Rainy afternoons, used bookstores and slow brew cuppas: How Glitch Coffee became my most recommended café in Tokyo
We enter the unassuming Tokyo café on a rainy day, glad to escape the weather. Here at Glitch Coffee & Roasters is an entire world hidden away yet very much part of the neighbourhood, which its owner, 2014 Japan AeroPress Champion Kiyokazu Suzuki, has chosen. This space isn’t meant to be busy or fashionable; quite the opposite. We were first introduced to Glitch Coffee by Masahiro Aoki, a Japanese barista trainer and coffee consultant who has been grooming baristas in Malaysia since 2011 as well as judging at various Malaysia Barista Championships. When Masa-san, who now heads Artelier Coffee in both Pavilion Bukit Bintang and Pavilion Bukit Jalil, recommends a coffee shop or coffee roaster, one would be wise to listen. After all, his illustrious protégés include Rain Lee of KITA Coffee, the newly crowned Malaysia Barista Champion 2022, and Penang-born multi-hyphenate Ang Yeesiang (barista, roaster and owner of Sweet Blossom Coffee Roasters in Johor Baru). So it was Masa-san’s advice that we recalled when the weather took a turn for the worse while we were dilly-dallying in our hotel room in Kabukicho, not ready to start the day. As far as we are concerned, the storm arrives out of the blue. This is the sort of rain that goes on for hours. This, we tell ourselves, would be a good time for a nap, maybe a deeper sleep, a sort of hibernation from hard thinking or hard work. But the rain is a beautiful thing; it can be, yes.
So we drag ourselves out of our hotel in search of some coffee. This is why we find ourselves in the used bookstore haven of Jimbocho, its streets shiny with rain. The friendly and fastidious baristas at Glitch Coffee in their Jimbocho flagship shop. As they make our coffee, fastidious in their craft and care, I read a little William Blake. If only we could as Blake did, he who glimpsed a world, a universe, in a grain of sand, in a wild flower, and he who held infinity in the palm of his hand. I certainly have endured "eternity in an hour” while waiting in line at the post office. To see everything in an instance, and hold it only for as long as that. Our coffee is black, tea-like and light in body, yet deepens in flavour as we sip slowly, allowing it to cool. One cup is an Ethiopia Nigusse Gemeda, the natural process drawing out the clear notes of winey grapes and blueberries. A tea-like pour-over coffee goes well with a nutty, not-too-sweet almond croissant. Pour-over coffee always goes well with some pastries, preferably not too sweet.
These are the tiny joys in life: drawing in a sketchbook; journaling, writing in measured, unhurried sentences; and the soft chew of a bagel. Glitch Coffee has its own in-house roasting machine and specialises in lighter roasts. Glitch Coffee has its own in-house roasting machine and specialises in lighter roasts. It’s all about experimenting and sharing the results and learning. We understand the concept; after all, isn’t coming here a discovery for us too? And a very happy one at that. Conversing with one of the baristas, we learn that the Jimbocho café is their flagship shop. Leaving the charming café in rainy Jimbocho and promising to return. What’s more, now we have the privilege of paying it forward. What was once Masa-san’s recommendation to us is now my recommendation to other friends, even my Japanese friends (especially Tokyoites who have yet to explore their own city as thoroughly as we have; Ausländers, as Germans call foreigners, can be far more curious and indefatigable). Perhaps this is the story of how Glitch Coffee became my most recommended café in Tokyo. But if so, it is also the story of rainy afternoons that don't have to dampen our spirits.
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