Beside Meguro River, a wide rectangular window cut into a crisp, white facade invites passersby to peer in. Beyond the delicate dried flowers lining the entryway, on an average day, you’ll likely find customers sitting at a long wooden table enjoying lattes or homemade organic sweets. There’ll be some travelers browsing the boutique at the far end of the room. And of course, you’ll see a local dog owner (or two) stopping in for a cup of coffee and to chat with Nami Kinoshita, the owner of Jaho Coffee Japan.
Kinoshita, a veteran in the Tokyo coffee scene, helped found PLAIN PEOPLE CAFE x Jaho Coffee just over two years ago in September of 2016. After working for three months at Jaho’s flagship store in Salem, Massachusetts as well as at one of the three Boston locations with the company’s founder, Anil Mezini, they decided to open their first shop in Tokyo. “I was so surprised when I saw Jaho [in the U.S.], it was my ideal coffee store,” Kinoshita recalls. Upon hearing about an opportunity to collaborate with Plain People, an upscale Japanese lifestyle brand, she felt that this bright, open space in Nakameguro would be the ideal spot for Jaho to plant roots in Tokyo.
PLAIN PEOPLE CAFE x Jaho Coffee is artfully integrated. Artisanal foodstuffs and hand-painted dishes line the shelves. You’re welcome to secure a seat and browse Plain People’s boutique while a trained barista crafts your drink. Although peaceful, the room is filled with colors and textures that shift along with the changing of the seasons. Summery plum tarts (designed and made in house) make way for pumpkin pudding in the fall. Plush cashmere sweaters and bright wool coats now hang in place of buttery soft silks.
At the end of December, Kinoshita will open an independent store, Jaho Coffee Roastery and Wine Bar, in the Tamachi neighborhood of Minato-ku. This shop, she noted, will be a bit of a diversion from the soft ambience of the Naka-Meguro store. “We tried to create a more colorful environment,” she explains. “There is art on the wall and a colorful, tiled floor. It should be warm and welcoming and we even ordered a yellow espresso machine.” At the new shop she will roast specialty beans in house. In the evening, Jaho Coffee Roastery and Wine Bar will offer wine and craft beer, another of Kinoshita’s passions.
Perhaps unlikely for a coffee shop within a boutique, Jaho Coffee has become somewhat of a communal meeting place. On my first visit to PLAIN PEOPLE CAFE x Jaho Coffee, I was welcomed with a smile and friendly conversation. Upon returning, I was greeted by name. Living in Tokyo, it’s hard not to become smitten with such warm, familiarity. I look forward to seeing what Jaho Coffee Roastery and Wine Bar brings to Tamachi.
PLAIN PEOPLE CAFE x Jaho Coffee
1-16-10 Aobadai, Meguro-ku
Jaho Coffee Roastery and Wine Bar
1F 5–29-11 Shiba, Minato-ku