A Hidden Gem on Momiji Street

A hidden gem – that’s the best way to describe Matsumoto Coffee. I’ve been having trouble coming up with words to do the humble artisan coffee shop justice, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to really, but I’ll do my best for the sake of this post.

I tried looking up Matsumoto Coffee’s address on Google Maps so I could link it here, but it turns out that you can’t find Matsumoto Coffee on Google Maps, or anywhere online actually. It’s that hidden.

As long as you know how to find Momiji Street though, you’ll be able to find Matsumoto’s. (Momiji Street is a colorful little alley to the right of Minoh Station – you can’t miss it.)

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“Minoh-ers call this Momiji Street.”

A few minutes walk down Momiji Street and Matsumoto Coffee will be on your left.

From the outside, Matsumoto Coffee’s simple, unadorned exterior doesn’t seem like anything worth pausing for.

There are so many other little cafes and coffee shops in Japan – especially Minoh – I wouldn’t have bothered to stop by Matsumoto’s if it weren’t for my friend’s recommendation.

When I got to the front entrance, I was a little disappointed. My friend had raved about this shop for days. I’d expected to be greeted by a balcony or a garden or vines lining the windows – at least a little something more than a chalkboard sign that says “we offer iced coffee for take out.”

But then, I stepped inside – and I think I might have fallen in love.

It’s not just the way it looks, you can feel that the place special. You feel it in the barista’s smile, in the way the yellow light shines on the bar, in the smell of roasted beans and the taste of freshly brewed coffee on the tip of your tongue. There’s something soft and serene in the air that, like I said, I can’t quite put into words.

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I sat down at the table closest to the door and the barista came up to me immediately. She brought over a box for me to put my backpack in and then served me a cup of iced water. Throughout my visit, she was always quick to serve me, always attentive to my needs even without me having to ask. She took special care to meet the other customer’s requests too, though I only saw two other customers while I was there. (Yes, the two in the picture above.)

After several minutes of attempting to decipher the menu, I ordered a latte. It was the richest, earthiest latte I’ve ever had – each sip was very strong, sharp and full of flavor. The latte came with a tiny cup of simple syrup and a bit of whole milk too, so I could adjust the taste of the coffee to my liking.

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My friend had a cup of one of their special blends. The shop has lots of different blends to choose from, as well as different types of coffee drinks – even an espresso affogato, which is apparently their specialty. The menu had quite a long list of options, which I didn’t take the time to go through in detail, but I do plan to eventually.

Oh, and I did I mention the roaster? That’s the best part.

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Yup, that’s right. There’s a huge roaster at the back that takes up about half the shop. And that’s where you’ll find Matsumoto-san. Yes, the Matsumoto of Matsumoto Coffee!

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You’ll find him siting on a stool in front of the machine, lit cigarette in hand, waiting for the beans to finish roasting.

Sometimes he’ll stand up, walk around, even talk to people. I had the pleasure of saying hello. Next time I visit, I want to start a conversation, even a simple one.

Who knows, maybe if I go often enough, I might even work up the nerve to beg Matsumoto-san to take me on as his apprentice.

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