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!