I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I am a sucker for festivals. As soon as I saw the hand-drawn posters for the Kawagoe Coffee Festival, I knew I would want to check it out, even though I’m not much of a coffee fan. I do enjoy the smell of roasting coffee, so with my coffee-loving wife (see her take on the festival here!), we ventured forth to check out the 2017 edition of the coffee festival.
The festival itself was set into the grounds of Renkeiji Temple on the main road of the Coedo area of Kawagoe. My main goal was to try to see if I could find a coffee I could drink that didn’t taste so darn bitter. At the front, you pay 1000 yen (about $8.80 at time of posting) for a small batch of four stickers. Each sticker is redeemable for a small sampling of select coffees from each shop and roaster. They also had full cups for sale anywhere from 500-1000 yen ($4.41-$8.80) each, as well as whole coffee beans for about 800 ($7.05) yen for 100 grams, depending on the type of bean. Here’s a quick run-down of the four coffees we tried with our tasting stickers:
Note: All coffee was served black. No cream or sugar to be seen, but then again, we didn’t look too hard!
And Coffee Roasters (Yamamoto): Kenya Coffee
This roaster was by far the most popular, with a queue snaking all across the festival grounds. The coffee itself smelled of vegetables: some hints of tomato were what I was picking up. Maybe from the acidity? Either way, it had this odd vegetable taste to the bean, which to me, was somewhat off-putting. Again, I’m not a coffee person, so this may have been the best one at the festival but my unsophisticated palette prevented me from fully appreciating it.
Craftsman Coffee Roasters (Yamaguchi): Costa Rican Coffee
Hot off the heels of my journey to Yamaguchi, I found myself once more confronted with some southern Honshu flavor. This one was my favorite of the bunch: Smooth with all of the coffee flavor on the front. It was mild, smooth, and very drinkable. Had I been able to add some cream or sugar, I could easily see myself enjoying this blend immensely! My clear #1!
Toshino Coffee (Kawagoe): Indonesian Coffee
One of the hometown roasters, we went with the Indonesian beans. This one didn’t seem to have much going on for me. It tasted like coffee, which is a good selling point, I must say. The bitterness just kind of overwhelmed my tastebuds, prompting a frown and reinforcing my distaste for coffee. I’m sure it’s fine if you’re used to the taste, though!
Glitch Coffee & Roasters (Tokyo): Kenyan Coffee
Lastly, we decided to try one of the many Tokyo roasters on premise. This one had an OK scent to it, but again, it was just too bitter for me from start to finish. The coffee maker informed us that there were hints of tomato and blackcurrant, but I couldn’t pick any of that up over the bitterness. The lingering taste in my mouth did not endear me to this brew, unfortunately.
With that, I discovered I’m not much of a coffee aficionado, but I’m glad I gave it a go. Again, these are the opinions of someone who does not drink coffee. It’s always nice to try new and different things. The people there were so friendly (as were the seemingly endless parade of dogs attending!) and we even saw one of our building managers there! Overall, it’s a hip, cozy little festival that you could spend most of your cold morning/afternoon at enjoying hot roasts and mellow coffeehouse beats.