Of all the amazing cafes in Kyoto, one stands out above the rest.
% Arabica is a world-class joint with a branding that is unbeatable. Their three locations in Kyoto are constantly packed with lines a hour thick tourists and locals.
I knew % Arabica existed because I had read about them in the café catalogs, as a matter of fact, they made the cover of this one:
But I had no idea how fun it would be to visit all three of their locations in search of good coffee…and the sandwich.
The thing I ordered at every location was a latte. And it was perfect every time. Only two things go into a latte: espresso and milk, but the way you prepare these two ingredients can make or break the drink, and % Arabica gets is right every time.
The other thing I always ordered was their sandwich, which is a simple crispy French baguette, with butter and prosciutto. It’s the only piece of food their serve but it sells out every day
Their most popular location is in Ninenzaka, a historic neighborhood at the foothills of the Kiyomizu Tera temple, the most popular tourist attraction in Kyoto. Their shop is well places on the main drag so that when tourists come down from the temple, they are sure to see this chic store and stop in for coffee.
Often their staff were kimono or yukata but the day I visited they were in western clothes.
For some reason, this location has become a popular spot for photoshoots. Girls renting yukata and kimono for the day make sure to stop off at this café for photographs.
In attempt to replicate the yukata-with-% Arabica-coffee phenomenon in Kyoto, I myself rented a yukata and visited the Daimaru location. This one is locate din the Daimaru department store, but it is still a fascinating experience. Their seating tunnel feels positively space-age. And of course my friends and I took lots of photos.
The third and final shop we visited was the Arashiyama location. In fact, this was the entire reason we went to Arashiyama. I had no desire to see the monkey park (I saw enough monkeys in my own back yard in Shimane), nor the bamboo forest, which was also common where I lived in the countryside. But I'm glad I finally took the 40-minute train to Arashiyama to see % Arabica, because the location was stunning.