Photo: すしぱく on Pakutaso

3 Unique Coffee Shops in Kanazawa That You Should Visit

Due to recent infrastructural development and enhanced promotion, Kanazawa is becoming more and more popular among tourists. Not only for travelers from foreign countries but also among Japanese visitors, the interest in Ishikawa’s capital city has grown over the past years. Therefore, Kanazawa’s city center is changing a lot these days, and the number of individual coffee shops is increasing steadily. Not only international tourists seem to crave a special place where they can enjoy some nice coffee but also the citizens of Kanazawa are very interested in the enjoying a cup at a local coffee shop besides the regular and well-known coffee shop chains.

As I am a coffee addict myself, I love exploring the city and trying out new coffee places. In this article, I want to introduce three unique coffee shops that are my favorites and that I highly recommend for a visit! Not only do they have coffee that tastes fantastic – the owners create a welcoming atmosphere and transform your visit into a special experience.

Keep in mind, that this list is based on my personal experiences and reflects my opinion. As I am a regular visitor to all these places and enjoying my regular cup of coffee there, I know all places personally very well and am very happy to tell you about it!

Curio Espresso and Vintage Design Café

This popular coffee place, located close to Kanazawa station and Omicho fish market, opened in 2004 and has been a success ever since. It’s run by Sol, who is originally from Seattle, US and his wife Yuko, who is Japanese, but had lived 15 years in Seattle before returning. Their reason for opening this coffee place? They wanted to implement the Seattle styled coffee culture, that they both love very much in this city and establish a place for travelers of all kinds where they can have a short break, enjoy coffee and get connected to other foreigners and locals. The café occupies the ground floor of a two-story building and offers tables and cozy sofas to sit as well as a bar directly at the window (my favorite spot for watching what’s going on outside).

Soon after opening their café, it became famous and is visited by international people as well as local citizens alike. As soon as you enter the coffee shop, you immediately realize why it is so popular: Yuko and Sol have created a cozy coffee shop with a warm and welcoming atmosphere and even during their busiest hours you never have the feeling to be just another anonymous guest.

What is the secret of their coffee? The coffee beans are fully customized by a local supplier, developed in an elaborate process and therefore unique for the whole area. It’s as special blend, consisting of different flavored beans that are roasted individually. Classic drinks like Espresso, variations like Café Latte and special drinks like Cinnamon Latte are available, both hot and cold. Accompanied by a diverse food menu, this place is perfect for having a nice breakfast, lunch or dessert! If you don’t know what to order, the friendly staff always has a suiting recommendation for you. All ingredients come from local suppliers and every meal is prepared in-house from scratch. And you will taste this in every bite.

Curio Coffee
I enjoyed a Café Latte, my favorite drink at this place. 

The coffee shop is closed in the evening but sometimes, Sol and Yuko make an exception and open their shop for the “Open Mic Night”, which is a perfect opportunity if you want to test your musical skills. Check out their Facebook page for the upcoming event!

Location: 1-13 Yasuecho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan 920-0854

Opening hours: Mon, Wed – Fri: 8 am till 5pm; weekend: 9am till 5pm (Sun: 3pm)

Dumbo Café

Behind the busy and loud avenue of Kanazawa’s shopping district Korinbo, you can find the cozy coffee shop called “Dumbo Café”. Miki and Takashi, a nice Japanese couple, run this place that is the result of their love for the coffee culture of New York City’s Brooklyn: Miki went to college in New York while Takashi was enamored by the city’s coffee culture during various visits. To bring this spirit back to Kanazawa, they opened Dumbo Café in 2011 and are offering not only coffee but also hand made sweets like cakes or brownies.

The place offers two floor seating’s: at the first floor, you can sit next to the bar and have a chat with the owner if you want. The second floor offers various tables to sit and even some book shelves, if you are on your own and just want to read a bit while enjoying your coffee. From the second floor, you have a nice view of the small but always busy street outside.

Dumbo Coffee

Dumbo uses coffee beans that are produced by the Brooklyn Roasting Company, a famous roasting company which also has a branch in Japan. At my last visit, I enjoyed the regular blend coffee, but they also offer a fantastic cafe latte, which is one of their most popular drinks, according to Miki, as well as other mixed coffee drinks (hot and cold). You can also buy special seasonal drinks like Cinnamon Latte in Fall as well as seasonal sweets like Ginger Bread in Winter. Check their special menu or ask for a seasonal recommendation! Also, check their Facebook page for updates.

Dumbo Coffee
The regular blend coffee – delicious flavor!

But why did they choose to call their coffee place Dumbo? The name Dumbo is an acronym and meaning “Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass”, a place in New York that the couple enjoyed very much. As a small stream is running along just in front of the coffee shop place that you have to cross to get to your coffee, they considered it a fitting name.

Location: 2 Chome-11-6 Korinbo, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan 920-0961

Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Sun: 10am till 6 am; Tue: closed

Higashide Coffee

Behind the busy Omicho fish market, just two minutes to walk by foot, you can discover a truly unique coffee place called Higashide Coffee. It’s run by a small Japanese team, established in the year 2007 and very popular especially among residents, who value the taste of the coffee as well as the “kissaten” like atmosphere. This coffee place is a roastery and a shop at the same time. You can buy beans from more than 20 different origins, listed in order of roast (from dark to light) but also enjoy your coffee on-site and experience the atmosphere by yourself. The coffee is in the ground floor of a small two-story building and offers tables as well as a large counter where you can watch the staff prepare the delicious smelling coffee.

The shop offers various coffee flavors but also the “classic” coffee drinks like Café Latte or Cappuccino can be found on the menu. My personal highlight is the Vienna-styled coffee with cream: this taste transports you to the old-fashioned coffee houses of Vienna. If you like this kind of coffee, you should try it! The recommendation of the master however is the Higashide Blend: this mixture is produced by beans from Africa but also South America and creates a unique flavor. Of course, you can get most drinks in hot or cold version.  A dessert of the day is also offered – just ask the staff for the daily special!

Higashide Coffee
Evoking memories of my time in Vienna with the Vienna styled coffee

Higashide gets their coffee beans from a coffee company based in Tokyo called Baha (バハ) . The coffee beans are all freshly roasted on-site by the master himself and you can even watch the whole process as the big roasting machine is placed in the bay window of the shop. Even if you don’t like coffee, watching the machine work is fascinating!

This place is so popular as the master and his team not only show a high knowledge of coffee roasting and coffee flavors, but also because the customer service is amazing. From the way the coffee is made and presented to the guest, the whole experience makes you feel special. Therefore, I truly recommend you to visit this coffee shop and enjoy a break you will never forget.

The shop opens in the early morning and is closed on Sundays. If you want to visit Omicho Fish Market, make sure that you stop by at this place to enjoy a nice break with delicious coffee!

Location: 42 Jikkenmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan 920-0906

Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 8am till 7 pm; Sun: closed

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