Mister Coffee


Singapore, Singapore

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Artist's Description

Junichi Miyamto probably makes the best coffee in all of Tokyo.

Well, maybe there is no such thing at “the best coffee” because it depends on individual taste, doesn’t it? He made me two cups of coffee that morning and one tasted better than the other. So let me re-phrase that…

Junichi Miyamoto probably makes coffee in the best possible way in all of Tokyo. He makes it the traditional way, using a glass percolator and a gas burner that reminds me of the chemistry lab during my school days.

He is probably the only cafe owner who makes coffee this way in the whole of Tokyo – in this case, in the district of Kita Senju in the North Eastern part of Tokyo.

I need to qualify with the word ‘probably’ because who knows? Tokyo is such a huge place. But then, people who do things the traditional way are a rarity, in any city. So it’s quite a safe bet to say that nobody else makes coffee the way he does, probably not in Tokyo or even in most other parts of Asia.

Miyamoto-san is a jolly man who wear a bow tie, metal-rimmed spectacles, a moustache and a ready smile. His favorite music is jazz and his favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald.

My friend and guide used to visit the small “Coffee Shanty” – that’s what Miyamoto-san calls his cafe – everyday. “He doesn’t normally speak English, I was surprised,” he tells me on the day I visited.

As is the Japanese custom, Miyamoto-san gives me his business card. But unlike the boringly-designed cards of large Japanese corporations, his is colorful – with a drawing of a pair of spectacles, a set of moustache and a cup of coffee. Yet the card does not even state his name and he had to write it down.

In fact, he gave me two cards – a peach colored one titled Autumn and an olive-green one titled Happy Winter. "My daughter designed them,” he says proudly, adding that I would get different cards next Spring and Summer.

At ¥400 a cuppa, such excellent brew might be considered cheap by Tokyo standards, where regular coffee-chain coffee might cost anywhere from ¥170 to more than ¥400.

I asked Miyamoto-san what got him into the coffee business. He gave a very, very long pause that could have lasted 5 minutes, before he finally replied: “C’est la vie!

Taken in Natural Light, ISO 2000, 1/20sec f5, exp bias -0.33

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