I'm not normally a coffee drinker, but about two weeks ago I started to see photos popping up on Instagram of the most gorgeous coffee drinks I'd ever seen. Curious, I clicked through the tags and each time the source was the same - Ogawa Coffee.
Ogawa Coffee is a new addition to the Downtown Crossing neighborhood. The shop is located on Milk Street in between Downtown Crossing (near the Walgreens) and Post Office Square.
As you approach the storefront, you can tell right away that Ogawa Coffee is something special.
I arrived on a Friday morning at 8:45am and a line had already formed. For the next hour that line of people steadily regenerated. Though Ogawa Coffee is new, clearly the buzz is driving new people through the door each day.
When you walk in, the menu is in front of you, to the left.
At the top of the menu are little pictures that help you to understand what type of portion and preparation you'll be receiving with your order.
The space is drenched in sunlight from the floor to ceiling windows in front. The stenciled windows and walls are meant to transform the space into an imaginary coffee grove. The vibe they were going for is "urban oasis."
There are plenty of tables for reading, meetings or for freelancers who need to set up shop.
In the back right corner there's a set of risers. I'd seen something like this at a salad place in New York City, but it was fun to see this type of design arrive in Boston.
Ogawa Coffee was designed by Takako Oji, who is the Executive Director of Ogawa Coffee USA. She has an extensive background in architecture and design. With the risers, the goal is to eventually use them to turn the space into a teaching lab. People can sit at any level and still see what the barista is doing. The super cool thing is that the risers can be pushed in, collapsing and essentially doubling the amount of floor space.
On the morning I visited, I sat at the four seat coffee bar that overlooks the kitchen. This is where all the action is!
From my stool, I could watch in wonder and amazement as Haruna Murayama, the General Barista Trainer, meticulously prepared each drink.
Haruna has a very interesting story. She has been working as a barista since 2006 and in 2010 she won the World Latte Art Championship. She was the first woman to ever do so! #GirlPower
She joined the Ogawa Coffee team is 2012 and relocated from Kyoto, Japan to Boston to personally oversee this menu and to train all the baristas.
Watching her was like watching a mad scientist.
She individually places each element to ensure the drink is perfect. She reminded me of "Top Chef" winner Kristen Kish, who used to place herbs on her dishes with tweezers.
After much deliberation (and observing Haruna work her magic) I decided on Ogawa Coffee's signature drink. It's a cappuccino topped with Haruna's winning latte art design, paired with a chilled, foamed espresso.
How stunning is these presentation? I love the floral pattern in the shallow square of the plate and the height contrast between the petite cappuccino cup and the tall martini glass for the espresso.
Haruna's latte design is so breathtaking and beautiful, it feels wrong to ruin it! I found myself sipping right on the edge so I could preserve the design as long as possible.
I especially loved the floral design. You know I'm a sucker for anything pink.
As I mentioned before, I am not a huge coffee person, which is why I found it so surprising that my favorite part of the coffee pairing was actually the chilled espresso. Though espresso is quite strong, I really enjoyed the taste. It reminded me of a lot of coffee ice creams I have loved in my life.
My breakfast date ordered what's called the Kalita pour-over with Ogawa Coffee's Kyoto house blend. The Kalita filter is the most popular pour over tool in Japanese coffee shops.
This drink is served in Kiyomizu-yaki tea cups (well, coffee cups). Normally these cups are used for special occasions in Kyoto. Kiyomizu is known for their traditional tea ceremony cups and they made these just for Ogawa Coffee. Each cup has a flower painted on it to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
The Kalita pour-over arrived with tasting notes to help you learn about the house blend of coffee. People who are wine enthusiasts may recognize this approach to getting to know your beverage.
I couldn't get over the beautiful pastel, spring colors of the custom coffee cups.
I snapped this photo of the flower cup with Haruna pouring coffee in the background and it's my favorite shot from the whole visit.
Since we were there before work, it felt only right to fuel up with some breakfast food. We each requested the continental breakfast which comes with two pieces of toast, a sunny side up egg and a side salad.
The egg was expertly cooked and the yolk ran down the plate when you cut into it. The toast was way too dry on its own, but tasted much better with a piece of egg on top.
My only regret about my visit to Ogawa Coffee is that I went too early in the day to order any of their desserts! They have a unique sundae that is made with coffee flavored gelatin, fruit, roasted corn flakes, chocolate terrine and whipped cream that I am dying to try.
They have also partnered with local favorite Toscanini's to create a version of the Italian dessert affogato. After tasting Toscanini's frozen treats, Ogawa Coffee asked them to collaborate on an ice cream that would stand up to their piping hot espresso. So, Toscanini's created a version of their vanilla ice cream that is a bit more dense and won't turn to soup when drizzled with a shot of espresso.
Who wants to come with me to sample these two desserts?
Even if you don't live or work near Downtown Crossing, Ogawa Coffee is worth the trip. The space is stunning and serene, the hospitality of the staff is unmatched and the coffee drinks are exceptional, both in taste and in presentation.
*Though my breakfast at Ogawa Coffee was complimentary, all opinions are 100 percent my own.