Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cafe de l'Ambre, Ginza (カフェ・ド・ランブル)

Coffee only. Only coffee. While things like that ordinarily make me want to request a danish on the side, maybe a sugar cookie, I feel a lot of respect for this place and have always wanted to go. It's just down the street from my Ginza bar of choice, Fal, so it's weird that it took me...let's see, from the first time I saw it, probably 12 years. Ah well. It's a big city, bigger than any one blogger can know.

Another unknowable is the number of beans Mr. Sekiguchi has roasted. If the shop has been open since 1948, and he's now 98 years old by my reckoning, and this was a Saturday in July...we'd be estimating, but I'd say it's a lot.

You'd expect that they put a lot of care into the thing, being 'coffee only' and Japanese and all that. Sure enough, the coffee is roasted in small batches, ground when you order it, and veeeery slowly dripped through filters handmade from the finest Colombian hemp, rolled on the thighs of virgins. It's fun to watch. You can feel like you're getting your money's worth.

Actually I have no problem with that feeling at l'Ambre. While other traditional kissa charge you ten bucks for a cup of coffee they poured through a musty filter earlier in the morning, here you're getting beans harvested in Guatemala in 1989. Or if you're more aggressive about it, 1954 in Colombia.

How this works, I don't know, but it's some damn interesting stuff. They do the fancy pouring ritual while all the tourists get jiggy with their fancy cameras,

and you get a cup of something that may or may not resemble coffee as you know it. We had two varieties from the 80's, and one of them was a bit like boiled twigs. I don't mean this in a bad way, because you're getting some weird and fascinating chemicals that you otherwise would have no way of tasting.

Except, like, on aaacid, maaaan. You can taste the colors, you know?

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