The ancient capital city of Japan, Kyoto, is filled with coffee hot spots everywhere — north to south, east to west. You get everything from coffee shop chains to the traditional kissaten (喫茶店), a Japanese-stye coffee shop. The hustling and bustling Tokyo is nice and all, but Kyoto takes it down a notch — everything about the city, including its coffee, focuses on the slow and therapeutic process.
If you ever find yourself in Kyoto with a dying need for a cup of coffee, here are the 9 best coffee places that are dedicated to the Japanese aspects of high quality and hospitality.
First on the list, we have Vermillion Espresso Bar — a list of Kyoto’s coffee places wouldn’t be complete without the mention of this amazing coffee place. There are two Vermillion coffee places, a cafe and an espresso bar, located within walking distance of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, making it the perfect break spot after a long day of sightseeing,
The name “Vermillion” is to refer to the deep red of the torii gates at the shrine. Both locations offer coffee, of course, as well as cakes and toast. You can get everything from pour-over coffee to espresso — one of their bestselling coffees is the matcha latte which uses green tea from Uji City located in the south of Kyoto Prefecture.
2. WEEKENDERS CAFE
Another famous coffee shop in Kyoto is WEEKENDERS CAFE. This hidden cafe can be found at the back of a parking lot just around the corner of Tominokoji-dori. To get there, the nearest station is Kawaramachi station and you’d have to walk about 10 minutes — not too far at all.
Opened in 2005, this coffee shop aims to bring artisan coffee to Kyoto and is one of the most reputable coffee shops among local residents. Tons of other cafes use their beans in their store as well — Vermillion is one of them! Pioneer of the Scandinavian type of lighter roast coffee in Kyoto, this minimalistic aesthetic in everything that they do is what keeps the customers coming back.
3. Inoda Coffee
Just a 10-minute walk from Karasumaoike Station, Inoda Coffee is one not to miss out on. This long-established coffee place is extremely popular among locals and tourists alike — they have tons of branches all around the country, but their main store is in the ancient city.
Their speciality coffee is one with sugar and milk, making the coffee richer and more flavorful — while you can drink it straight, why not try their number one rated menu option, the Arabian Pearl?
4. Ogawa Coffee
If you can’t be bothered going so far from the main area and need a quick fix at Kyoto Station, head on down to Ogawa Coffee. Conveniently located and delicious coffee, this stylish coffee shop is one of the most popular ones in town.
What’s more, you’ll have your coffee served by the world championship barista, so don’t worry about not getting a decent cup of coffee at the station — this one’s pretty much a done-deal. You can get everything from espresso to hand drip coffee, as well as food to match if you’re in the mood for a small snack.
With two locations in the city, Kurasu is a buzzing topic among the locals. One located just a five-minute walk from Kyoto Station and the other near Fushimi Inari Shrine, this coffee shop gets all the buzz.
I’d recommend the one near the shrine as it also houses their roastery. Kurasu began as a humble online shop selling Japanese coffee equipment, but now it has even outgrown the local market and dived into the international one. The owner is truly dedicated to combining the experience of a traditional kissaten and the modern trends of a coffee shop.
Nothing beats a cup of coffee after a stroll around the Kyoto Botanical Gardens — located just across the river from that, WIFE&HUSBAND coffee is a small, hidden cafe in the northeast of the city. They have a pretty simple menu: pour-over coffee with homemade toast with butter, honey or cheese.
The coffee beans at this cafe are roasted by the owners themselves, who, as you can tell, are a married couple. Sitting at this cafe is like visiting a friend’s home — the comfy, cosy atmosphere is thanks to the antiques hanging on walls and the self-service picnic equipment that you can use on a nice sunny day.
7. Murmur Coffee
You’ll love it here, trust me. This coffee shop is kind of like the romanticized version of a traditional kissaten. Murmur Coffee has everything you’d expect from a full-on traditional Japanese experience — the sliding doors, the wooden structure, the expertly-brewed coffee.
Located just by the Takase River, you’ll not only get an amazing cup of coffee but also a spectacular view to boot. There are also food options on the menu, so it’s the perfect place for a relaxing morning breakfast or for a coffee break in the day.
8. Dongree Coffee
Dongree Coffee is quite raging recently — located nearby Kiyomizu-Gojo Station, this coffee shop is the only one you need to go to if you’re in the area. This hipster-esque coffee shop only serves hand drip coffees, as do all specialty coffee shops in Kyoto.
If you’re looking for a laid-back ambience with a chance to practice your coffee tasting palates, this is the place for you. There are roasts of different flavours and levels, so you’re sure to find one that you’d fall deeply in love with.
9. % ARABICA
Last but not least is & ARABICA coffee shop. This one is extremely popular — so popular that they don’t only have one store but three in Kyoto alone! If you’re in Higashiyama, Arashiyama and Kyoto Fujii Daimaru, you can get your fix at one of their stores!
Their lattes are the best option on the menu, made by Custom Slayer espresso machines. Sometimes, if it gets quite busy, some of their menu options like lemonades get sold out in the middle of the day, so come by early! You could also buy beans from them and make your own cup of % ARABICA coffee at home.
Everything from modern-style coffee shops to kissaten-influenced ones, Kyoto has it all. So whatever your coffee cravings are, this culturally rich city can satisfy it. With this list of the best 9 coffee shops in Kyoto, you can start your coffee journey in the city!