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Japan Travel: 7 Cafés To Try in Kyoto

Café hopping in Kyoto never looked so sweet

By Samantha Low

The spiritual center of Japan’s culture and heritage, Kyoto is renowned for its abundance of green tea. It’s also a city that houses a surprising number of cafés promoting coffee culture, pastries and other snackable delights. Whether you’re on the lookout for a freshly brewed cup of caffeine, the next remote work station or a cozy nook to read in, these seven cafés in Kyoto will have you covered.

 

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1. Unir

For quality gourmet coffee, look towards Unir, an independent coffee roaster with its headquarters in Kyoto. The name of this brand is rooted in the Spanish word unir meaning “link.” This conveys the brand’s desire to connect customers with their unique and aromatic blends. There are four branches in Kyoto to choose from, all with slightly distinct atmospheres but the same minimalistic and calm vibe.

 

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2. Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya

The name of this global chain might not bring much excitement to the hearts of coffee aficionados but the beauty of this particular Starbucks Kyoto outpost is one that needs to be seen to be believed. Opened in 2017, the Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Chaya is a two-story Starbucks built inside a reformed traditional Japanese house. You’ll likely do a double-take as you may not notice it the first time. Inside there are various rooms of different chairs and tatami orientations plus classic Japanese motifs in the art and pottery. The menu might be similar to every other Starbucks in Japan but keep an eye out for some limited-edition Kyoto-exclusive merchandise.

3. Walden Woods Kyoto

Based on the concept of freedom and the individual journey, Walden Woods Kyoto aims to create a space to allow its customers to feel that sense of escape through a simple and clean atmosphere. Their coffee here is single-origin and carefully roasted to uphold the quality of the beans sourced. The café believes that a single cup is enough to satiate any guest. For the tea drinkers among us, their handmade chai is not one to ignore. Made with a rich blend of spices, herbs and dried fruit plus the Walden Woods original syrup, this is certainly a hot drink to savor.

 

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4. Vegginy

Vegans and discerning vegetable diners should take note of the plant-based café and deli Vegginy. Many come for their Buddha bowls and indulgent hummus sandwiches but stay for sweet accompaniments like their chunky apple cinnamon raisin muffin. The menu changes frequently so it’s advisable to check out their Instagram feed or to drop them a message before going.

5. Me me me

Behind its rusty chic wooden exterior lies Me me me, a coffee house and all-day breakfast café. The menu features an eclectic mix of sandwiches, granola and a hearty breakfast plate. All come in generous portions that are sure to fill you up. Drink-wise, you can look forward to the usual suspects plus the coveted Prana Chai, hailing all the way from Australia. If you’re a fan of the café and what it stands for, be sure to follow their Instagram account. Me me me regularly posts the dates of their next Instagram Live where they discuss current topics in Japanese.

6. Café Bibliotic Hello!

Bookworms will rejoice within the hallowed comforts of Café Bibliotic Hello! The expansive café and bakery is furnished with several large floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The generous menu features a variety of sweets and savories including fruit tarts, pasta and freshly baked bread. The best part about Cafe Bibliotic is truly its layout which features lots of natural light, making it the perfect venue to curl up over coffee and a good book.

 

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7. Kaikado Café

For a truly refined Kyoto Chaya experience, look no further than Kaikado Café. The origins of Kaikado date all the way back to 1875, during the Meiji Restoration. Today this family-run business is revered as a pioneer in tinplate canisters used to store tea. The café is naturally centered around green tea but also on the menu, you’ll find refined Japanese sweets such as monaka and yokan. The tea caddies themselves are also purchasable at the café or from their online store.


Top and feature image by Phuong D. Nguyen // Shutterstock