Japan Eats

Cafe Review: Artisan Coffee, Fukuoka

Kupa Hokianga reviews Artisan Coffee in Fukuoka

Recently, a friend of mine took one of his colleagues to a cafe I recommended for its excellent macchiato.
The coffee arrived at their table, the ham-handed colleague managed to spill his before tasting it. My friend offered to order another, but the guest responded, “Ah, doesn’t matter; I’m more a Starbucks kind of guy.”

My heart sunk when told. I’m not sure what the moral is here, something about a horse and water.

Artisan's Rocket espresso machine in action (Photo: Neil Witkin)

My wife’s friend recommended I try Artisan Coffee, a 12-seat, slightly bohemian cafe in Hirao (Fukuoka). It’s off my normal route, but the sample of their beans I received suggested it was worth a visit.

Takamiya-dori is a busy road in a prosperous residential part of town. When we arrived, the small cafe, which could be described in a 1980 Vogue magazine as “shabby chic”, was empty of customers. I ordered an espresso and my wife selected a caramel latte.

While making polite conversation with friends, I watched the barista out of the corner of my eye as he calibrated the grinder setting one notch to the right before a quick test into the palm of his hand, then fresh ground a dose of dark roasted beans before effortlessly swiping the port-a-filler level; a gentle tamp and tap and a few seconds later the extraction had started. My demitasse arrived with a perfectly proportioned warmed spoon on the side.

The espresso was near faultless – the crema maintained structure, the temperature was perfect, and the caramel sweetness from the bean came through with just a hint of bitterness. The macchiato I ordered next was excellent and is now my coffee of choice.

I cannot comment on my wife’s afternoon caramel latte as that drink at that time of day goes against everything I believe in. I took her word for it when she said it tasted fantastic and the rabbit face latte art was kawaii.

Artisan Coffee is a must-do, mainly because they consistently get the coffee basics right and to a high standard and the starchy Japanese cafe culture is tossed out the window.

The barista critique and my coffee snobbery aside, if you just want nice coffee and don’t mind mismatched decor, grab your favorite magazine, turn off your phone and enjoy this small indulgence. You will not be disappointed. The cappuccinos are creamy, the macchiato is full-bodied and the barista is working on his flat white.

Food selection is limited, so don’t arrive hungry, but there’s a relaxed, informal ambiance and outdoor smoking tables. Coffee prices start at 380 yen, which is exceptional value. Surprisingly seating always seems to be available. Their primary bean is Fidalgo Bay (organic shade grown), the espresso machine is a single-head Rocket.

This article has been edited. The original version misspelled Fidalgo. This has now been corrected.

Artisan Coffee is located on Takamiya dori. If accessing from Hirao station, it’s about 5 minutes’ walk on the right as you head towards Yakuin station. Open 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., six days a week. No website.

About Kupa Hokianga
Kupa Hokianga lives in Fukuoka his with wife and three children. Their company, Fabulous Flavours, is a provider of specialty ingredients, caterer, and artisanal food producer. They also run contemporary cooking workshops for the public, including 'Cooking in English' workshops for children. Projects in 2011 include a Japanese language cookbook (featuring Ligurian ingredients) and a locavore menu showcasing Fukuoka producers. Fabulous Flavours is a major player in the urban-lifestyle outdoor kitchen movement and is establishing a mobile wood-fired pizza oven hire service with locations throughout Japan.


3 Responses to “Cafe Review: Artisan Coffee, Fukuoka”
  1. Kenny Jeong says:

    Dear Kupa,

    Hi Kupa,
    This is Kenny Jeong of Auckland,New Zealand.
    How have you been doing there?
    Remember. We used to share our office in 300 Queen street, AKL.
    It seems to me that you are now based in Japan. I thought you had lived in Sydney.
    Kupa, would you be able to drop me a line at kennyksj@gmail.com?
    Mob: 64 21 624 741

  2. Anonymous says:

    Guess I didn’t find it, because right in that area I found only 1 pretty bare modern hipster cafe with corner view by the canal. Very hipster but I have no fixie nor ironic moustache. It has 1 coffee pot and a Mac computer positioned prominently. Looks very coffee fanatic and has no name.

    I went to China cafe across from Starbucks and Apple store, where they have an impressive selection of teas and coffee.


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  1. […] Artisan Coffee was closed when I visited in 2013. I had read this excellent review on Japan Eats blog and was keen to check out the single headed Rocket machine. A couple of guys […]

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