the best kyoto coffee shops
Otherwise titled most instgrammable coffee shops in Kyoto, quiet Kyoto coffee shops and the art of Kyoto coffee.
How good is Kyoto. Like really. It has all the conveniences and variety of a city, while still dripping with old Japan beauty and charm. You can’t not like it. If you don’t like it let me know (you’re crazy.) It’s such a very special place and the thing about very special places is that you are not alone in adoring them. Over the last few years I notice tourists in Kyoto more than anywhere else in Japan. We’re literally crawling all over the city in competition for who can stuff the most matcha flavoured sweets into our suitcases and our mouths.
This is not a Kyoto guide, but my favourite things to do in Kyoto are eat, drink coffee, drink tea, ride bikes around and look at cute, handmade, beautiful things and maybe buy some of them. If you’re into high quality, locally made artisan anything – you’re going to want to save up some spending money for Kyoto, and you’ll certainly need coffee to fuel the shopping trips too. The temples are beautiful but you can find that information anywhere. My only advice for tourist attractions would be go really, really early in the morning to beat the crowds.
Let me also say I am generally not someone who would flippantly mention my love for bike riding like it aint no thing, but in Kyoto you must hire bikes to get around. Even the least comfortable bike rider will be sweet in Kyoto. The bikes are very easy to ride. It’s flat. You ride on the footpath. The city is basically a grid so its easy to navigate. Its cheap. You’re not allowed to ride on the busiest streets so you have a great excuse to hop off and wheel it in scary crowd situations (just me? Yep, great.)
I mentioned before that part of setting up this blog was to have a place to slowly document all the (long winded) answers to my Japan travel questions. I've had texts from people, while in Japan, standing outside of these shops being like "your coffee recommendation saved my LIFE." So here goes.
Such a Japanese location. It’s a converted an old wooden house that looks like it could be in an Ozu film, and it’s in the corner of a car park (sounds bad, is very good) with a small garden outside and a cute wooden seat you can take very sweet pictures on. It’s just outside of the main teramachi shotengai (covered shopping strip), close to all the greats – good vegan food, a cute little yoga studio, nishiki market (tofu donuts guys) and Tabi, a place where I go to spend my life savings on socks.
Definitely the trendiest and most upmarket of the bunch, and my favourite coffee for sure. They even sell their own brand of drip bags here to take home which are my guilty favourite. Only downside is no soy milk. If you're craving milky coffee, the café in Tamisa Yoga does a really good soy café au lait which is half strong drip coffee, half soy milk. They also have a good selection of vegan meals and sweet treats too! 7:30am-6pm.
This time last year I was actually in Kyoto. Every morning we’d wake up in futon on tatami floor, have a bath and take a bike ride down to Kurasu for iced soy lattes. Kurasu have bonsoy, they have chai and they have this matcha x espresso latte I really wish I tried, so it’s a great place if you’re travelling with non coffee people. Businesses in Japan are so brilliant at mastering and perfecting just one thing, many of the best coffee places only serve coffee which can be annoying for your travel buddies if they’re not into coffee themselves.
Staff are always keen for a chat, speak English and they sell a great selection of super gorgeous coffee accessories that I always want to buy until I’m like do I really need a $50 wooden coffee measuring scoop? (yes but maybe next time.) 8am-6pm.
HIGASHIAMA and ARASHIYAMA
Taste wise it’s not my most favourite but it’s still a pass (last check no soy milk or drip though this may have changed.) Including not only for high Instagram value but its nice to know of decent coffee around tourist attractions as generally there are few or zero options. If you plan to check out either of these two areas, early morning is totally the time to go. Early morning coffee is always nice stop wandering the old timey streets of Higashiyama and the view at the bamboo forest location is basically as Instagram friendly as you can get. 8am-6pm
Honourable mention goes of course to the new Blue Bottle location near Nanzen-ji Temple cause it looks stupidly amazing, but I haven’t been there yet.
What would you like to know about travelling in Japan? I may or may not be working on a top secret Japan something something so let me know. Also favourite coffee places in Kyoto I’ve missed? Please leave a comment!