The word ‘artisanal’ may be overused but there is something endearing about the handcrafted chocolates Honey Coffee 15351 offers. An Italian-style café-restaurant–wine bar located in the peaceful Nakameguro neighbourhood, it is the first Honey Coffee in Tokyo, the other being in Fukuoka.
Honey Coffee 15351‘s owner Asahi used to be a sommelier and pâtissier in Italy before he headed back to Japan and honed his craft at Fukuoka Honey Coffee. That explains the comforting waft pervading the cafe as we waited for our coffee orders. The logo has a tongue-in-cheek treatment: 1530051 is the district code and the double zeroes are cleverly replaced by the outline of two coffee beans.
Fresh cacao beans from Colombia, North Sierra Nevada are roasted in-house with nothing but sugar, using traditional methods from Mexico and Italy to bring out intense flavours. Wrapped like candies, the chocolates we tried are from Arhuwacos, Finca St. Rafael and Tumaco. The combination of rich cacao and crisp orange zest makes the chocolate from Arhuwacos a delectable taste experience. The chocolate from Finca St. Rafael has a winey acidity that complements the chocolate while the one from Tumaco has a lime-like tartness that accentuates the smoothness of cacao.
We spotted the book A-Z Coffee by Norwegian illustrator Lars K Huse and graphic designer Harald J. Vøyle on the fridge. We asked to browse book and the reticent Asahi became chatty. Harald had dropped by Honey Coffee 15351 and gave Asahi a copy of the book. Presented as a visual glossary containing definitions with explanations and cross-references to other specialty coffee related information, the book picked up a prestigious award for “Årets Vakreste Bøker” (this year’s most beautiful book). My French-pressed Honduras El Capucal arrived after 5 minutes; it has a round mouthfeel, subdued citric acidity and a clean finish.
Enjoying a tender moment with my girlfriend, we shared nibbles of the sample chocolates. Teasing banter and endearing moments of everyday life are rare as we are in a long distance relationship. If only I can capture them, I thought. Then again, such moments are precious because they are destined to be lost. Like these moments, artisan skills are lost in a world of mass-produced consumerism. We are not just losing folkloric handcrafted products but a language of material, provenance and making.
“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”
I finally understood what he meant.
Website: Honey Coffee 15351
Address: 1F 1-10-5, Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Update (Mar 2014):
PARKING COFFEE X CACAO WORKS has ceased operations at the end of Feb 2014. Thank you for your support.