Tucked away along the main street out side Zama Station is a coffee shop you’d expect to find in the metropolitan areas of Tokyo or Yokohama. Coffee Note is appropriately named; owner Hirosh Ohmori roasts his blends in house and each has lush, distinct notes. The flavors and aromas are brilliant; he is a certainly a master of his trade.
In my home city of Portland, Oregon coffee worship is culturally normative; from the trade practices, to the small batch roasting, to the artful way the coffee is prepared. Coffee tasting rivals wine tasting and standards are high. I was quite pleased to find that Japan really has some great cafes serving up strong, fresh brewed coffee, but my first sample at Coffee Note went beyond all expectations. Hirosh-san promotes the full coffee experience; that was apparent the first time I stepped into the aromatic space and saw the artisan coffee equipment.
Coffee Note lacks the pretentiousness sometimes associated with small specialty shops; the cafe is very comfortable and Hirosh-san congenial. There is a bohemian-vibe and regulars at the bar take the occasional break from their books to chat with each other or Hirosh-san. On my second visit to Coffee Note I was surprised when he greeted me by name.
Hirosh-san very much favors the principles of fair trade and eco-friendly practices, buying directly from farmers and caring about the industry as a whole (from farm to consumer). Starbucks and Doutour cannot rival the dedication and caring of a small outfit like Coffe Note; this is coffee with heart! For those of us that appreciate good coffee, it's promising to see that small roasters are becoming more common in Japan.
Coffee lovers really must pop into Coffee Note. Hirosh-san has roasting down to an art form; his blends are perfectly smooth without a hint of bitterness. Enjoy a cup of the daily blend, hot or iced. The olfactory experience alone will provide a burst of energy and excitement while you watch the master at work.
Ask Hirosh-san to recommend beans (starting at 490 JPY per 200g) to take home for a gift or to enjoy later. Depending on your coffee maker and preference, he will point you in the right direction. I chose the house blend with lush notes of dark chocolate and a perfectly smooth flavor.