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Mocha Coffee: The Lingering Charm From Yemen to Tokyo

By Christina Chen
June 19, 2019
Updated: August 27, 2020
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Mocha Coffee is hiding along on a peaceful road in the Daikanyama area. It is easy to miss it if you aren’t paying attention, but whoever stumbles upon this little cafe is sure to enjoy it. Following a beautiful path overgrown with plants, you will meet Maiko, the owner of this unique Tokyo cafe. Gentle music plays as sunshine streams into the room, which made me love this place even before the first sip of coffee. Exquisite tea sets are displayed on the wall and Maiko will use one of those cups to serve you. There were not many other people in the early afternoon, so I sat at the bar counter to listen to the story about Maiko and Yemeni coffee.

Daikanyama's Mocha Coffee Shop

the storefront of mocha coffee

“Mocha coffee” refers to coffee from the city of Mocha in Yemen, which has a mild chocolate aftertaste. Because they use manpower rather than machines to harvest the beans, the output of mocha coffee is very low. Many cafes copy the taste by adding chocolate syrup.

Coffee beans from various regions in Yemen are very different, but they all have one distinguishing feature--their earthy and deep flavor. This is due to the lack of water and the dry climate of Yemen. Yemen is the only country in the world that uses the sun-dried technique. This technique allows the flavor to be locked inside the coffee beans. Moreover, no chemicals are used when farmers plant coffee trees in Yemen and all coffee cherries are hand-picked at small farms.

a cup of coffee from mocha coffee

Maiko describes the uniqueness of Yemen coffee in one sentence: “It is grown the same way that farmers grew coffee trees thousands of years ago.”

Due to the ongoing civil war in Yemen, it is extremely hard to buy coffee from locals. However, because of the connection that Maiko has in Yemen, she has access to the best quality Yemen coffee beans.

Maiko’s ex-husband is from Yemen and they lived there together for a couple of years. Nine years ago, they moved back to Japan. They could not find any Yemen coffee in Tokyo, so they decided to open their own cafe. After Maiko’s ex-husband left her seven years ago, she started to operate this cafe by herself. Her taste in music, tea sets, and interior decor make this coffee shop such a cozy spot for people to relax.

the owner is making coffee

Maiko decides to only serve hand drip coffee because of the high price of coffee beans. She passed on some hand dripping techniques to me. First of all, the temperature of the water is essential. You need to let the boiling water cool down to 90 degrees Celsius. If the temperature of the water is too high, the coffee will be overly bitter. Secondly, you have to pour the water in the middle instead of on the side. Since the water will drip more slowly in the middle, it will carry more flavors.

There are more than ten different kinds of coffee are provided in the store. Don’t hesitate to ask Maiko for suggestions. If you taste something that you really like, you could buy a 200-gram bag of coffee beans to make your own coffee at home. Maiko also provides handmade, traditional Arabic sweets and cakes in the cafe, so if you have a sweet tooth you will not want to miss those adorable desserts.

dessert

Mocha Coffee Access Information

Address:  〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Sarugakucho, 25−1 エディ代官山 1F

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

For the full list of the area's most Instagrammable coffee shops, check out these stunning cafes in Daikanyama!

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Christina Chen
Chrissy grew up in Chengdu, China and she studies in the United States. Currently, she is travelling and writing blogs in Tokyo. She loves cooking, food hunting, and eating by herself. She believes that food could bring people together. May the delicacy be with your life.
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