The passionate pursuit of an ideal


Kodawari is the noun form of kodawaru, an intransitive verb meaning “to be sensitive to minor things”.

Japanese Culture and Behavior: Selected Readings., edited by Takie Sugiyama Lebra, William P. Lebr

“Kodawari, the desired quality of focus and perfection-seeking, is a constant goal for makers of coffee, and fine craftsmen in any art in Japan. What he calls kodawari is dedication to his work, comprising service, skill in making coffee, and an uncompromising sense of the importance of what he does” – Coffee Life In Japan, Merry White (2012)

Japan street from Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels


Kissaten – which literally means ‘a room to drink or taste tea’ –  are traditional places, where locals like to relax in quietness or socialize while enjoying a drink and perhaps a light meal.

Kissaten are a significant part of Japan’s rich and inspiring culture. As coffee started to become popular in Japan at the end of the eighteenth century due to overseas trading with the Netherlands, Kissaten owner began to focus on serving coffee drinks. Therefore, Kissaten are also the birthplace of Japan’s thriving coffee culture.

A defining characteristic of a Kissaten is the Japanese traditional concept of Kodawari – the uncompromising and relentless devotion to an activity, an art or a craft. It refers to the attention to minor details and the celebration of being mindful and responsive to the present.

japan street
Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

The artisanal owner of Kissaten embody the kodawari spirit!

They devote their time to create the best coffee drinks and overall experience for their guests. Kissaten owner are passionate to create experiences that are memorable and truly have meaning.

Each Kissaten is unique and has its own story to tell. They are not ‘faceless’, but reflect the personalities and visions of their owners. Instead of living the dream of somebody else, Kissaten owner pursue their own dreams and goals.

plate with food and cat

James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee visited Japan as a teenager for the first time. The experiences during this visit, as he points out, blew him away:

“I’ve really been inspired by Japanese coffee houses, called kissaten,” says Freeman. “They’re dowdy and unfashionable, but they’re deeply personal.” “All of these places have a deep kodawari.”

Experiencing Japan’s Kissaten culture – inspired him to establish the Oakland-based artisanal roaster Blue Bottle Coffee.

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