Experience Japan like a local


Is this- wait, can it be? Latte art in Tokyo? My eyes are deceiving me. I stare down at the latte art foliage built from the scientific composition of milk steamed to the perfect temperature married to velvet foam that is frothy and simple enough to manipulate with two shots of espresso that were pulled at just the right time from the machine that is at the prime of its life.

You can tell that it’s worn in enough that it’s comfortable with the surrounding environment, but not so much so that it’s getting tired enough to need repair soon, so the shots pour naturally perfect. This, mixed with a talented barista who can read the machine, take in the quality and freshness of the coffee beans before finding the perfect grind (which varies depending on tangents as detailed as the temperature of the room that day), poured into a ceramic mug creates the epitome of the perfect latte that makes you think if you were going to die at that very moment, you would die a happy woman because you would be drinking it.

As I sit here sipping on this perfect storm of a concoction, I begin to feel, well, homesick.

A taste of home


Growing up around the Seattle area, I have the aura of a coffee snob innately engrained in me, even on the other side of the world. This cafe is so reminiscent of what it’s like to be in my hometown. As my nostalgic time machine of a mind is sending my brain synapses memories, I take in my environment.

The manager is training a new employee who is awkwardly trying to take in her surroundings. I remember my first job in the coffee industry! A quaint cafe owned by a former employer that is still a close friend that is getting married to another former employer of mine, also a close friend and, ironically, also in the coffee industry, this upcoming week.

The last time I was in town, the cafe had been turned into a successful smoothie shop. Wait- was that ten years ago? Am I getting old? That memory slowly fades as I take my next sip and stare into the froth starting to dissipate.

The sound of the beans grinding awaiting for their essence to be turned into the next epic masterpiece of art that can only be done justice by consuming brings me my next memory. I’m working at my first drive thru coffee stand job in my hometown. I lost a lot during that time period in my life.

Literally. I lost part of my finger in a coffee grinder accident at work.

Trip down memory lane

streamer latte art

The caffeine is starting to kick in.

That buzzing feeling behind my ears rapidly springs my next memory into the forefront of my mind as a couple of teenagers walk in with their skateboards, beanies, shaggy but fashionable hair, and retro plaid shirts. I can’t help but think about all the times my friends and I would make snide remarks about hipsters over hemp chai tea lattes in a dim lit cafe with retro furniture and vintage books on revamped bookshelves that were obviously Pinterest projects.

Wait a second. I look down at my torn up cargo jeans I’ve had for about six years, oversized black t-shirt that hangs over my left shoulder to reveal my sparrow tattoo, and my glasses sitting next to my latte I don’t have a prescription for. I have become my own worst nightmare.

But you know what? I’m okay with that.

 Oh, how the cycles of life change. Riding out the waves of life is much better with good coffee. I should write Streamer Coffee Company a thank you note. Speaking of notes, on a side note, this actually is a good latte. The blend is complex and halfway through my latte, I can still taste the citrus notes in the espresso. It adds to the latte as you consume it instead of making it bitter as the temperature of the drink changes.

I can say that honestly and it’s not just because I haven’t had coffee from the Pacific Northwest in a while.

As the last memory in my mind started to fade, I realized I had about two sips left of my latte. You can see some of the grounds at the bottom as I start to swish my memory fountain around. Here it is. The last one. What will my mind conjure up next?

I remember Christmas morning. My mom opened a box to receive her first coffee maker. I don’t think it’s the same one she has now, but I know it created a pattern in her life that she still enjoys when she isn’t drinking tea, which I think she mostly does now. 

I remember when she was doing a low carb diet and I would always make her a SF Vanilla Breve and I never had the heart to tell her there really weren’t that many less carbs in a breve compared to a latte. I remember telling her it was simply a travesty to save the coffee from the day before and reheat it.

There’s that engrained coffee snob in me coming out. You can take the girl out of the Pacific Northwest, but there will always be a girl judging you on your coffee making abilities, no matter where she is in the world.

As I’m taking my last sip of this therapeutic latte, I’m snapped out of my trip down memory lane.

Staring at the dregs left at the bottom of my mug after what I now realize has been hours in this cafe, instead of still feeling reminiscent, I’m just feeling how much love I have for my mother in this very moment. All from a cup of beautifully prepared coffee, my friends.

streamer coffee harajuku

Streamer Coffee Company provides a youthful, fun, productive environment that enables art to enter the coffee world in Japan. It’s the perfect place to relax, study, work, or in my case, have a therapy session. I am simply tickled that I am able to witness this happening in Asia. If someone had told me almost five years ago, when I just got back from my first trip to China, I would be seeing this now, I would have laughed in their face in my gently ripped hipster cargo jeans I’m currently wearing now. On a technical note, as a former Washingtonian and current coffee snob that is not easy to please, it’s a damn good latte. They know what they’re doing. Even if it wasn’t good coffee, which it is, it would be worth going to experience the environment.

Until next time, Streamer Coffee Company.

P.S. No baristas were harmed during this therapy session. They just got a really big tip.

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