You can turn the temperature up / down as you wish. You wanna have a good view of the river but it happens you are sitting facing the wall? No problem! You can move the furniture, chairs and tables as you wish until you can have a view to your liking. And that’s not the end of it. They also give you a tiny wooden thingy as you order your food / drink. You will be asked to return it to the counter while you leave the café. It ensures your dishes won’t be collected at the wrong time, such as when you go to the toilet. The other advantage is that you won’t be hassled unnecessarily as staff won’t come in to your room until you’re finished with your food and drink when you returned the thingy at the front door.

Still not perfect

Moto Coffee isn’t perfect. Downsides are that it often opens at 12pm to cater for the lunch crowd and closes quite early. Which is a little disappointing for those of us who like a nice coffee in the morning or early evening. Also, the balcony in winter can become extremely cold as anyone can tell. Though they do have indoor seating, one of highlights for this cafe is the location and balcony. They do provide blankets for outside patrons; if you can manage through the cold winter chill.

Anyway, at this price (450yen for one coffee), it easily beats major coffee chains such as Starbucks, Pacific Coffee. I have no reservation in recommending it to anyone.

After the coffee, I spent some time checking out other cafés and tea houses in the vicinity, especially those with some history. I went into an antique British style tea house which I was truly amazed. It showcases tea of different kinds and most importantly, there is a big cabinet in which you can find tons of antique utensils and tableware. I heard some chatting voice from upstairs and it was Monday! As you can see, compared with Moto Coffee, here is quite busy and a bit noisier. I am not a fan of tea and don’t know much about tea otherwise I would have given it a go. They also sell some postcards and paper model imported from France.

It was getting dark so I decided to head for the bus station a bit earlier. I took the 8pm coach and that’s the end of my trip. Compared with the trips before, I didn’t do much in this one but I think it’s the quality rather than quantity that should count.

Moto Coffee:

Kitahama Lion Building
Kitahama 2 – 1 – 1
Chuo-ku, Osaka
Japan
Website: http://www.shelf-keybridge.com/motocoffee.html
Phone: +81 (0) 6-4706-3788