After watching a bit about the 52nd annual Koenji Awaodori (dance) festival in Koenji on the tube yesterday we decided to take a walk over there today to see what it's all about.
After a stroll along the Zempukuji River, which runs through Wadabori Park near our home, and several blocks of back street routes, 45 minutes later found us in Koenji in Tokyo's Suginami Ward.
As we were a few hours early the Awaodori hadn't started yet so we wandered along the shotengai (shopping street) near the station to see what we could see. Although we were too early for the main dance we were able to see a couple of groups of dancers stepping their way along to the beat of the flutes and drums that make up the music of a typical Awaodori festival.
After a couple of hours of walking around we were ready for a rest & some refreshment and one establishment that caught our eye was a 2nd floor coffee shop called Cafe French (Suginami Ku, Koenji Kita 3-23-13; Tel: 03-5327-6789).
A short climb up the stairs found us entering a cozy place where we were able to get a window side table overlooking a portion of the square where the festival would be staged.
Checking out the menu we saw a drink called "Dutch Coffee." Intrigued by the name we asked the owner what Dutch Coffee is. He explained that actually, the coffee has nothing to do with Holland, but Holland is known as a water country and since water is so important to the brewing of good coffee he named this particular drink Dutch Coffee. He explained that the Dutch Coffee would be served cold, in wine glasses, and it is best drunk without sugar or milk added. The coffee we drank today was actually brewed in April of 2006 and has been "resting and aging" in the storage fridge since that time. His Dutch Coffee typically rests and ages between 8,000 to 20,000 hours before he serves it. He uses a special water, which was also in our water glasses, and it did have a nice soft, odor and chemical free taste.
The coffee is made by putting the water into a round globe that rests atop a stand that is about 4 feet high. From there it drips very slowly - about 1 drop every 3 seconds - into a glass container full of ground coffee. The owner told me that each container full of coffee is different as coffee is different according to when, where, and how it was grown, the age of the beans, and the roast.,He said that each coffee has its own bio-rhythm. Every drop of water that drips into the coffee grounds takes 23 seconds to filter its way through the coffee to the pot below. Once that pot is full it will be poured into containers & put away to age until he judges that it is the right time to drink it.
At 900 yen (about US$9.00) one doesn't gulp this coffee down in a hurry. We took an hour and a bit to sit there & savor our coffee sip by sip. We accompanied the coffee with a piece of dark chocolate - not too sweet - cake and the combination was excellent.
The menu at Cafe French consists of a few coffee choices, some tea, and a very few cake choices such as cheesecake, chocolate cake, or pound cake.
There were a few empty wine bottles on the counter and I was hoping there would be some wine on the menu. But, the owner said those bottles had been gifts from his customers and in any case, all were empty! He said that his first choice of beverage is wine, with his second being coffee, and he prefers to drink the wine and serve the coffee! Good man!
Cafe French is open from noon to 22:00 (20:00 on Sundays & holiday) and closed on Thursdays.
If you're in Koenji be sure to give it a try. If you're not, it's worth the trip for a place to sit for an hour or so over a very tasty & relaxing cup (or glass) of coffee. Reservations are accepted.