This doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's super exciting.
The first Japanese coffee chain to ever open in the U.S. has chosen Boston as the lucky city.
Ogawa Coffee, a well-known coffee roaster from Kyoto in Japan, opened its first U.S. location on Milk Street in downtown Boston. Though Ogawa did consider New York initially, it ultimately chose Boston because of its similarity to Kyoto in its size, huge student population, and rich history. In fact, the two cities are sister cities (I had no idea!).
Like with everything else, the Japanese obsess about coffee. Their attention to detail is fanatical, and the resulting coffee is really, really good. In fact, the founder of Ogawa Coffee wrote a handbook (gorgeous photographs, by the way) that teaches all the proper techniques for how to make that perfect cup of cappuccino.
Haruna Murayama, the winner of the 2010 World Latte Art Competition, has moved to Boston to help open up this location.
If you go and she's there, try the Signature Drink ($10 and up). Murayama is the only person who can make this drink. If she's not there, they won't serve it.
The drink consists of two drinks that are meant to be enjoyed together: a warm cappuccino adorned with Murayama's intricate latte art and a foamed espresso served in a martini glass. The foam gives an illusion of creaminess in the espresso, even though there is no cream.
The cold foamed espresso is sweetened and very strong. The cappuccino is creamy and warm. Each on its own is good, but together they are better. The warm, creamy cappuccino balances out the strong, sweet espresso.
If you're lucky, you might be able to get an Affogato made from Toscanini's vanilla ice cream made specifically for this dessert. Compared to the normal Tosci's vanilla ice cream, this one is denser and sweeter (to stand up to the warm, bitter espresso).
You can also try a Kalita pourover coffee. The Kalita filter is the most popular pourover tool in Japanese coffee shops. You can choose from a variety of blends. I chose the House Blend Kyoto, previously available only at the Ogawa Coffee shop in Kyoto Station. This blend is made up of specially selected beans from Guatemala, Brazil and Ethiopia.
Coffee is served in special ceramic cups imported from Japan painted with flowers to express the seasons. I absolutely loved this coffee.
The space is modern and unusual, with stadium seating facing the baristas and tall ceilings. The shop hopes to use the space as a teaching lab and hold various coffee lectures or other educational type events. They want it to be an "urban oasis" in the middle of Downtown Boston.
The coffee is really good here. I enjoyed all of the different drinks. The Signature Drink is definitely decadent and I would probably save that for a special occasion. The House Blend Kyoto made as a pourover in the Kalita is fantastic and probably my favorite. I could totally drink that every day. The affogato is fun, suitable for summertime or anytime you feel like a dessert.
Never before have I consumed so many coffee drinks in the span of about an hour. I was super wired afterwards for the entire night, but man, it was so worth it.
Disclaimer - I did not pay for the coffee drinks. All opinions are my own.