I have a feeling that a number of great coffee shop in Japan are often located in the most unlikely places and Cafe Tikal is no exception to the rule.
This friendly coffee shop is hidden behind the gate of the Kogawa family residence in the castle town of Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Hagi is a small town on the Sea of Japan packed with beautiful residences and small shops. Cafe Tikal is located in a residential area just off the main shopping area, you are most likely to walk in front of it without noticing it.
The coffee shop itself is a small building surrounded by weird sculptures and objects.
The chimney coming out of the building is hooked to a beautiful roaster. The coffee shop is very homey and encourages people to relax and enjoy their coffee. There is a long window with a view of the garden, we sat on the banquette for the sake of watching the owner coffee-making skills.
The coffee menu is separated in roasting strength from deep roast to light roast. I ordered a coffee from Columbia and watched the owner carefully prepare it.
From my banquette, I noticed an old book sitting over the door, I asked the permission to take a look at it. It turned out to be a 1976 edition of All About Coffee by William H Ukers which I had never heard about. The thick volume was filled with great information about coffee and I asked the owner where he found it.
–30 years ago at the Maruzen bookstore in front of Tokyo Station, this is how I started learning about coffee, I read it with a dictionary.
I fell in love with Cafe Tikal right away.
The owner has not taken the minimalist approach to decoration which is often seen in coffee shops, his toy collection and his books are displayed all over the coffee shop.
There is also numerous coffee paraphernalia from a coffee grinder from France to an old espresso machine left outside to rust.
Since my wife and I were staying in Hagi overnight, we decided to go back the next day to try some new blends. We ordered an Ethiopian and a coffee from Sumatra which were both really good with a slight personal preference to the Sumatra coffee. Since we had plenty of time, we ordered a cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain. The coffee was very fragrant and I would qualify it as a great occasional afternoon coffee, definitely not a daily brew.
I left with 2 bags of coffee beans and the impression that I had found a really good coffee shop.
It is most unfortunate that Cafe Tikal is so far from my house since I could easily spend the next rainy Sunday there with a book and a great cup of coffee.
It’s one of these place where I promised myself to go back, if you are ever traveling in Yamaguchi, make a detour by Hagi and try it for yourself.
The coffee shop currently doesn’t have a website, but it’s possible to order coffee by phone.