*Found in Former Kyoto Cafes
One mid-November last year when I was walking from huku cafe down 新町通Shinmachi Street, I came upon Caff…from what I could see in passing, they seem to be selling kitchen ware and serving coffee and tea (that’s what the sign outside said). If I hadn’t already eaten and drank enough at huku cafe, I would have stopped in for a cup of coffee; I made a mental note to go back sometime.
Not too long afterward, I saw a small article about it (it opened in March 2013) in a magazine at another cafe.Although I tried to remember where it was, I forgot exactly which part of Shinmachi Street, I looked for it when I went to huku cafe but I never spotted the sign outside that I saw before much less a shop that even resembled it.
Over four months later yesterday, I finally came upon it on my way to huku cafe; it was south of 綾小路通Ayanokoji Street. I decided to drop in for a cup of coffee. The exterior and interior were just as simple and clean (see top left and top center pictures), my kind of shop! To one side there was a counter of simple and clean yet stylish tableware goods (see top right picture). On the opposite side behind the front counter is a blackboard with the menu of just coffee and tea (see center right picture); ￥350 for coffee and ￥300 for tea were very reasonable prices to me.
The female manager who seemed to be managing the shop alone didn’t hear me come in, so I surprised her a bit with my “すみませんsumimasen (Excuse me.)”☺. I told her I wanted to have a cup of coffee and she informed me that all the beans except ブラジルBrazil was available…that was fine because I wanted to order エチオピアEthiopia.
While I waited for her to prepare my coffee at the only table (with four stools) in the place, she asked me where I was from…ahh, either my pronunciation of “Ethiopia” or the way I spoke gave me away as a non-Japanese☺. I told her I was from the States and we got into where in the States I’m from, how long I’ve been in Japan, what I do, etc. We also talked a little about her (she commutes to work from her family’s home in 宇治Uji).
She told me that the coffee served here are made with beans from WEEKENDERS COFFEE, one of the most famous coffee shops in Kyoto; since WEEKENDERS serve drip coffee for ￥450, Caff decided they couldn’t take more than ￥350 for a cup (although the price is due to change, but not by much at all, due to taxes rising to 8% next month). I asked if they were thinking of serving food (namely sweets) to go with the drinks eventually and she admitted to them thinking about it but for the time being they allow customers to bring food from other establishments to have in the shop.
Rather than pushing the café part of their shop, their main business is selling mostly 有田焼Arita-yaki (named so for being made in 有田Arita which is in 佐賀県Saga Prefecture in 九州Kyushu) bone china tableware. Caff was opened under HARAGUCHI TOUJIEN, a laboratory that develops products made from Arita-yaki in the hopes of spreading this craft of 400 years to the world. The designer of the products sold at the shop is 中坊壮介Sosuke Nakabo, a Kyoto-born product designer who even worked under Jasper Morrison in London before returning to Japan in 2010 to start his own design office; “Caff” which comes from the term for cafes in England was also designed by him.
The drinks are of course prepared with tools and served in cups with saucers on sale at the shop (see bottom left picture).
I told the manager that I want to write about the shop in my blog and she was thrilled to hear that. We exchanged name cards; mine has URLs for my blogs, so she can refer to it to check out the blog, especially the post on the shop.
Since reading about WEEKENDERS COFFEE in my café book as well as other magazines, I’ve been wanting to go but just haven’t had the time to make it out there…I’ll still go one day but for now I’ll be content having their coffee at Caff☺. They also do take-out coffee which I plan to take advantage of sometime.
Update: Two weeks since the first time I went, I passed Caff again on my way to huku cafe; there was a customer having coffee inside. The manager was at work but saw me wave. I decided I’d finally get some takeout coffee, especially since it was chilly and I still had to walk some.
I ordered the same coffee as last time although I had planned to order something else; the price is now ￥370, ￥20 more than before consumers tax rose from 5% to 8%. I asked what was going to happen when tax rose to 10%; she said she really didn’t want to charge people ￥400 a cup but she didn’t know yet. My take-out coffee came in a simply sophisticated cup like the wares at the shop (see bottom right picture); you probably can’t tell but this is a lot of coffee for that price.☺
She thanked me for writing about the shop in my blog; I was happy to hear that she saw it.
Update: It appears that this shop is now closed😢 but for more on the goods that used to be sold, check http://haraguchitoujien.co.jp/ .
Address: 〒600-8443 京都府京都市下京区新町綾小路下ル船鉾町384-1 Kyoto-fu. Kyoto-shi. Shimokyo-ku. Shinmachi. Ayanokoji-sagaru. Funeboko-cho 384-1
Telephone number: 075-741-7117
Fax number: 075-741-7111
Access: 地下鉄烏丸線四条駅・阪急線烏丸駅徒歩５分 5 minutes by foot from Subway Karasuma Line Shijo Station/Hankyu Line Karasuma Station
Business hours: Monday-Friday 11:00am-7:00pm
Café Holiday: Saturday & Sunday