Happy 2018! Hope you've had a wonderful new year. Many apologies for the disappearance for the later half of the year - my iPhone died, and I lost all my photos from the past two years. It was an extraordinarily painful experience, and I would not wish it upon anybody. Always remember to back up your phone, and buy more iCloud storage space if you have to. It's worth it!
Anyway, I have a few new coffee diaries lined up and I can't wait to share them!
To round off 2017, my family went on a holiday to Osaka and Kyoto! We last visited those cities 12 years ago, and all I remember of Osaka was the aquarium and Universal Studios Japan. I barely remember Kyoto as we took a day trip then, and it was raining, so we didn't get to see very much. Unfortunately, ten-year-old me lacked an adventurous appetite as well - I didn't even eat sashimi, and I'm sure my parents knew that good beef was wasted on young children - so I don't even remember what I ate too!
This trip felt like I was visiting a place for the first time, yet there was a sense of familiarity, comfort and growth. Most noticeably, the palates of my sisters and I have developed considerably, and we ate so much - okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and soft serve ice cream, amongst other things. Japan is truly the land of good food and the best part is, you don't need a sky-high budget to enjoy the food. We also went on a few coffee adventures this trip! Although Osaka and Kyoto's cafe scene isn't as developed as Tokyo's, there are some really lovely spots in these cities, and I am so glad to be sharing them here!
Osaka feels like a mix of Tokyo and Kyoto - you get the city vibes, but there is also a sense of culture and tradition.
1. Mill Pour
Mill Pour is located in Shinsaibaishi, the shopping district of Osaka. It's a tiny shop with just a few boxes for seats outside, and an espresso bar on the inside. It is quaint and cosy. It is primarily a takeaway joint, although you can sit outside and people-watch - it's a lovely experience, especially in winter with a warm cup of coffee in hand.
I ordered a latte, which tasted of plums and grapes, with a lingering chocolate aftertaste. It reminded me of Commonfolk's coffee in Melbourne, one of my favourite coffees in the world. The texture was smooth, rounded and creamy.
Mill Pour is an escape from its fast-paced environment, with a number of office workers scuttling about and tourists making their way from one shop to another. Come here for a pick-me-up between your shopping trips; or just for a breather.
2. Lilo Coffee Roasters
Lilo is another tiny cafe in Shinsaibaishi. It's closer to the hipster stuff, the tiny streets and the Osaka version of Harajuku (Amerika-Mura). Lilo Coffee Roasters is a comforting hideout from the cold winter, and the high tables and chairs remind me of the warmth of a bar. It's situated next to a hair salon, Lilo in Veve - apparently, the cafe is a spin-off from the hair salon, borne out of their love for coffee.
I had a flat white. Each coffee comes with a card with the tasting notes of your coffee, and the way they've presented the information is so cool! There are days when I just feel like drinking my coffee without thinking much, and such a card is perfect for letting you know what you're tasting without you having to think hard and figure it out on your own. That said, I found the coffee to be a little more on the acidic side, and somewhat reminiscent of dark chocolate. I don't think my palate is very refined, though.
My sister had a matcha latte, and just look at that latte art! It's adorable. My sister asked for the matcha latte with less milk, which resulted in a well-balanced drink - neither too bitter nor too sweet.
3. 9 Borden Coffee
This cafe is truly a gem. We were leaving the Osaka aquarium and in need of a good coffee. I was scrolling through my coffee list and google maps, trying to find a cafe to visit when my sister pointed 9 Borden Coffee out to me. It hadn't come up on any of my google searches for "good coffee in Osaka", but I was enticed by its warm, hipster-looking exterior, and decided to give it a shot.
It turned out to be a good shot indeed - it's a lovely, homey cafe, and the coffee is excellent! I had a rather strong cappuccino which tasted faintly of citrus. Swirl the coffee around in your mouth for a bit, and you'll find that it is very sweet and creamy. A wonderful respite from the cold. I tried a sip of the creme brûlée latte from my sister, which tasted like Starbucks' toffee nut latte! A wintery, Christmassy drink indeed, perfect for the Christmas season!
The cafe has many charging points and free wifi, and it would be a great place to get some work done. I loved the abundance of natural light, and the many plants inside the cafe. The cafe is owned by a Canadian-Japanese couple, which explains why there is a lovely picture of Toronto on the wall! My dad was so excited, because he used to study in Canada. On another note, I do hope I make it to Canada someday. I hear they have quite a coffee culture.
I do hope some "best coffee in Osaka" lists start featuring this cafe! It deserves more exposure. If you make a trip to the Osaka aquarium (and I highly recommend that you do - they even have a whale shark in their aquarium!), do stop by 9 Borden Coffee.
4. Brooklyn Roasting Company (Namba)
There are two Brooklyn Coffee Roasters in Osaka - one in Namba, and one in Kitahama. We visited the outlet in Namba, which is located under a highway, which explains the industrial, gritty vibe going on, contrasted by the cafe's bright and colourful logo. There are a few vendors in the space: there is Brooklyn Coffee Roasters, a pizza joint, and a bar.
I got an iced latte. Some days, you need to fight the cold with cold. I guess you could apply the same logic as to why you should drink hot drinks on a hot day - apparently, hot drinks make you sweat more, cooling you down as a result. So, drinking a cold drink makes you sweat less, thus retaining more heat in your body?
I really enjoyed this iced latte! I found it to be a little acidic on its own, but once you mix it with the milk, it becomes incredibly smooth, and the coffee took on a very nutty, caramel-ly flavour. There was also a "lingering almond-y aftertaste" (what I wrote down while drinking it). Absolutely delicious, and I didn't want it to end. The balmy weather certainly helped - the temperature was cold, with a hint of warmth from the sun, so I moved outside to take pictures and drink my coffee for a bit. It was a beautiful morning indeed.
On a side note, we got a slice of pizza to share from the pizza shop! It was a delicious slice of pepperoni - the base was thin, and the crust being especially crisp. This is important, as soggy crusts are disappointing, and no one deserves a soggy crust. Unless, of course, it is a cheese-stuffed crust.
5. Soholm Cafe
This was a surprise find, and a pleasant surprise it was. I didn't think the area that we stayed in had lots of good coffee, but this is a hidden gem. Cafes in department stores are usually a hit-and-miss - they're either decent or terrible. We were doing a bit of shopping on our last morning in Osaka, and didn't have time to venture out as a result. We stumbled upon this place when we were visiting Loft, and thought we'd give it a shot (pun intended). It's so pretty!
I got a cappuccino. It was balanced and creamy, and so buttery! My sister said that her cappuccino reminded her of fried rice, in that it was like a meal. I'm going to take that as another way of saying that it was wholesome? Because it was. Definitely a great pick-me-up, I think they have various outlets located in malls around Osaka.
After Osaka, we headed to Kyoto. Coffee diary coming soon. Stay tuned!