Berlin is a city full of flavour. Rich in colours and aromas, people and cultures. Well known for its art- and clubbing scene, perhaps less so, for its vibrant coffee culture. But here, the so-called “third wave” of coffee has been steadily percolating, evident in the perfectly balanced espresso macchiato, expertly served at Reichebergerstrasße’s café % Arabica.
It’s exactly this mix of fresh and offbeat cultures that inspired Japanese founder Kenneth Shoji, to open % Arabica’s first european store in the perky heart of the city. And so it happened, that a coffee in Kreuzberg moved beyond consumption and became artisanal.
As in the Japanese fashion of watching before eating (or drinking as the case may be), latte art has become the first step in the ritual of coffee drinking.
This “coffee as an art form” is largely thanks to Junichi Yamaguchi, global head Barista and the 2014 Coffee Fest Latte Art World Champion. Together Yamaguchi and Soji have created a brand that truly celebrates beautifully made coffee–going straight to the farmers to source the perfect blend of beans. In fact, Shoji owns his own coffee farm in Hawaii, although the beans are only available at HQ.
Stepping into the sleek, minimal % Arabica space, it’s hard to imagine that the very first store was a modest kiosk in a remote residential Hong Kong supermarket. As the son of international traders, Kenneth found his passion for coffee through his travels and was stirred into action by the lack of a good brew in his area.
Later he would open his flagship store in the beautiful historic city of Kyoto. Today they have over 40 locations around the world.
Designed by designer Karo San, the Kreuzberg store is Japanese in its aesthetic as well. Minimal and simplistic with every detail painstakingly considered and just the right blend of elements to create a relaxing atmosphere. With well-chosen pieces and tasteful finishes the store have little decorative elements other than the world map against its southern wall. A symbol you will find in every Arabica store thanks to Soji’s “See the world through coffee” centiment–a program that offers worldwide travelling internships to aspiring baristas.
Whether it’s the elegant design of the interior, grounded in a culture of deliberation, or the smooth taste of their artfully finished macchiato, there’s plenty here to be admired. In celebration of international coffee day, it’s most fitting to find your daily pick-me-up in a cup that isn’t just skilfully crafted, but in many ways, just as international as our vibrant city.
- ARABICA COFFEE
- Reichenberger Str. 36
- 10999 Berlin