To get a sense of how much the Japanese coffee scene has evolved over the past decade, pay a visit to Weekenders Coffee. This specialty coffee shop in northeast Kyoto — which marks its 10th anniversary next month — ranks among the city's most essential destinations for discerning caffeine junkies. Yet customers who haven't been there since the early days may not recognize the place.

Over the past five years, Weekenders has transformed from a conventional sit-down cafe into a dedicated roastery. In 2011, owner Masahiro Kaneko removed all the window seats to make room for a Probat roaster, drawing a few grumbles from customers who liked to sit and watch the Eizan Electric Railway rumble past outside. Last year, he dispensed with tables altogether: If you want to drink at Weekenders, it's now standing room only.

This radical makeover partly came out of necessity. Kaneko now supplies beans to a variety of local coffee shops, as well as an in-store Weekenders cafe at Kamome Books in Tokyo, and he needed more space for his roasting operation. But the change was about atmosphere, too.