Wednesday, April 3, 2013

•{K▢ffee}•

'K' in the K▢ffee stands for Kunitomo; and the square is a symbol for kiosk box.



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The first time I allowed myself to admit that Starbucks is overrated, was when I discovered I brewed way better coffee than they ever did. And that's using their coffee beans. 

The first time I swore off Starbucks was when Jessica's roommate, Arti, invited me to have a cup of coffee before leaving their apartment. I did. It was nothing like I've brewed before, so I asked her what coffee beans she used. She got it from Steep & Brew. I then had Jessica take me to State St. in Madison where Steep & Brew has been brewing since the 80s. I've been ordering their beans since, finding ways and means to have it shipped to our house. More recently, through my mother-in-law; bless her for always keeping a look out at their local grocery store.

The last time I swore off Starbucks was after my first sip of Eiichi Kunitomo's café mocha.

Jessica messaged me out of the blue like we usually do. In it she gave me the link that led me to Omotesando K▢ffee.
I checked out the list of Heidi's favorite places in Tokyo and I saw the word 'Koffee'. Anything pertaining to coffee will have me, right off the bat. I 'googled' Omotesando K▢ffee and it seemed like it is Tokyo's best kept secret. All reviews raved about it as the best coffee they've had. Its popularity is blog-wide; blogs from people who go around places on a coffee trail and from people who just love coffee and sometimes from coffee aficionados. Naturally, I was drawn. What made me even more excited was that this place was something to be hunted down. The fact that it wasn't out there made it more appealing. It is concealed by residential houses, to be uncovered by GPS. Me, I lve holes-in-the-wall, it's like discovering a secret garden, yours to enjoy and no one else's. This coffee shop, is it.

I set out plotting how to get there, first locating where it is and then checking which station it was closest to. And for anyone who might care to take a gander, Omotesando K▢ffee is right behind Omotesando Hills, get off Omotesando Station and take exit A2. Then use Google Maps to locate the café at the residential area.

My next worry was, whether or not I was going to take on this hunt by myself or with The Hubb. Being in the Navy, nothing is concrete; we can't schedule anything as early as a week before date planned. I had to wait. I planned on going that weekend but I didn't want to get my hopes up only to be in vain. So I waited for the final word on Friday. Nothing was in vain! On Friday, The Hubb told me they were going to have the weekend off. Believe me, living the Navy life, that is something I jump for joy for.

We took JR to take us to Tokyo and the Ginza Line to take us to Omotesando Station. My plan was to cover lunch first at MAiSEN, also reviewed by many as the best tonkatsu in Japan, including our very own Rajo Laurel. When we got to the area, it was high time for lunch so we dropped by MAiSEN and had mouth-watering grub. (insert review here, currently writing) 

I didn't linger, like I usually do after eating. I was so looking forward to that coffee! Also, my head was feeling the embers of a migraine, my body transmitting to my brain that it's time for my caffeine. So I felt like I was in limbo between rushing and taking my time to relish the moment when I "find" the hole-in-the-wall coffee shop. I made sure to take a picture to truly capture and remember the moment.
There it was, right smack in the middle of houses. These residents are so lucky, to have in their reach, coffee brewed in this house.

We stepped in and everything was so zen.
Complete with a statue of a mother and baby frog that made me jump, biting my lip to keep from yelping, saving The Hubb from embarrassment. It was on the rocks behind that bench! 
Who here also think they look real...
To complement the feel, the interior of the shop embraced minimalism.
Notice, even no cash register.
Just the owner/barista behind the counter with his machine. The Hubb and I watched him make coffee. It was like watching him make art -- coffee is his art. He was intent, making every cup he brewed get to the peak of its potential.
The Hubb wished that we could have recorded him. It was a sight to see, I have never seen anyone make coffee the way he did. Sure, Japanese have always been known to give their utmost when it comes to service but I've seen the baristas at other coffee shops here and none compare to Kunitomo-san.



Omotesando K▢ffee goodies.



We each ordered coffee, I had a hot one and The Hubb had cold, must be the Wisconsin blood in him. The day we went was definitely around 10°C and I couldn't bear to take in anything icy. 
Drink all gone.
My café mocha was perfect. No hint of acidity, mocha didn't overpower the distinct taste of coffee. It was smooth as silk on my taste buds. Like I said, perfect. I almost didn't want to finish my cup off, knowing I was going to run out of this work of art. But I did, in the end. It was bittersweet.
Café mocha with kashi (baked custard) in coffee filter.

Here is me with the master brewer:
very modest, no pretense at all. Just him doing his passion. His coffee shop is definitely a mirror of him, unadulterated behind the fancy-schmancy shops of Omotesando.

Omotesando K▢ffee was only meant to be a temporary fixture in the neighborhood. Owner Kunitomo-san designed it as a pop-up kiosk, giving it the ability to literally pop-out and to move out, popping in to another area of Japan. Ideally, it could also be Nagaura K▢ffee or Zushi K▢ffee. The house it is in right now has been scheduled to be demolished since 2010 but Omotesando K▢ffee has gained popularity that people have been expressing its desire to make it a permanent café in the area.

Who knows where this K▢ffee could pop up in the future.