Without wishing to sound too grandiose, there are some moments that restore your faith in humanity, Manu Coffee in Fukuoka restored my faith in Japanese espresso. If you look back in time at this blog (please do) you may notice that besides Bear Pond Espresso, a near-mythological shop to some, I wasn’t able to find great espresso in many other places in Japan. Part of this is because the third wave coffee scene didn’t come into full swing in Japan until about two years ago, and the other is because I had never been to Fukuoka.
Though some other shops are making a good case for it, Manu Coffee is probably one of the nicest cafes I’ver ever been to. Meaning the baristas were ridiculously nice. Within a few minutes I felt as welcome as a year-long usual and spent far longer than I expected chatting with the baristas there. One of whom also offered to bring me to their roastery, something I wouldn’t pass up.
First arriving at Manu Coffee, I wasn’t sure what to think since it’s a very unassuming shop. So much so that I actually learned that one of my former students who couldn’t really care less about coffee hangs out there a bunch with her friends. The moment came when I ordered an espresso and when bringing it to me, I was told that it was a Single Origin Yirgacheffe. After about a month of navigating around (still amazingly lovely) cafes in Korea that wanted to offer a million options to not alienate those who want to have Grandpa Pasquale’s espresso, it was so refreshing to see a cafe with the courage to drop down a SOE like it was no big deal. Like a sushi chef boldly dropping a plate of fresh sea urchin in front of you as if to say “You either eat this and love it, or fuck off back to your california rolls.”
The Ethiopia was at the same time, earthy, sweet, and fruity. It was only slightly tart and very heavily milk chocolate in taste and mouthfeel. Considering Yirgacheffe’s natural tendency to be very fruity and tart, getting such a wide variety of flavors is really commendable.
The cafe not only kept me coming back, but even made me go visit one of their other locations. That day, I tried the Ocami Blend, which is named for their roastery Ocami Roasters. The blend was a bit smokey, but faded to give way to a great sweetness. There was a bit of earthy tea flavors, as well as a bit of molasses.
Manu Coffee definitely knows what they’re doing, and are worthy of being at the forefront of Japan’s coffee scene. More importantly than that, while there I was given the names of other cafes around Japan, many of which will show up on this blog soon. I was also told about Honey Coffee which is apparently the father of the Fukuoka coffee scene, I didn’t have time to go there but there is always next time…