For a small city, Kyoto is big on coffee. As with every city in Japan, the current “third-wave” coffee boom has brought more choice and quality when it comes to cafes and beans. This is undeniably good news for coffee drinkers. Ogawa Coffee and Inoda Coffee, two Kyoto coffee institutions, both predate the current boom by a long while. However, where they differ, at least in style, is that while Inoda has kept an old-world Japanese kissaten coffee house look, Ogawa is decidedly modern, with (sadly) not a bow tie in sight.

Ogawa Coffee has outlets dotted around the country with the majority concentrated in the Kansai region. The franchise roasts some excellent coffee blends; their Santa Lucia from Costa Rica is strong but ever so sweet, and even their house blend is a smooth coffee. So it was disappointing to find that their Western-style breakfast is lagging. It was generous, but unimaginative. Thin strips of ham are poor substitutes for bacon and no match in terms of umami. Likewise, the potato salad was bland.

The cake shop downstairs, however, offered recompense as its teacake had hints of earl gray and green tea. Alongside the cake shop, the friendly staff will guide you through the assortment of coffee beans on offer.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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