Bowtie, Moustache & Spectacles
There’s an area in Fukuoka called Befu. It’s a peaceful neighbourhood with a river connecting directly to the Fukuoka bay. There’s an old street lined up with rustic shops – stirs up memories of the Shouwa era of Japan. Perhaps some shops have not changed in decades, as if frozen in time.
In April 2012 on this street, Sofu Coffee was born. Since then, the cafe has become the hub of the neighbourhood with people ranging from office workers to families to retired residents all coming down to enjoy some amazing coffee and dessert.
The picture above is the owner, roaster and barista Daisuke Yoshida. He’s always dressed up in a formal buttoned down shirt with a bowtie. His well groomed moustache and round spectacles are striking, and the same goes for his contagious and uplifting smile.
Yoshida-san really knows how to make his customers feel at home and enjoy the experience. His energy, charisma and charm are quite notable. He loves striking up interesting conversations and you’ll find yourself caught up in no time.
The Importance of Change
Sofu Coffee is modern with an artistic vibe. There’s something remarkable about the space inside. It’s as if it lives and breathes together with the seasons.
There’s a simple light-grey colour that makes up the walls and background of the cafe.
Then there’s the rest, which change with time and season.
Like the fresh flowers hand picked by Yoshida-san.
Every wednesday, he goes to buy flowers at the local flower shop. The flowers are fresh, beautiful and represent the season at present. You’ll always find a variety of them whenever you visit; it’s quite strange, but it’s as if the whole space accommodates the flowers to shine and showcase their beauty.
Then there’s the stone collector who always brings some different type of mineral rock.
You can also find pottery decorations by the counter. They are called Kyodo Gangu (郷土玩具）which are pottery toys very much a part of Japanese culture. The toys are made in a specific shape to represent the region. So you’ll never find the same in different parts of Japan, making them unique and valuable.
One day you may find something, and on a different day another; the change is very refreshing and something that you can always look forward to when visiting Sofu Coffee.
The Master in Okayama
Yoshida-san learned his trade working under the master in Okayama who runs a large roaster cafe called Esupuri Coffee.
It’s always a pleasure to listen to Yoshida-san and his stories about his master in Okayama. He’s also a great raconteur.
There’s one story that’s quite memorable.
The master’s cafe only had 3 counter seats. You’d think there would be a hefty number of counter seats with a capacity of around 60. But no, there were only 3 seats. Which meant that only loyal customers or friends of the master could sit there. Sometimes the master would be occupying one of the seats, watching his ten or so employees hustle and bustle in order to get coffee and food ready for customers.
Yoshida-san said that when the place got seriously busy, the staff had to nudge the master to help them out. The master would then try to make excuses like “ I don’t like making Iced Cocoa “, and the staff would retort “ But you’re the one who came up with the menu “.
While the master had a funny character and good humor, he was very dedicated to his coffee roasting craft.
That dedication is the reason Yoshida-san decided to own and run a roaster cafe, as well as using the nel-drip method to extract coffee – carrying on the tradition of his master.
The Blend Specialist
There are 4 blends at Sofu Coffee. Yoshida-san gives a concise explanation on what they are and how they taste on the menu.
His explanations are absolutely spot on. He seems to know what he wants to express with his blends. Also being a roaster, Yoshida-san has control over the coffee beans he selects, roasts, and mixes to make his blends. You can tell that a lot of thought and effort is put into perfecting the blends.
If you like acidity in your coffee, then go for the Sanmi blend. Try the Nigami blend if you prefer bitterness. Perhaps you can try the Horoniga for some good balance. Or the Karoyaka for some lightness.
Yoshida-san uses the flannel drip to make his coffee. The flannel has different properties when compared to the usual paper filter. One of those properties is the ability to allow tiny coffee oil particles to pass through and into the coffee being poured.
Oils naturally float on top and produce some kind of fragrance when warm. That’s why flannel-dripped coffee can be so fragrant. And the same goes for the coffee made by Yoshida-san.
Sofu Coffee is not only known for its amazing flannel-dripped coffee, but also for its amazing dessert.
Yoshida-san’s wife has a background in baking, having worked at a patisserie. The dessert she makes are top-notch; customers come sometimes just to buy the desserts.
There’s a mini-dessert display fridge at the entrance counter which are lined up with various desserts for that day. So you get the chance to choose what you want to pair with your coffee.
From cranberry white chocolate almond scones to rum-raisin cakes to banana cream puffs. You’ll find endless amazing desserts every time you visit.
Desserts also change with the season. So you’ll definitely be reminded of the season when you take a look at the dessert display.
A power couple serving delicious coffee and dessert. It does not get any better than that.
When visiting Fukuoka, take a short trip to Sofu Coffee where you’ll enjoy some amazing dessert and wonderful coffee. The atmosphere is wonderfully relaxing and cheerful. The change that’s tangibly felt through the decorations, dessert and flowers really is very refreshing and unique.
A definite must go for a relaxing and refreshing afternoon, or even a delightful dessert night out.
Address: 1 Chome-3-11 Befu, Jonan Ward, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture 814-0107
Open Hours: 13:00 ~ 22:00 ( Closed on Wednesdays and Special Occasions; sometimes you’ll find the cafe full, so just take a short walk and by the time you come back you’ll probably get a seat)
What to try the first time: Horoniga Blend and Rum raisin cake/Cheese Cake/Scones
What the locals go crazy for: Cream puffs usually served in the weekends, Coffee Jelly and Kakigori(fluffy shaved ice) for the summer