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Traditional coffee joint Inoda also makes a good breakfast

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Special To The Japan Times

Inoda is one of Kyoto’s long-established coffee chains, and has several outposts dotted around the city, but the cafe and shop on Sanjo Street is a treat, with its space to seat ratio in the region of 10 to 1.

It’s all quite old-world and formal, judging by the uniforms of the serving staff. But it’s also friendly, the no-smoking area looks out onto Sanjo — one of the city’s more genteel streets. However, if you can handle the smoke, head toward the back counter.

The reason I suggest the back is both for the seating arrangement, with its big, wide stools rooted to the floor, circling an oval counter inside of which the coffee staff (“barista” doesn’t seem to be the right word here), who wear crisp white jackets and matching hats, attend to great vats of boiling water and enamel jugs with the diligence and seriousness of a science experiment. It’s a window onto a different time.

In terms of the taste, though, the Colombian brew has a slightly sweet note running through it; the German blend is portly. The breakfast set, which is served until 11 a.m., is filling and includes coffee. On a recent visit I had a crustless toasted ham-sandwich with cured ham. For sweets lovers, there is also a great assortment of cakes.