Floresta: Nature Doughnuts
The road of the green tourist can be arduous (and that's the environmentally, socially responsible kind - not the inexperienced). It is easy to appreciate how, when in Japan and where all product information is in kanji, one might let their commendable standards slip. Especially when it comes to something as seemingly inconsequential as a quick drink and sweet snack. Enter Floresta: Nature Doughnuts (yes, ‘doughnuts’, the original spelling dating from the 1800s).
From a humble beginning in 2002, with only three flavours sold from the back of a car at flea-markets in Osaka and Nara, Floresta now has dozens of different donuts and stores across Japan. The underpinning principle of Floresta is guilt-free enjoyment. Each aspect is carefully considered - from the commitment to less packaging, to ensuring no-artifical flavourings or sweetners are used, to sourcing local, organic ingredients. Not to mention that the donuts are seasonally tailored (for winter, stollen donuts... for the romantically inclined, orange and cranberry chocolate donuts available for St. Valentine's Day). The many types come from the relatively plain to the cutely decorated animal versions. Oh, and of course they're delicious.
The average donut costs about 180¥ but expect to pay up to 250¥ for those with more ingredients or intricate designs. If you're eating in, you'll also be treated to a little taster. The special ones change daily and if you intend to come back more than once, you can ask for their donut calendar (although it's in Japanese) to keep well informed.
The donuts are a little firmer and drier than you might expect compared to the average Western style (think Krispy Kreme / Mister Donut) but not unpleasantly so. Taste and texture-wise it might be better to view Floresta donuts as a cake-donut hybrid. Something with a little more substance behind it, which is perhaps necessary because Floresta's fairs are a tad smaller than the standard donut too. My personal favourite is kinako, roasted soy bean, flavour. It has a subtle nutty taste.
Floresta also offers ice-cream in milk and vanilla flavours. The bare bones selection (if, indeed, a choice between two even constitutes 'a selection') is again a reflection of Floresta's ethos: simplistic, naturally flavoured products. The dairy is all sourced from a single ranch in Kochi Prefecture, from a herd of Jersey cows. Whilst simple, the two flavours are rich and creamy. So, really, is there a need to throw anything else into the mix?
In terms of beverages, Floresta caters for both hot and cold weather. The coffee is an original blend supplied by Ogawa Coffee, a distributer based in Kyoto. Floresta's website describes how the mellow taste perfectly complements the donuts. But in reality it's a little lacking, though, perhaps worth the trade-off is to know that the beans are responsibly sourced. A coffee connesseur might instead opt for a matcha latte, cocoa or the highly recommended ginger and honey tea - it is made with fresh slices of ginger root and a dollop of organic nectar. Drink prices range from 330~430¥.
All in all, Floresta is the perfect pit stop for the eco-friendly, community conscious traveller. Whether grabbing a little something on-the-go or sitting inside, a visitor can enjoy their treat knowing every effort that has undergone into making their purchase as sustainable, fair-trade and organic as possible.