If you refer to Edo Fukagawa Coffee Hompo as a kissaten (a tearoom/café), Mr. Shuji Yamaoka, it’s master, will correct you immediately. This is a coffee-ya, a shop featuring a tasting room, run by a professional coffee roaster. Don’t come in here asking about free-Wi-Fi if you know what is good for you. When you order your coffee you are given a glass of water. Wait! Don’t just gulp it downーthe water is to refresh your palate and prepare it for premium coffee drinking. So swish the water around in your mouth and swallow it mindfully and be aware of it’s purpose.
Mr. Yamaoka has been in the coffee business for 50 years, and he has been roasting his own coffee beans for some 40 years. So the only things that are green here are the un-roasted coffee beans and the plants on the verandah.
Mr.Yamaoka worked for a major coffee roaster before establishing his own business in 1997. He has two classes of customers; professionals who buy beans for re-sale, and locals who buy beans for personal use, and who often stop in for a cup of his blended coffee. And beans he has, from 62 countries. When customers buy his beans they get a lecture about the proper temperature of water to use and how to best serve that particular blend.
In Japanese, the word fun’iki means “atmosphere” or “ambience.” After coffee beans, fun’iki is the next biggest draw of Edo Fukagawa Coffee Hompo. The tables and chairs are antique, and made of wood, of course. They have a seen a lot of coffee drinking in their days. There are antiques everywhere: precious plates and containers in cases in the back, Art Deco style statutes of nymphs, prints of jazzmen on the walls, and swords everywhere. Yes, swords. Mr. Yamaoka is a practitioner of the Japanese sword arts. If you ask him, he will patiently explain the similarities between Japanese budo, (the way of the warrior) swords and coffee making. The short explanation is that his budo influences his coffee making because both swords and coffee are hand-made by humans and have heart.
Mr. Yamaoka makes and serves a delicious 4-Countries Blend made from Brazilian, Columbian, Salvadorian and Honduran beans. Personally, his favorite coffee is Blue Mountain #1. In the future he hopes to introduce his coffee to more and more people. So, when you are over by Monzen-nakacho way, drop in to Edo Fukagawa Coffee Hompo for a delicious cup of coffee served in a truly unique atmosphere–just don’t call his shop a kissaten.
Story and Photos by David Parmer