Release Date: Aug 5, 2017
While at kissatens, some of the best times are had when you meet some of the Joren-san, i.e., the regular customers. In volume 3 of our kissaten series, I visit three of my favorite coffee shops to chat with some of the locals.
DUN AROMA, TORITSU-DAIGAKU
The beautiful Dun Aroma was founded about 20 years ago nearby Toritsu Daigaku station. Kaminaga-san, owner, took over 10 years ago and has been roasting and brewing ever since. Still in his 30s, Kaminaga-san is a lot younger than most of his customers and fellow kissaten masters. He weighs his beans precisely, clips the nel drip cloth filter onto the coffee stand without really having to look, and his brew style is one of the most beautiful to watch. I look to my right, smile and nod to the customer sitting next to me. She smiles back, we start talking and she says…
“I’ve been coming here on most days for the last 20 years, actually well before Kaminaga-san took over. I was born in Brazil and I drink my coffee a little differently to the way most people do in Japan, so the master roasts my beans in a special way just for me. He came over to my house a while back and showed me how to brew coffee properly. I like to make coffee at home in the morning, and I usually have my coffee here in the afternoon. I’ve done that for as long as I can remember.” – Togashi-san, regular customer of Dun Aroma.
OKU NO TOBIRA, NAKANO
The charm! I sit by the window at the back of the room, and really enjoy the pleasant breeze coming through. Noyama-san is dressed to the nines, and he serves me a beautiful coffee inside a beautiful cup that seems to have been repaired using Kintsugi; the art technique where broken cups or pottery are restored and brought back to life with powdered gold. He tells me that he broke the cup a while back, and one of his customers offered to fix it…. I mention how beautiful it is to which he replies: “I obviously broke it well!”. Suddenly, the front door opens and a couple of customers walk in, exchange familiar smiles with the owner, sit at the counter and I go up to join them…
“I’ve been coming here once or twice a week since a year after it opened.. probably some 40 years back. I buy my beans here, and I like to make coffee for my friends when they come over to visit me. A while back the owner actually gave me a nel drip to keep. And now I like making coffee using that. Nothing has really changed here… except the price of the coffee I guess, which is fine! Oh, and the master used to allow smoking here until he fell a bit sick, so then it changed to non-smoking about 4 years ago after he got better again. “ – Tamura-san, regular customer of Oku no Tobira.
“I’m 90 years old. I take a train and a bus to come here everyday. And I always have two cups of coffee while I’m here. It’s very delicious, just the way I like it. I used to make dolls. I’m getting a bit old now, so I can’t really do it anymore. But I can still make the trip here for coffee time, so I like doing that.” Suzuko-san, regular customer of Oku no Tobira.
Almost 20 years ago, Tombolo’s owner used to have his architectural office here. The wooden interior is a beautiful space to lay your eyes on with natural light filling the entire room. When the owner is not brewing coffee behind the counter, one of his sons takes the reins while his other son runs the cafe next door- which is a little more popular for lunch. Suddenly, a papillon, with a small array of flowers attached to a band on it’s back, runs in from the street. I meet the dog’s owner / regular customer Motoko-san, and I ask her about the flowers…
“I pick some flowers from my little garden at home each day, and bring them here for the cafe. The owner and his family always take care of my dog Verde-san… sometimes they even look after Verde for a few hours if I have to go somewhere. They usually prepare some food for my dog and attach an ear band over my dog’s ears so food doesn’t get stuck in the fur. On the menu today is chicken tenderloins. So, yeah, I always like to bring flowers.” -Motoko-san, regular customer of Tombolo.
Have you ever met any regular customers or had any interesting conversations at your local kissaten? Send me a message, please! -> email@example.com
Read Kissaten Vol.1 here: http://en.goodcoffee.me/column/vaughan/kissaten-vol-1/
Read Kissaten Vol.2 here: http://en.goodcoffee.me/column/vaughan/kissaten-vol-2/