% ARABICA is the most democratic coffee bean denounce in Kyoto, which is the affection of Japan ’ south third base wave coffee scenery. The iconic % coffee cups are now omnipresent in Arashiyama and Higashiyama, where % ΔRΔBICΔ was founded–and is immediately incredibly busy and beloved. This post reviews % ARABICA, shares photos from the cafe, and discusses worth your time, energy, and how to beat the lines. ( Updated July 8, 2021. )
The trials and tribulations of the last year have not slowed % ΔRΔBICΔ down one bite. Looking through the nascent chain ’ s Instagram foliate shows a whirlwind of activity, from new memory openings to temporary-yet-beautiful kiosks to concept art for future locations in Japan, the United States, and beyond .
As of Summer 2021, % ARABICA operates 91 stores in 17 unlike countries, from China to Qatar. The latest state to receive a newfangled % ARABICA outpost is the United States, with the Kyoto range open in Brooklyn last month. Although commonplace in Japan, it ’ mho besides “ celebrated ” that % ARABICA is New York ’ s first/only coffee patronize outfitted with high-end Toto toilets, featuring an adjustable water-spraying bidet and heated seats. so there ’ randomness that.

We ’ vitamin d be derelict not to begin with % ARABICA ’ s lineage floor. Founder Kenneth Shoji spent his college years hanging out and studying in a Venice Beach, California Starbucks and was inspired by the placement. Upon graduating and reflecting upon what he wanted in life, the big things were a dim-witted and down-to-earth life and an perplex cup of coffee bean every sidereal day. And so % ARABICA was born .
When it first opened in Kyoto a few years ago, % ARABICA was not a tourist finish unto itself as is the case today. With each of our visits the last few years, it seems the Arashiyama and Higashiyama storefronts have gotten busier and busier. now, you ’ ll be distressed to walk through either district and not see countless tourists taking selfies with those iconic % cups .

none of this success was accidental, or the consequence of an attention-getting design for the cups. Shoji was dedicated to creating the best chocolate possible, so he borrowed money and bought a coffee bean grow in Hawaii. He besides started trading greens beans from around the world and became the sole-exporter of a japanese roast machine along with the distributor of one of the best espresso machines .
Shoji then spent a class persuading Junichi Yamaguchi, a worldly concern ace of caffe latte art, to become head barista at % ARABICA. There are several exploiter reviews on Google and TripAdvisor of people meeting Yamaguchi. To my cognition, he still is head barista at % ARABICA ’ s flagship Kyoto, Japan cafe in Higashiyama. Shoji himself remains the brand ’ s creative director .
% ARABICA ’ s attention-getting design extends beyond the cups. Each location is a masterclass in japanese minimalism. The shops are inspired by japanese aesthetic principles, with uninfected and uncluttered design, crispen white spaces, and the signature glowing % ΔRΔBICΔ neon sign. The slick shops are, for lack of a better term, cool .

Because % ARABICA chocolate shops themselves are so cool, the first thing you ’ re about certain to encounter is a line. While the shops are open ( in summation to the two mentioned here, there ’ randomness besides a third localization in the Fujii Daimaru shopping plaza near Nishiki Market in Downtown Kyoto–this one is less busy and less touristed ), there ’ s about surely going to be a crowd .
In fact, I ’ ve never not seen a pipeline during operational hours at the Higashiyama localization. The line begins to form shortly before open, and stays until closing. In fact, given that the nearby Kiyomizudera Temple closes before the coffee shop, there ’ south much an inflow of visitors leaving the temple who arrive just before the chocolate patronize ’ s 6 post meridiem close. so don ’ triiodothyronine plan to go later to avoid the crowds–that doesn ’ triiodothyronine work .

The flagship storehouse is located on Yasaka Street, the road that travels between Yasaka Pagoda, the symbol of Higashiyama, and Kiyomizudera Temple, one of the city ’ s most popular points of interest. It ’ south easy to find via Google Maps, but there ’ s about a 95 % opportunity you ’ ll naturally walk past this chocolate denounce when you head to Kiyomizudera .
If this % ARABICA location is a must-do for you, arriving before 9:30 ante meridiem is substantive. even then, you can expect to encounter a line ranging from around 5 to 15 minutes. subsequently in the day, it will be well worse ( depending upon the season ). early in the sidereal day, most people are in ‘ grab and go ’ mode, which besides provides a better opportunity to peruse the interior .

The Arashiyama % ARABICA coffee denounce is slightly more lay back. slightly. It similarly has long lines throughout the day, but it ’ s not rare to see it without a wrinkle ( or much of a line ) before 10 ante meridiem late in the sidereal day it gets busy and stays that way, but it ’ mho rarely as hanker of a wait as the Higashiyama memory .
The location in Arashiyama is a bite removed from the normal tourist corridor. With that said, I ’ five hundred argue that this is an even better localization, situated near the historical Togetsukyo Bridge, a brusque walk from Tenryuji Temple, overlooking Oi River and the Arashiyama mountains–home to the beloved Kyoto Iwatayama Monkey Park, which we highly recommend. % ARABICA benefits greatly from being just around the recess from the “ independent drag ” of Arashiyama, though .

In addition to the three Kyoto locations, we ’ ve besides been to % ARABICA in Paris, France .
due to the achiever of the original locations in Japan, % ARABICA has aggressive expansion plans ( I ’ m hesitant to put a number on how many shops are presently operating, because more seem to be added by the month ), which include more outposts in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, India, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, and no less than a twelve other countries .

The menu at % ARABICA is simple adequate to facilitate easy regulate, but hearty enough to let you know they are “ for veridical ” in terms of third wave coffee bean shops. There are a assortment of espresso beverages, each with the choice of hot or ice and unmarried beginning or a blend.

The most noteworthy thing about the inner of the stores is the respect for the march and how this is on full display. Examples of different roasts are on display, beans are stored in a temperature-controlled cases with the roasting being done in-house, and the barista is visible from the counter when they make your toast. % ARABICA is amply guileless from start to finish .

In terms of blueprint, the cafe embraces a common sense of modernity blend with japanese chasteness. You ’ ll find crisp blank walls and clean lines accented by expose woodwind and the aforesaid displays. unfortunately, you ’ ll besides find a dearth of seat and cramped interiors .
In our Best Coffee Shops in Kyoto, Japan post, I made a bold prediction : “ 5 years from now, % ARABICA will be the next Starbucks. ” That was credibly the caffeine buzz doing the talking, as the coffee at % ARABICA is actually good, and the cafe is simultaneously very serious and very trendy, serving ‘ two worlds ’ of chocolate drinkers in a better manner than Starbucks .

however, one thing I overlooked that is all-important to the achiever of Starbucks is the invite nature of its shops and the sense of community it fostered early on, which persists today. even the Higashiyama Starbucks ( an iconic outpost of that chain, located in a restore machiya townhouse ) is a cover girl put to relax and decompress while touring Kyoto .
possibly their raw shops are different, but I ’ ve yet to visit a % ARABICA that I ’ five hundred identify as “ pleasant ” or “ inviting. ” The design is great, indisputable, but you can not possibly hang out there ( unless you pay for a booth ) .

rather, it ’ s the standard atmosphere of Arashiyama and Higashiyama that you ’ rhenium enjoying while drinking % ARABICA. few people are going to want to sit inside a coffee bean shop, no matter how cool, with stun natural beauty and UNESCO World Heritage Sites within a short-change walk of the shops .
As such, it ’ sulfur credibly a clean decision on the contribution of % ARABICA to focus on chic and memorable designs quite than cozy spaces–at least for these particular shops. ( Judging by concept art and photograph, some of the other % ΔRΔBICΔ shops look both trendy and inviting. )

As for whether % ARABICA is worth your prison term, it depends. The lines do get offensively farseeing thanks to the trendiness and popularity of of % ARABICA, and the only way to beat those is going early at a meter when you might be better off aggressively touring Kyoto ’ s top temples to beat the herd there .
additionally, as we note in our above-referenced ‘ Best Coffee ’ mail, % ARABICA is not the top third base wave denounce in Kyoto. It ’ s very good, but up against some fierce rival in one of the world ’ s best chocolate cities. however, if you ’ ra serious about chocolate and want to see a future worldwide ability player before it becomes omnipresent, % ARABICA is decidedly worthwhile. If we ’ re just talking cost and smack, % ARABICA is worth it. It may not be the best chocolate in Kyoto, but it ’ south unquestionably the cool .
If you’re planning a trip to Japan that includes Kyoto, we recommend that you start by consulting our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan to plan all aspects of our vacation. You should also check out our other posts about Japan for ideas on other places to visit! 

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Your Thoughts

Have you gotten coffee at % ARABICA ? What did you think of the have ? How was your coffee–delicious or all hype ? Would you recommend % ARABICA to a first-timer visiting Japan ? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add ? Any questions about what we ’ ve covered here ? Does visiting this spot in Kyoto interest you ? Hearing about your experiences—even when you disagree with us—is both interest and helpful to early readers, so please partake your thoughts below in the comments !
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