Yuichiro’s Coffee Roastary

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Fresh.

That is the one word, the only word you need to know about this place.

Technically, this place, like many others, is not a cafe. It is a coffee roastery and tasting room. It’s unusual in that the owner keeps no stock of roasted coffee ready to sell: all coffee is roasted in small batches and upon order only.

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Centerpiece of unroasted coffee beans

On the day that we went, my friends made reservations for us to try several coffees and to learn how to make a good cup of coffee using the cone drip method.

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We were taught how to calculate and measure out the beans, how to grind them, and how to fit the filter into the cone so that no gap remains between the cone and filter. Then we learned how to steam the grounds and pour hot water over them to yield a delicious cup of coffee. The freshness of the ground beans resulted in a heady aroma, and the grounds looked fluffy and light in the paper cone, something which I’d never seen before.

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I usually take my coffee with a bit of cream or milk to dull the acidity, but Yuichiro’s coffee is best enjoyed plain. Pictured above right is a cup of his house blend, Tsubaki. Mild and delicious.

Along with the coffee workshop, my friends ordered a small lunch for us. We were served salad with slices of French bread toast (to be dipped in olive oil), and a wonderful dish of Chicken Cacciatore.

DSC_1000  Fresh green salad with French bread toasts

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Chicken Cacciatore: mild flavors of virgin olive oil and red wine

Our meal wrapped up with a sampling of Geisha coffee from Panama. It was served in tall champagne flutes, for a touch of elegance. At 2,800 Yen per cup, and served with handmade fudge and freshly roasted almonds and cashews, it was quite a treat and the perfect end to a meal. It had a rich, fruity taste that paired well with the chocolate and nuts.

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We not only had a great time, but also learned a lot about something we drink everyday but actually don’t know much about. This is a really elegant little place hidden in the backstreets of Tamano. The building is the family’s antique home that has been renovated in a modern, comfortable space, and the owner is friendly, personable, and really knows his stuff. He loves what he does and it shows. I will definitely be going back to learn more.

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Services include sales (including special gift boxes), tastings, and workshops. Everything is by reservation only. Workshops are taught in Japanese.

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Coffees available for roasting include selections from Indonesia, Panama, the U.S.A., Jamaica, Ethiopia, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

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Roast almonds & cashews

+ What I liked about this place: Emphasis on superior quality. Excellent product and friendly, excellent service. The beautiful interior is a mix of contemporary with antique accessories, East and West.

– What I didn’t like about this place: Nothing. A bit pricey but absolutely worth it!

Homepage: http://yuichiroscoffee.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YUiCHiROSCOFFEEROASTARY

Address: 〒706-0011  岡山県玉野市宇野4丁目13-11 /  706-0011 Okayama Prefecture, Tamano-shi, Uno 4 Chome 13-11

Tel:  090-5267-2136     Fax: 0863-31-5789

Email: yuichiroscofee@icloud.com

Hours: 12:00 ~ evening. (no set holidays).  Tastings 3x/day: 13:00~, 15:00~, 18:00~ (on days when no workshops are held); please call or email for reservations.

Map: 

 Date visited: February 19, 2015

Cafe di Espresso

Located *inside* the  combined book store and CD / DVD / comic rental shop TSUTAYA in Tamano-shi, this cafe appears to be a Starbucks-wannabe.  They have a similar style of decor, and similar menu offerings.  Still, since we’re unlikely to get a Starbucks in Tamano-shi anytime soon, Cafe di Espresso isn’t a bad runner-up.

The store can be accessed from inside the TSUTAYA shop or from the street.  Here’s what the entrance from the TSUTAYA side looks like:

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Since the cafe is connected to the shop, I understand that TSUTAYA has a real need to protect their merchandise from shoplifting, but the magnetic gates are really ugly and detract from the atmosphere.

You can see what the store looks like from the street side on the website (see link below).  It’s also not very attractive, but again I understand that they’re limited by the TSUTAYA building.

Once you’re past the ugly magnetic gates, the interior is actually nice.  Here are some shots of the counter and the main room:

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See what I mean about it being Starbuck-y?   Still, Cafe di Espresso has more open floor space than Starbucks does (at least the ones in Japan–they are so overstuffed with cushy chairs that it’s difficult to nagivate the room), and I like that they are attached to a book store.  The smoking section is completely walled off from the non-smoking section, which is also a big plus.  Cafe di Espresso also provides a nice selection of current magazines (in Japanese, of course), in case you didn’t buy anything at TSUTAYA.

Cafe di Espresso is a subsidary of the Kohikan chain of cafes.

Cafe di Espresso must do pretty decent business; everytime I pass by, there are always a good number of people inside, and the snack and dessert case is always nearly empty.  Unlike Starbucks, Cafe di Espresso usually only has 1 or 2 people on staff, so the person taking your order is the person who also makes your drink.   It’s not a chain-production kind of place, even though it does obviously fall into the “fast food” category.

They are currently running a Hawaiian Cafe Fair, which runs through September 3rd, 2013.

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I ordered the Coconut Coffee Frosty, and my sons each got a Strawberry Frosty (not on the Hawaiian menu, obviously, but also a seasonal drink).

DSC_1678The Coconut Coffee Frosty was a good treat, but there wasn’t much coconut about it other than the toasted bits on top of all that darn whipped cream.  It would have been nice if it had included (and maybe it did but I couldn’t tell) some coconut-flavored syrup.  The boys’ Strawberry Frosties were REALLY good–I highly recommend these if you can get one before they stop serving them.

+ What I like about this cafe:  Service was friendly but not over-the-top, large drink selection, ok to bring your kids to this cafe, open feel of the interior, Wi-Fi available.

– What I didn’t like about this cafe:  Chain store, but hey, I knew that before I went in.

Address:  〒706-0011 岡山県玉野市宇野1-11-1 TSUTAYA玉野店内 1F Okayama-ken, Tamano-shi, Uno 1-11-1, Tsutaya Tamano 1F

Tel:  0863-33-6266

Hours:  Everyday 9:00am to 11:00pm; open year-round

Website:  http://www.ufs.co.jp/shop-search/shop_id/294

Map:

Date visited:  July 19, 2013

Nene Goose Cafe…revisited

My friend and her sister wanted to meet for lunch, so we agreed to meet at Nene Goose Cafe again because it’s central to my friend’s house and to mine.  Today I decided to try something different to what I ordered last time.  I got the Korean Bibinbap-style casserole dish; my friend got the curried ground beef and vegetable casserole, and her sister got a seafood pasta casserole.

The casserole lunch sets were 1,100 Yen for the main dish, a side salad, and a drink.  Again, I opted for an iced tea since the tea I ordered on my last visit was really good.

Verdict: It was pretty darn good, and very filling.  The casserole had a rice base, and included cooked vegetables, sliced beef, a Korean-style sauce, a poached egg, topped with white sauce and cheese, and garnished with Japanese mizuna.  The salad was good, but the dressing didn’t have that “Wow!” factor that it did the first time we ate at Nene Goose; it definately needed more sesame oil and chili oil.  The tea also was so-so, and lacked the rich flavor that it did on the first visit.

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For dessert my friend and I got the roll cake, which came with a side of vanilla ice cream.  The dessert was an extra 200 Yen with the lunch set.

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The cake was very fresh: the sponge was soft and dense, the whipped cream and custard was fresh, and the fresh fruit (ruby grapefruit and orange) was really nice.  But it was really bland.  This cake looks very pretty but it needs a bit more sugar to bring out the flavors of the creams and the fruit.

Still, I really like the interior of this cafe, especially the flooring.  Here is a photo of the entrance area and the dessert case:

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As with the service on our first visit, the servers were really friendly and outgoing.

I guess it just goes to show that something that seems great maybe is just so-so, depending on the day that you visit.

Date revisited:  July 18, 2013

***For shop information, map, etc., please see the original post on this cafe (in June 2013 of the archives).

Nene Goose Cafe

Nene Goose Cafe has been around for a while, and even though it’s fairly nearby and has a good reputation, I’d only been once before.  My friend and I decided to go a few weeks ago, just to try something new(ish).

Nene Goose is situated across the road from Kojima lake, which is a repository of water made of water that comes out of the water recycling plant in the Hachihama area of Tamano-shi.

Nene Goose only has a few types of food on their lunch menu, namely a couple of kinds of doria (a hot casserole-type dish), and 2 kinds of sandwiches.  Apparently the menu NEVER changes.  Since it was a hot day, we both opted for the teriyaki chicken sandwich lunch set.  The sandwich came with a chilled pumpkin soup, a salad, and a drink.

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The bread was kind of like a focaccia but softer (because it hadn’t actually been hot-pressed in a sandwich grill).  The teriyaki chicken itself was good; the sandwich also included fresh lettuce, shimeji mushrooms, and a mayo-wasabi dressing that was really nice.  The soup was also really good, and was well chilled.  The salad greens were pretty normal as far as salads in Japan go, but the dressing was out-of-this-world delicious!  It tasted like an oil-vinegar that had been made with sesame oil instead of olive oil, but it also had a bit of spice too, perhaps a Chinese ra-yu chili oil…?  I’d like to try to imitate this dressing at home; we’ll see how that venture works out.  My friend opted for an iced coffee with her meal; I chose an ice tea, which ended up being an iced Early Grey–yum!  Really refreshing and went well with the lunch.

For desserts, we could choose a cheap add-on dessert (which looked like a yogurt parfait), or pay  full price for something from the dessert case.  We opted for the desserts in the dessert case.  My friend chose the pear tiramisu:

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She said it was ok, but that it didn’t actually have any coffee flavoring in it at all.   Hmmm.

I opted for an orange mousse tart:

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Even though my friend warned me that the desserts at Nene Goose were “really bland”, I didn’t find that to be the case.  The mousse tart tasted of fresh oranges in a creme mousse base, with just the right amount of sweetness.  The crust was a little bland, but that didn’t really detract from the dessert as a whole.

The only really bad thing about the meal was the coffee.  Even by my really lax standards, this was not a very good cup of coffee.

The lunch plates were 800 Yen, plus 400 Yen for dessert and 200 Yen for an extra coffee.  Reasonably priced for such a tasty lunch.

I neglected to take photos of the interior, but I like the way the cafe is decorated–simple, contemporary with lots of wood (floors, tables) and aluminum & chrome.  Here’s someone else’s photo of the interior area:

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The dessert case. (photo by anju)

Nene Goose interior by Natsugou

Nice wood tables and contemporary chairs. (photo by natsugou)

There’s never anyone out on the deck, even on nice days.  I’m guessing that the reason might be due to either the smell or the knats that come off of Kojima lake.  Here’s what the deck looks like:

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(photo by konyharu)

+ What I liked about this cafe:  Excellent service, good food, nice atmosphere, nice interior style.

– What I didn’t like about this cafe:  The coffee.  Otherwise not much, but if I were pressed to chose one point, it would be the never-changing menu.  It would be nice to have seasonal item or two, or at least change the menu once a year or so.

Parking available.

Hours: 9:00~19:00 (open until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays); closed on Wednesdays.

Date visited: June 11, 2013

Address: Tamano-shi, Hachihama-cho, Miishi 1607-8 (玉野市八浜町見石1607-8)

* P.S.  For another and different review of this cafe, check out Luc Gougeon’s food blog: http://foodietopography.net/nene-goose-cafe/

Go Blithely

Go Blithely is a popular cafe in the Tamano area;  it is technically a dog cafe in that the owner has her own dog (a huge Burmese mountain dog named “Heidi”) there, and allows customers to bring their dogs into the cafe as well.

Located on the coast in the Gokan area, the cafe offers a nice view from the garden.  The garden is small but tastefully laid out, with the path going around the cafe so that customers and their dogs can walk around.

The lunch menu consisted of 3 choices; my friend chose the grilled salmon lunch, and I chose the fried chicken plate.  Before the main plate arrived, we were served an appetizer plate, consisting of (left to right) simmered pumpkin, Japanese pickled cucumber, and fried lotus root.

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The appetizers were just one bite each.

We were also served a soup just before the main plate.  The soup was a clear broth with cabbage and mizuna in it.  A pretty basic soup that any housewife can make in her sleep.

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The main dish consisted of fried chicken served with Thai sweet chili sauce, a noodle (somen?) salad with mayonnaise and black pepper, a cabbage and carrot salad, a lettuce/cucumber/tomato salad, and a side of rice.  Everything on the main plate was actually very tasty.

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The dessert that came with the lunch was a strange concoction of yogurt with Japanese mochi in it, along with some really annoying chucks of ice; there was also some mango mousse-like stuff in the cup.  This was topped by fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and (wait for it!) a fried shrimp chip.

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Hmmm.  It wasn’t awful, but it WAS hard to eat–all these different and strange things shoved down into a narrow little cup.  My friend is allergic to mango, and since we didn’t get a choice of desserts, I got to eat her dessert as well.  Lucky me.

+  What I liked about this cafe:  The service was nice; I like the fact that customers can bring their dogs; I like the owner’s dog (great personality!), the food was presented well and tasted good; the salads were really fresh; the location is great; the garden is cute and well-maintained.

–  What  I didn’t like about this cafe: Strange combinations–is the menu Western or Japanese?  The appetizers were Japanese, but the main dishes were Western.  The interior is a bit cluttered looking (the owner sells small interior items as well, but they are poorly displayed and out of season.)

Lunch was 1,000 Yen and included the appetizers, main plate, soup, rice, dessert, and a drink (coffee, tea, or juice).  I found this to be a reasonable price for the meal.

Address: 〒706-0315 Tamano-shi Gokan1-141 (玉野市後閑1-141)

Hours: Lunch 11:00~14:00 / Teatime 14:00~  Closed on Mondays

Parking available

(Date visited: June 4, 2013) ➡ If I’d known I’d be starting a cafe review blog when I visited, I would have taken photos of the garden and the main seating area.  Perhaps next time….