Photo: すしぱく on Pakutaso

Coffee Time in Kyushu’s Travel Hub – 5 Fukuoka Based Cafes in Hakata Station

Welcome to Hakata Station, the largest transportation hub in Kyushu, where visitors transiting through Fukuoka can grab a quick drink that represents the city itself without ever leaving the station. Japanese cityscapes are heavily populated by numerous cafe chains from the domestically owned Cafe de Crie to the American behemoth, Starbucks.

With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to find a place to take a break from sightseeing that stands out from the pack. In this article, I suggest five cafes whose origins are in Fukuoka to visitors hoping to savour something local during their transit through Hakata Station. Whether it be a coffee, tea, snack, or meal, these cafes offer different aesthetics, specialties, and price points to delight visitors' varying taste buds and moods. 

Campbell Early キャンベルアーリー

This parfait and pancake specialty cafe, on the 9th floor of Kuuten, the restaurant dining area in JR Hakata City, is a fruit lovers’ dream. And it’s no wonder: Campbell Early (named after a variety of grape) itself is run by Nangoku Fruits, an 80-year-old Fukuoka company which chooses and imports fruits from Japan and worldwide with a focus on local delicacies from Kyushu. At this cafe, you can enjoy fresh and healthy desserts and brunches which use only the sweetest seasonal fruits, like a Hakata Amao strawberry parfait or pancakes served with sausages and a mini parfait of seasonal specialties. With their food, they also offer rotating seasonal fruit-infused teas, such as a grape-scented black tea. In addition, if you have time to linger for a date, they also serve fruit-based cocktails, both with alcohol and non-alcoholic, and their 9th floor store boasts beautiful views of the station complex and surrounding area if you are lucky enough to secure a window seat. Campbell Early is also a great place to bring your kids since they have a Kid’s Plate with decorated pancakes and lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as several high-chairs available for use.

REC

REC, a famous Fukuoka chain which began in 2008, was born of the owners’ desire to deliver the (“rec”-reational) experience of unforgettable coffee to many different people.  The Hakata Station branch of the cafe, situated cosily next to the HMV Music and Books in the KITTE/Marui complex, offers their exceptional coffee and sweets to people in transit as well. You can also taste-test samples of their wide and detailed varieties of coffees for sale here, alongside explanations from their knowledgeable staff. Although REC’s mainstay and specialty are their coffees, including their very own blends, such as the Hakata Blend (a medium roast blend of Brazilian, Honduran, and Ethiopian beans with citrus, caramel, and nut flavors), their desserts are also worth a second visit. Seasonal specialties, such as Kabocha cheesecake in the Fall and Strawberry Shortcake in the Winter, pair well with their flavorful drinks, such as their lattes and cappuccinos, all based in their velvety smooth coffee. Also check out the REC in Hakata Station for stellar coffee goods souvenirs, such as REC-branded mugs and their exclusive single-serve drip bag coffees. 

Panya Mutsukado Cafe パン屋むつか堂

Panya [bakery] Mutsukado is a famous Fukuoka bakery from the Yakuin area known for their delicious shokupan [loaves of white sandwich bread]. Besides the main store in Yakuin and a branch in the Fukuoka Airport, you can also find a cafe run by this bakery on the 5th floor of AMU Plaza in Hakata Station. While you can also buy their famous breads in this cafe, the Hakata branch is a cozy sit-down space with a wide variety of hot and cold drinks and bread-based snacks. While some of their toast toppings change seasonally, such as using Hakata Amao strawberry jam, others, such as thick-sliced butter toast, shio-anko [salt-sweet red bean] butter toast, and Hakata mentaiko [salted and spiced walleye pollack roe] toast, are delicious standards. Mutsukado Cafe also has a particularly decadent version of Japanese fruit sandwiches made with their thick and rich white bread which is then slathered with cream and filled with mixed fruits of varying colors, like canned mikan oranges, strawberries, and kiwis. Stop by if you’re in the mood for a homey snack in transit!

Corduroy Cafe コーデュロイカフェ

A Fukuoka chain based on the concept of an ever-evolving city cafe, Corduroy, which also has branches in Daimyo and the Tenjin Parco, is a hip coffeeshop with a relaxed vibe. The Hakata branch is on the B1 (basement) floor of KITTE and is open from 7 am to midnight! Their long opening hours are also mirrored in their menu which includes an extensive alcohol list as well as light seasonal meals and of course cafe fare, such as coffees, teas, and desserts. For their mains and daily lunch specials, they have a focus on fresh vegetables paired with meat, such as spring vegetables and pork loin steak. Their cafe drinks are also delicious and popular for their adorable latte art. And, if you’re feeling like satisfying your sweet tooth, their fluffy ricotta pancakes are excellent and come with a variety of toppings! This is not the best place to bring the family, however, as it is only non-smoking between 11 am and 2 pm.

Cafe Regent/Noda Coffee House カフェレジャン珈琲のだ

Noda Coffee House, first founded in Fukuoka in 1966, still maintains its main store in the Daimyo area. But, luckily, for those just passing through Hakata, they opened a branch in the Hakata Hankyu Department Store which also partners with the Yakuin patisserie, Regent, and offers romantic views of the station complex from its large windows. Noda specializes in high quality and meticulously prepared siphon coffee, of which this branch offers many different varieties depending on your preferred taste and origin of coffee. Everything at this cafe is orchestrated to perfection, from the cooled cream to add to your coffee and their shining white china. The desserts as well are exceptional, with Japanese cafe favourites, like strawberry shortcake and mille-crepes, executed beautifully by Regent. Perhaps the fan favorite is the Noda Roll Cake, which is made with an infusion of Noda’s coffee, blending the rich yet somehow light Regent cakes with the flavors of this coffeeshop. You can also buy the cakes and gift-sized coffee drip bags of their blends at the front of the store to take home with you!  

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