TOPFood & DrinkRestaurants & BarsThe Coffee Guide to Sapporo

The Coffee Guide to Sapporo

A coffee expert shares his seven favorite coffee shops in Hokkaido's capital city

By Andy Cheng

The cold and snowy weather of Hokkaido lends itself to a dark roast coffee culture. People say the dark and bitter taste of coffee keeps them warm during the cold winter. Additionally, more coffee shops have started roasting and brewing light roast coffee too, from Geisha to Anaerobic fermented beans. The rise of these trends has led to a richer more varied coffee scene. Here are some of our personal suggestions as a coffee guide to Sapporo.

coffee guide to sapporo

The Relay

Climbing the stairway of a small, unassuming building in the backstreets of Sapporo, leads to The Relay. Here, they showcase various coffee from all over Japan. Every month, two roasters from different cities in Japan are selected, with each roaster showcasing three different beans. The barista carefully explains the brewing process, taking you through each step. Customers are free to ask for any tips or tricks in making their own coffee, which makes The Relay one of the most educational and insightful coffee experiences in Sapporo.

After your coffee is brewed, you have a selection of cups to choose from enhancing various aspects of your cup of coffee — one for sweetness, one for body, and lastly, fruitiness.

The whole experience is more than just a simple cup of coffee. It’s an insight into the process of making that special brew from choosing the beans to choosing the right cup for them.

Where: 17−1-11 KIta 4 Jonishi, Chuo-ku

coffee guide to sapporo

Alchemist Coffee

Alchemist Coffee also offers a unique twist compared to the ordinary coffee shop. Known as “coffee counseling,” patrons can choose up to three different types of beans to taste and it’s all for free. After sampling the three coffees, the customer can choose which bean they would like to buy and take home. Alternatively, takeout coffee is available.

Twelve different beans are available, ranging from light roast to dark ones. Having the opportunity to drink and compare three different roasts at once is not widely available and gives a real insight into the contrasting flavors of coffee. Customers can experience the different fruity and floral tastes of an Ethiopian to the most popular, dark Indonesian Mandheling.

The baristas guide you through the coffee counseling process, answering any questions you may have — from roasting the beans to brewing techniques. All the equipment is readily available for anyone to purchase and use at home, making high-quality coffee an everyday experience.

Where: 13-5-18 Miyanomori 3 Jo, Chuo-ku

Standard Coffee Lab coffee guide to sapporo

Standard Coffee Lab

Owner and head barista, Satoru Oiso, opened his flagship store in Fujino, Sapporo. Here he started roasting and selling his specialty coffee, which led to his next shop Coffee & Wine Standard Coffee Lab in the heart of Sapporo. The coffee is absolutely delicious and pairs perfectly with the baked goods on offer, such as canelé or gâteau au chocolat.

Various seasonal beans are all available as drip coffee or as espresso and the lattes come with stunning latte art. Standard Coffee Lab is passionate about using the power of coffee to brighten the customers’ day or give them an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Coffee lovers are free to ask any of the baristas about their seasonal beans and brewing techniques. There are even classes available to practice your coffee-making skills.

Where: 7-7-4 Minami 3 Jonishi, Chuo-ku

coffee guide to sapporocoffee guide to sapporo

Ace Coffee Roaster

Located in a narrow alleyway on the eastern outskirts of Sapporo, Ace Coffee Roaster is home to some of the best coffee around. The highly knowledgeable owner and barista Keisuke roasts the coffee in-house, brews and also bakes some delicious treats all by himself. The dim atmosphere is paired with soft jazz music, allowing you to enter the realm of Keisuke’s coffee world. A wide variety of beans are available to drink, from light roast to dark roast and even anaerobic fermented beans.

Each cup of coffee comes with a complimentary Biscoff biscuit, a perfect finishing touch.

Where: 13-7-18 Hiragishi 3 Jo, Toyohira-ku

coffee guide to sapporo

coffee guide to sapporo

Small Things Coffee

A quaint little coffee shop on the east side of Sapporo is the perfect place to relax. The bright and wooden interior is accompanied by an array of plants, creating a homely atmosphere. Drip coffee, espresso-based drinks and various soft drinks are available, accompanied by some small treats such as lemon cake and cookies. A perfect little place for a coffee break.

Where: 11−15−35 Kita 1 Johigashi, Chuo-ku

coffee guide to sapporo

Baristart Coffee

If you are a lover of milk coffee drinks, look no further than Baristart. The small coffee stand in the city center places a strong emphasis on Hokkaido’s famous dairy products. Milk connoisseur Yuuki Takeuchi selects various kinds of milk from Jersey, Holstein, Guernsey and other regions. The most recommended milk is pasteurized Jersey milk, which is rich, velvety and deliciously creamy. Baristart’s care for milk makes for some fantastic lattes, cappuccinos and even milk brews. This love for dairy products can also be enjoyed through the snacks available such as the café’s famous Basque Cheesecake.

Where: 4-8 Minami 1 Jonishi, Chuo-ku

Yokoi Coffee 1 coffee guide to sapporo

Yokoi Coffee

Yokoi Coffee is one of the longest-standing and most famous coffee roasters in Sapporo. Originally, Mr. Yokoi started as a coffee roaster in his own home in western Sapporo. In time, his coffee grew in popularity, which developed into a second shop located in Sapporo Station. From drip coffee to espresso, from light roast to dark, Yokoi Coffee has it all. Along with some traditional bake treats, they have seasonal item menus such as coffee jelly parfait and various pound cakes.

The Sapporo Station store is a great location for taking a break from your travels or shopping with a delicious cup of coffee. Venturing out to the flagship store reveals a more homely atmosphere, as that is actually Mr. Yokoi’s home. You can purchase some of Yokoi Coffee’s roasted beans or, if you are lucky, watch them roast.

Where: 4, Kita 6 Jonishi, Kita-ku


All photos by the writer. 

Coffee lovers, while you’re here, check out these Tokyo coffee guides: