Before we left for Japan. I didn’t have the slightest clue that any sort of coffee culture existed there. I assumed we would have green tea served with every meal, but you know what they say: when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.
One of the things that struck me most about Japanese culture was the attention that is put into every little thing. Everyone is extremely devoted to what they are doing, be it serving lunch or washing the floors. You get the vibe that there is a greater good that every individual person is a contributing to. How it should be, right? No matter how small a man (or woman's) job is, they take it seriously. This was evident through the quality and cleanliness of eateries in the train station, bathrooms in public parks, and more. If you’ve ever seen Jiro Dream’s of Sushi, you know that an apprentice will train in rice cooking for 10 years before he can put together a single piece of sushi. 10 years!! See the connection? An extreme appreciation for craftsmanship. In the States, we’re always hoping to absorb information quickly. Just think about all the 30-second cooking videos on the internet. You don’t want to see the person cooking, or hear their voice, or learn the backstory to the recipe. You just want to quickly learn how to make healthy chicken marsala and move on with your day. Slightly different, right?
When my brother, who lived in Kyoto for 5 months, walked us into a parking lot for “the best latte in Kyoto” I was skeptical, but excited. A parking lot? I was stunned when we entered. Towards the back left hand corner thrived was a mini oasis. No sign visible, just a huge, beautiful hole in the wall. Except Weekenders Coffee wasn't your typical whole in the wall. It wasn’t grungy, loud, or dark. It was airy, light, covered in greens. A Marzocco machine (typically the sign of a solid coffee shop) seemed like it held the fort down, as if without it’s substantial weight, our barista and his chemex might float away. Was I in Williamsburg? This coffee shop really transported me back home for a moment, except it was calmer, it seemed less public. There was no one around taking photos of their latte (except me), few Japanese hipsters in sight. The coffee was strong and bold, exactly what I was looking for when the 4PM slump hit me. We were walking an average of 13K miles a day on our adventure, and my body was kind of always in need of a boost. My brother got some sort of crazy turbo coffee that was almost too good.
There are no chairs or places to sit in this coffee shop, only benches, and some concrete sitting slabs we parked on. And so we sat, cinco amigos in the parking lot, sipping our expert coffee, breathing in the serenity.
What are the most memorable coffee shops around the world you've been to?