Translated by Lester Somera
Kobe Nishimura Coffee - Timeless Landmark Beloved By Everyone
Written by Osawa Kumi
This article introduces Nishimura Coffee, a Kobe institution beloved by locals and visitors alike. The uncompromising flavor of its coffee, the German-style design and the long history make it one of Kobes landmarks.
A Coffee Shop Beloved by Kobe Residents of Every Generation
In 1948 a small coffee shop opened on a street corner in the Kitano district of Kobe. Kobe Nishimura Coffee only had three tables at its outset. Now it has seven locations and one bakery in Kobe as well as three locations in other cities. For many people, this coffee shop represents the city of Kobe.
Beloved by Kobe residents and visitors alike, this comfortable cafe has carried on the intentions of its original founder, Kiyoko Kawase. He wanted to create a place and time where delicious food and beverages could be enjoyed by the shop’s customers in the otherwise difficult years after the war.
Kobe Nishimura Coffee is said to be a must-visit spot. We’ll take a look at the main Nakayamate location, with its beautiful German-style architecture as well as the historic Kitanozaka location, which used to be members-only.
1. The Elegant Retro Flagship Store in Nakayamate
The building on the far-left on the photo is the Nakayamate flagship store, built on land owned by the founder. Its German-style wood exterior stands out even on this busy street.
The white NISHIMURA’S COFFEE lettering emblazoned on a red background, as well as the large coffee mill by the entrance, are some of Kobe's landmarks. Coffee beans to take home are sold from the booth on the left side of the entrance.
You can find a model menu by the foyer. It uses Japanese food samples to make the choice easier. They look real, don’t they?
Find your Favorite Spot Inside the Coffee Shop!
The German-style on the inside and the outside of the coffee shop give off a sense of tradition and formality. The coffee shop has three floors, so you can easily find a spot you like. The picture above shows the second floor and there is a smoking section on the right-hand side of the first floor.
The third floor has warm brick walls, and the white wood-framed windows let in a soft light. Here you can indulge in the atmosphere while drinking a delicious cup of coffee.
All throughout the shop interior, there are various decorations such as unusual coffee mills and other coffee-related products. It almost feels like you’ve stepped foot in a coffee museum.
Carefully Prepared Coffee Made with Beans Roasted In-House
Nishimura Coffee is not just a cafe, but a place with boundless enthusiasm for coffee. Carefully selected and graded coffee beans are sourced from all over the world. They are roasted in small batches in the shop’s own roasting room and used to make the coffee in the shop.
Only Miyamizu, the famous water also used for brewing Nada sake, is used to brew the coffee. Miyamizu has just the right amount of hardness so the coffee develops a mild flavor.
Enjoy Sweets and a Light Meal with your Coffee
A light meal we recommend at Nishimura Coffee is the Canadian Set (1,050 yen with tax), which comes with a bacon-and-egg sandwich, a salad and a cup of coffee. Fresh bread is delivered daily from Nishimura Coffee’s bakery. You can also enjoy cakes from their Secession cake shop. The Käsekuchen(cheesecake) is especially popular.
Many Chinese and Korean tourists drop by the coffee shop and order by showing pictures of food that they’ve seen on blogs. The Nakayamate shop also offers Chinese and Korean menus so they can easily choose from the full menu.
Hospitality Conveyed Through Service and Tableware
You can feel the care in every detail of this long-standing shop, from the taste of the coffee to the hospitality of the staff. Pictured here is the lap blanket given to customers who order food. It is used to keep customers clothes clean even if they’re just having snacks.
Since 1964, Nishimura Coffee has used Aritayaki coffee cups. They have thick walls and an excellent heat retention so you can enjoy your cup of coffee to the fullest. There are also other services such as lending out bags for wet umbrellas. Please note that the Nakayamate shop does not accept credit cards. It is cash only.
2. The Kitanozaka Location - One of the Classiest Cafe's in Kobe
TheNishimura Coffee Kitanozaka shopis about a four or five-minute walk north from the main Nakayamate shop. It was the first members-only coffee shop to open in Japan and only made available to the public in 1995. Its very classy atmosphere, a remnant of the time when it was a members-only cafe.
The brick-walled building is covered in plants. Let’s take a look inside.
The interior could as well be an aristocrat’s villa. Go ahead and sit on one of the low chairs or sofas and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. This cafe will make you feel like you member of the upper class in the 1900s and make you forget about your travel fatigue.
This coffee and cake set is 1,200 yen with tax. In addition to the seasonal gateau aux fruits shortcake(pictured), you can choose from a vast lineup including the popular Käsekuchen(cheesecake), chocolate opera cake, and apple mango tarts.
The Kitanozaka location has English, Chinese and Korean menus. Photos of each cake are displayed alongside their names. Sandwiches and light meals are also available.
The second floor is a restaurant with a classical feel to it. After you enjoyed your time in the coffee shop or restaurant, why not take a short walk up Kitanozaka to see the Kobe Muslim Mosque and the Weathercock House?
Overcoming the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
When the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit on January 17th, 1995, southern Hyogo Prefecture, where Kobe is located, as well as Kyoto and Osaka, suffered severe damage. Nishimura Coffee’s shops were also damaged, but fortunately, none of them were completely destroyed. Even the flagship store in Nakayamate, which was the severely damaged, was able to reopen just four months after the earthquake.
The long-standing coffee shop, which had gained the trust of its customers over many years and had been able to overcome many difficulties. It is known as a place of spiritual support for its customers. It might look like a noble’s villa at first, but for its regulars, coming to Kobe Nishimura Coffee feels like coming home.
The shop’s warm atmosphere is surely what has kept the staff devoted to putting their utmost effort into delicious treats and customer care throughout the years. It surely has created loyal customers who love every minute they stay at the cafe.
When you come to Kobe, don't forget to drop into Kobe Nishimura Coffee to experience it yourself!
In cooperation with Kobe Nishimura Coffee