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There are Reasons behind Great Tastes. Enjoying Specialty Coffee in the Good Old Market Place at [COFFEE potohoto] (in Naha)
post : 2019.01.31 23:00
The comfortable sound of coffee dripping in the mornings when you’re still half dreaming. That dripping sound can be expressed as “poto, hoto”, which is “drip, drip” in Japanese onomatopoeia. The rhythm of the coffee dripping starts out slow, then begins to pick up the pace. It’s a magical melody that brings us back to the real world from the land of dreams. That sound is the name of the shop, COFFEE potohoto. It’s located deep in Naha, at Sakaemachi Market. The shop is known to serve top class coffee in Okinawa.
The master of the shop is Testsuji Yamada, who is like a craftsman always honing his skills to create something better, or a researcher who combines several conditions in search of the best results, and perhaps like a devout truth seeker committed to his pursuits. With his partner, Sae Yamada, and his staff Shigeta Asato who commutes all the way from Yomitan, Tetsuji has been running his shop here since 2006. The shop is small but is a huge presence in the world of specialty coffees in Okinawa.
The first item I tried today was the Spanish-style Iced Expresso. I was told to squeeze the lemon with the back of the spoon and mix with the coffee to enjoy the refreshing taste. The lemon was also special, grown organically by farmers who are particular about the quality of their products. The taste of the coffee was a first. I had never had anything like it before.
Apparently, this is how this coffee is enjoyed in Valencia, Spain, but it’s perfect for the long summers in Okinawa, too. The blended taste of the refreshing lemon and the espresso almost made me speechless.
I had heard of this shop, how popular it is with the locals and with tourists, too. In writing this article, I learned more about the shop and its people. I saw that they really work hard to find the best way to enjoy great coffee served with ice.
Yamada-san talked about the three most important factors in determining the greatness in taste; quality of the acidity, aftertaste, and balance. They started out with dripping to make their coffee, and then discovered the charm of French press. Lately, he’s hooked on expresso. Generally, most cafes serve espressos made on auto set, but at potohoto, they do manually, using a machine by La Cimbali.
The coffee beans for the specialty coffee all have great character; some are extravagant, sweet, mild, or creamy, with aroma like fruits, herbs or cacao. It takes great skill to bring out the uniqueness and value of each type of specialty coffee, all within a matter of 20 seconds or so.
The automatic setting on the expresso machines bring out about 60 to 70 percent of the uniqueness of each type of beans. Coffee is a very sensitive beverage, influenced by every aspect in the methods of cultivation, transportation, storage conditions, weather, roasting methods, etc. That’s why I look for the best conditions and to clear all those points really affects the taste. It’s a very difficult task, but when everything falls in to place, the joy is great. Espresso brings out the “core of taste” in the coffee beans,” says Yamada-san.
As I sipped on the espresso, the stereotype I had developed about espressos from my experiences were quickly dispelled. I thought, “Expressos are the same everywhere,” but was I wrong. The shock I felt was equal to the time when I first had a cup of coffee at potohoto, prepared with a French press. That said, though, taste is different with everyone, and what to drink would be different for every taste, so here are some different types of coffee recommended at potohoto.
For those of you who aren’t big fans of coffee and don’t drink it much on a daily basis, the French pressed coffee that brings out the delightful charm of lightly roasted coffee beans is great. For coffee lovers, their cappuccino will impress you with their creamy and smooth impression that it leaves on your palate. And for the real pros, their espresso. The espresso at potohoto was so impressive, prepared with the coffee beans that are just right, roasted perfectly, and the method of brewing that matched everything. Even professionals will think, “I’m so glad to know about this coffee.” These are the three types that Yamada-san recommended.
And yes, I also want to recommend some sides for you to try with your coffee at potohoto. Shown above is their Cream Sand-Croissant. The sugar-pickled Wakayama lemon peels and the lemon syrup that lays between the slice in the croissant really brings out the gentle sweetness of the whipped cream. Their dessert breads change according to season, so be sure to enjoy their delicious sweets each time you go.
Yamada-san believes, “Quality should be valued accordingly and the cost that of this quality should be met.” He hopes to spend as long as he can to contribute to creating a society where we all can support the production of good, quality products.
He also works to spread the concept of enjoying coffee as part of a lifestyle, with the key phrase, “Coffee as Culture.” This is (was) the concept behind the “Okinawa COFFEE festival” held in autumn (of 2016, when the original article was written). He is actively involved in putting together unique events such as this, offering suggestions on lifestyles through coffee. The festival attracted coffee roasters and specialty shops from around Okinawa, and showed “A Film About Coffee”. They also held workshops and seminars to invite people to enjoy coffee from various angles. If you happen to be in Okinawa for such an event, I recommend you stop by.
Address: Sakae-Machi Market, 388-1 Asato, Naha City, Okinawa
Business Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Mon-Thu) & 10:00-19:00 (Fri & Sat)
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Nobuya Fukuda