A cup of coffee Ghibli style in Koenji

As a coffee lover, I spend a significant time of my life either drinking it or searching for the best places to enjoy a good cup of it.  Recently, I was very fortunate to stumble upon Koral Café, this tiny and curious café in the neighbourhood of Koenji in Tokyo.

Located in what seems like a rundown wooden shack just a couple of metres off from the Shotengai in Koenji, stepping into Koral Café feels like stepping into the fantasy world of Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki.

As you walk through the narrow entrance, Kumiko-san, the owner and charismatic barista will greet you with the biggest smile I have ever received at a café. Kumiko-san is not very fluent in English nor other languages but she’ll make a serious effort to talk a few words or will quickly hand over the multilingual menu.  And she won’t be alone…at Koral Café you will run into very random and very interesting locals and regulars, all of whom seem to be taken straight out of one of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animate movies.  The woman hiding her smile while pretending to read the newspaper but discretely gazing over the “Amerikanjin”;  Kumiko-san’s best buddy who can speak several languages and serves as the unofficial translator for foreigners; or the student who just sits and smiles at every comment from older regulars…

And let’s not forget about the coffee of course…If your are picky about the cremma in your americano or are looking for the latest in latte art, this might not be the place for you.   At Koral’s you will only find good old drip coffee, maybe from Colombia, or Costa Rica, or Brazil, the regions vary…but what doesn’t vary is the highly old-fashion but very technical procedure (see photos) Kumiko-san employs to brew your very own cup of coffee.  You might think she just forgot your order while chatting up with her friends…just be patient, the process takes a bit longer than usual, but is worth the wait.  In the meantime enjoy all the vintage items and the entertaining environment typical of the old Japanese establishments.

And if you feel like satisfying your sweet tooth, ask for the home-made pancake with vanilla ice cream.  This option (ice cream) is not on the menu but with a big smile  Kumiko-san will give in and prep you one.

Come to Koenji and visit Koral Café…a coffee experience you will never forget!

 

Al que madruga Dios le ayuda en la Central de Abastos de Bucaramanga – Rise and shine at the Central Food Market in Bucaramanga

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Aunque a veces cuesta madrugar, siempre he sentido que comenzar el día temprano me brinda cierta satisfacción.  Ver como la gente va llenando las calles, como los negocios van abriendo sus puertas y como la vida cotidiana va comenzando, son uno de mis placeres favoritos.   La reciente visita a la Central de Abastos de Bucaramanga (Colombia), Centroabastos, fue una experiencia inolvidable.  Fue muy gratificante ver como los agricultores, comerciantes, coteros, y un sinfín de emprendedores se reúnen fielmente en esta plaza para que los santandereanos podamos disfrutar de los alimentos exquisitos y frescos que caracterizan a  la región.

La rutina diaria en Centro Abastos comienza temprano.   Las puertas abren a las 3am y las frutas y las verduras no se hacen esperar.  Tampoco se hace esperar el frenesí de la gente…descargan bultos por un lado, regatean por el otro, hacen cuentas, cierran negocios, gozan entre ellos, y sudan hasta la última gota haciendo lo que les apasiona.  Y no solo se trabaja en esta plaza…hay tiempo para un tinto, una arepa, el caldo de costilla y hasta para una que otra copa de aguardiente que calme el frío mañanero.  En un abrir y cerrar de ojos van desapareciendo kilos y  kilos de alimentos y van desfilando cualquier cantidad de camiones rebosados de carga.  No faltan tampoco los famosísimos Renault antiguos que bien saben aprovechar los colombianos.  Como pude descubrir…es un sitio mágico.

Tal y como está organizado Centro Abastos, no lo recomendaría como un sitio turístico necesariamente.  No tiene la infraestructura necesaria para albergar turistas cómodamente y siendo justos, ese no es el objetivo actual de este lugar.   De todas formas, es un lugar abierto al público en general y aunque no sea un punto de interés turístico, recomiendo está experiencia a todos los que de alguna u otra forma están interesados en el campo, en la agricultura, en consumir productos locales y en apoyar el campo Colombiano.  Y por que no?…podemos pensar a futuro y que lugares como este y como las plaza de mercado que abundan en Colombia, se conviertan en sitios que los turistas quieran dejar de visitar.

Les comparto algunas fotos de esta experiencia y de la gente de la cual tenemos que estar muy orgullosos en Colombia.

Para mas información acerca de Centroabastos, favor visitar:

http://www.centroabastos.com/web/

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Although sometimes is hard to wake up before the sun rises, I’ve always felt that starting the day early is very satisfying.  Watching as people fill the streets, businesses open up and daily life unfolds, are some of my favorite pleasures. The recent visit to the Distribution Centre of Bucaramanga (Colombia), Centroabastos, was an unforgettable experience. It was very gratifying to see how farmers, traders, “coteros”, and countless entrepreneurs faithfully gather in this food market so that ‘santandereanos’ can enjoy the delicious and fresh produce  typical of the region.

The daily routine starts early at Centroabastos. Doors open at 3am as the fruits and vegetables do not wait.  Neither does the frenzy of people …unloading crates on one side, haggling on the other, adding the numbers, closing deals, having fun with each other, and sweating till the last drop doing what they love.   And is not all work and no fun in this place… there’s time for a tinto (sweeten black coffee), an arepa, rib stew and even an occasional glass of “aguardiente” to calm the morning chill. In a blink of an eye, pound after pound of produce  disappear and the parade of overloaded trucks begins.  You can I also catch some of the antique Renault cars famously used by many farmers in Colombia.  As I found out…this is a magical place.

As Centroabastos is organized, I don’t necessarily recommend it as a tourist attraction. It does not have the appropriate infrastructure to comfortably accommodate tourists and to be fair, that is not the purpose of this place.  Nevertheless, it is open to the general public and although it is not a common point of interest, I recommend the experience to all those who in some way or another are interested in farming, in agriculture, in consuming  locally and supporting the Colombian countryside.  And why not? … We can think forward and imagine markets like this becoming places that tourists won’t want to miss.

Here are some photos of this experience and of the people of which we should be proud of in Colombia.

For more information on Centroabastos please visit:

http://www.centroabastos.com/web/