If you’re a coffee connoisseur, a history trivia buff and love old world charm, Nishimura Kobe is the place for you. Maintaining the style of traditional Japanese kissaten, or coffeehouses modeled on European cafes, Nishimura serves elegance and style along with a rich array of carefully brewed coffees from around the world in the heart of Kobe City.
A historic cuppa
It was the Dutch and the Portuguese who first brought coffee into the country in the 1600s, and it was in 1888 that the first coffeehouse of Japan opened its doors in Tokyo. And in the consequent unfolding of the love story of coffee with this country, Nishimura Coffee Shop in Kobe plays a significant role. It was the year 1948 when in a small three-table corner shop in the Kitano neighborhood of Kobe that the owner of Nishimura decided to serve the painstakingly prepared blend of coffee straight.
It was the first time in the history of coffee in Japan, that straight black coffee was placed on the menu.
It was the first time in the history of coffee in Japan, that straight black coffee was placed on the menu. This is also the first place in Japan to serve cappuccino and coffee jelly. Interestingly, straight black coffee is still served in the same trademark Arita pottery cup that was first used to serve Nishimura black coffee.
Charming mid-century wooden furniture and courteous waiters in crisp aprons immaculately serving perfect brews all add up to create the unique experience of a Japanese kissaten. The flagship store of Nishimura, on Nakayamate Street, stands at the spot of the original shop and is the most popular of all its ten branches spread across Kobe and Osaka.
But if you want to get away from the hustle of coffee fans and tourists, head to the Kitanozaka branch. This Nishimura, first established in 1974 as a “members-only” coffee shop, opened its doors to the general public after the 1995 Hanshin Earthquake.
Carefully controlled elements
A menu boasting carefully selected coffee from Blue Mountain Jamaica, Colombia Narino Supremo to Mocha Sanani and Cuba Crystal Mountain, each aspect of production is vigilantly monitored. Locals insist, however, that it is the miya mizu water (mineral-rich underground water from the Rokko Mountain range) that Nishimura uses for its brews that ensures the taste. If you make it early morning, you can see tankers of this famed water being delivered to the shops.
There are nine Nishimura locations in Kobe and one in Osaka. Each locale is listed below in the “Getting there” section. The precision in crafting each brew, the ambience and the history all make this a must see on your next visit to the Kansai region.