Most people have their own personal rituals when it comes to tea and coffee, be it milk and two sugars, or black without cream. These almost mechanical exercises help shape our days, and for the late-risers, a cup of coffee might come from the cheerful beeping of a Nespresso machine, while for early birds might have the time and energy to carefully draw circles upon circles of steaming water on a V60 drip. There’s a psychological benefit too, especially on cold, dark winter mornings when you need that transitory experience to transport your mind far away from the comfort of warm sheets.
The physical process of waiting for an espresso to bubble up from the stove is addictingly meditative, but for me, the metronomic sound of coffee dripping from a filter is by far the most satisfying brewing method. I found myself drawn to the process in Tokyo’s Chatei Hatou, a dimly lit coffee house in the middle of Shibuya that is said to have inspired the (now goliath) Blue Bottle Coffee brand in California. Coffee is simple in Chatei Hatou –it’s just hot water and charcoal roasted coffee ground without a Frappuccino in sight.
The staff at Chatei Hatou have brought this concept of a personal ritual into their preparations and presentations, as each barista will thoughtfully choose a cup and saucer to match its end user. Hardly efficient, and seemingly unnecessary step at first, but neither the guests or staff seem to be in much of a hurry here. They might offer take-away, but we certainly didn’t see anyone bumble in with an order, and disappear with a cardboard cup.
During my visit, I tried Chatei Hatou’s hot cappuccino, a decadent evolution of the original pour over, garnished with fresh cream and infused with orange zest, again – small touches of creativity that still linger with me months later.
It’s in these details and gestures that make our everyday lives that much more special. Because just like how a careless act such as forgetting your keys can make for the start of a terrible day, a quiet moment where a cup of coffee is thoughtfully brewed can give you a spot of goodness before (or after) the daily grind.
Chatei Hatou can be found in Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 1-15-19, Tokyo. Open 11:00 – 23:00 every day.