Summer looks to be creeping up on the city of Tokyo, with sunny days and escalating temperatures calling for t-shirts, shorts, and sunglasses. The weekend is also time for the Aoyama Farmers’ Market, a space at the United Nations University showcasing a variety of food and produce from across Japan. And on May 21 and 22, the space played stage to the 2016 Tokyo Coffee Festival, an independently run event organized by barista Yuji Otsuki, that brings together coffee shops from all over Japan—and even abroad!—to spread coffee love through the city of Tokyo.
But for more on how the event started, its core concept, and goals, be sure to check out our interview with the man Yuji Otsuki himself.
The event was a collection of coffee shops, people, drinks, and food—a blend of new experiences, fresh approaches to standard drinks, and quality coffee from all across the world. Together with the help of Instagrammer kazu_poon’s wonderful photography, here are a few highlights from the 2016 Tokyo Coffee Festival.
Not Drunk Coffee?
Nagoya’s favorite specialty roaster, Trunk Coffee, continues on its seemingly endless path of experimentation and collaboration. Not long after the release of their second Drunk Coffee—brewed with Kenya Kibiru coffee—they began offering an intriguing beverage called, “Not Drunk Coffee”, a Kenya Kangunu iced coffee… on tap?
Owner Yasuo Suzuki said it’s made in the Shiga Kogen brewing tanks, minus the beer part, resulting in a refreshing and bubbly brew that is completely non-alcoholic.
“It’s not just ‘coffee’”
This wonderful piece of chalkboard art, whipped up by the boys at Woodberry Coffee Roasters, wasn’t just a well-drawn illustration—it also held a simple message that sparked communication between customer and barista, and for many marked their first understanding of the depth to coffee.
Back with a smile! And Coffee Roasters
Despite still being in recovery from the recent Kumamoto earthquakes, And Coffee Roasters were at the festival with smiles, pour-overs, and “Stay Strong Kumamoto” stickers to help raise money for their hometown through the thing they do best.
Rec Coffee from Fukuoka
Rec Coffee came all the way from Fukuoka, and they’d brought with them a tremendous cafe au lait recipe that took an India C1 coffee, ice, and milk, making for a sweet, almost dessert-like cup of coffee.
It was perfect for the weather and was my photographer friend Kazu Poon’s coffee of the day.
Pink hair, blue hair
Not to be lost in a sea of coffee stands and brewing apparatus, Hoshikawa Cafe, who came from nearby Saitama Prefecture, decided red beards were in order. The blue hair highlights were, unfortunately, lost to the shade of their spot under cover, but they made up for it with an excellent selection of coffees from Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.
The Wasanbon Experience
Hiyori was one of a selection of stalls that offered food complementary to coffee—in this case wasanbon, the delicate sugar candies made from Japanese sugarcane plants. Hiyori sold their candy in the form of beautiful little stars and shapes, and also offered passersby a chance to experience making the candy first hand, in wooden casts of flowers and stars that are entirely hand carved.
Cafe Lulu traveled all the way from Taiwan and set up shop in a small corner of the event space, where they quickly sold out of their range of offerings. Though there’s no word on a Tokyo shop opening anytime soon, the crew were happy to be part of the Tokyo Coffee Festival experience, and their visit marks the first time the festival has ever hosted a coffee shop from overseas.
The Espresso Rum Tonic
Switch Coffee’s signature drink of the day mixed the seasonal blend espresso with tonic and a dash of rum to bring a fruity, refreshing flavor to a simple glass bottle. They’ve had this available at most of the outdoor events they participated in recently, and it’s absolutely worth a try.
Yuji Otsuki may have been a tired man from all the preparations and constant stress of the day, but he always seemed to have time to share a flash of his trademark smile.
Hengtee Lim (@Hent03) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Tokyo. Read more Hengtee Lim on Sprudge.