Fresh Beans in Kumamoto

by | Feb 17, 2024

K Coffee shop in Kumomoto Japan

Japan loves coffee. Being Japan, the coffee takes on a profound importance that can only be matched with some very specific rituals. Each roaster does their thing. Each coffee a potential masterpiece.

K Coffee in Kumamoto has an unassuming location, hidden away in a residential area but highlighted by a 4.9 rating on Google maps. Visitors to the tiny store are met by an array of un-roasted beans in open wooden boxes. The owner stands quietly behind the counter, awaiting an opportunity to help in broken English. He is wired, either by caffeine or pure anticipation, like border collie awaiting a thrown ball. I scout the beans, pretending I can speak Japanese and pick some I might like. Waving my phone screen at him with the words ‘Medium Roast, Espresso’ translated into the local hieroglyphics. He asks me some more questions, spins around wagging his tail, and then sets off.

A scoop of my requested beans is carefully added to a tiny roasting machine at the back of the store. Roasted to order. Whilst they await their first crack, the server is busy making me a small black pour-over which I sip while browsing the beautifully packaged accessories on neighbouring shelves. The beans, once done, are double-handed to me in his palms. Presented like a religious artifact. They smell amazing.

As I exit the store, I instinctively reach for the door to close it behind me, only to realise it’s unnecessary. In typical Japanese small-business fashion, the owner has accompanied me to assist me exit his store, a common gesture of courtesy. Bowing repeatedly to express genuine gratitude for my patronage. An act of respectful deference that paradoxically humbles me. A poignant reminder of Japan’s unique cultural nuances, subtly asserting itself as a land where there are no mundane interactions.

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