The Coffee Shop you must stop by in Sapporo: RITARU COFFEE

RITARU COFFE
Image by COMMUNE

Here at Helping Dragon, we love to introduce you to charming places hidden gems to give you the most unique experience of Japan possible.

This time, we’d like to introduce RITARU COFFEE in Sapporo.

With its own unique roasting techniques, this coffee shop is situated in the famous gourmet district of Maruyama in Sapporo. 

Originally renovated from an old Italian restaurant that was sold with all its furniture intact, this is a lovely out-of-the-way space that we would love for our readers to go and enjoy.

We sat down with the owner of RITARU, Etsushi Mikami, to hear all about what makes this coffee shop so unique and its story so far.

Etsushi Mikami : Founder of Ritaru
Image by COMMUNE

Profile of Etsushi Mikami:

Trained for ten years in the Sapporo coffee shop Miyataya, which also roasts its own coffee beans.

Mikami learnt coffee sales and distribution on the job and opened RITARU COFFEE on March 1, 2010, after accumulating experience in roasting coffee beans, updating websites, manufacturing coffee beans for wholesale, and coordinating between his store and other companies.

First : How the Author knows RITARU

How I got to know this coffee shop is from his parents that is now a local in Sapporo.

My dad is insanely in love and passionate in coffee, and after trying out most coffees in Sapporo, he and his wife both are in love with RITARU.

They do drink coffees from different shops while on travel, but they have been telling me that they would immediately crave for RITARU’s Coffee, and is one of the reasons they would want to come back home.

I do like the uniqueness of how the coffee tastes, and am always inspired by the passion Mikami puts into his coffee.

This is why I wanted you to know this coffee shop, and sharing my experience with RITARU.

So with that said, let’s move onto the story of RITARU.

Fresh beans roasted in store

First, let’s talk about the coffee.

Mikami roasts all of the beans used at RITARU Coffee himself. and is the person most responsible for distinguishing RITARU from other coffee shops.

Just like chefs are particular about the menus in their restaurants, Mikami shows just as much care and passion for his roasting. 

Just hearing him talk about the hard work and philosophy behind it is enough to inspire other people and the perfect rabbit hole for foodies and coffee lovers alike.

Light roasts emphasize acidity and lightness whereas medium and dark roasts bring out the smoothness and rich body of the coffee.
Image by COMMUNE

Wanting to provide patrons with the freshest coffee possible, Mikami decided it would be best to roast his own coffee fresh every day, despite the amount of extra effort this would entail. 

While taking the blend’s aroma, sweetness, delicious body, and bitterness into account, Mikami applied techniques that transformed the flavor of the coffee with the temperature change while still preserving a clear and non-bitter aftertaste.

The condition of the raw coffee beans is periodically checked, care is taken to ensure that fresh stock is bought in amounts that can be consumed in a short period of time, and the beans are carefully stored in sacks and barrels to minimize any drying out.

Coffee with a strong fragrance

Out of all of the blends and straight coffee that RITARU sells, we recommend the RITARU blend to first-time visitors.

It’s a dark roast made from a Kilimanjaro base with a gentle bitterness and deep body followed up by a refreshing aftertaste.

 Despite the fact that it is a dark roast, the roasting techniques used at RITARU ensure that it doesn’t taste too heavy, which is part of why it has become number one in store.

 It’s a great gateway to the world of RITARU Coffee, which is defined by its dark roasts and aromatic flavors.

The coffee is hand drip. Great care is taken to ensure that the extraction temperature is different for light roast and dark roast.
Image by COMMUNE

When I came to take pictures, I tried the set that included a RITARU blend coffee and a slice of RITARU roll cake.

RITARU Blend and RITARU Roll

RITARU Blend

“While it is difficult to strike the perfect balance between body, bitterness and refreshment, it’s more enjoyable to make than any other coffee. I’ve never changed the recipe, but each time I drink it, I find something new that I love about it. It’s the perfect comfort coffee for every day.”

Etsushi Mikami

Delicious! It’s extremely fragrant but doesn’t taste burnt, which is a sign of the high level of skill used to roast the beans.

The first time I felt like a coffee was “fragrant and delicious” was when I drank the RITARU blend.

One of my favorite things about this coffee is how when you drink the coffee and eat the fresh cream in the cakes, it almost tastes like you’re drinking a rich latte.

It has just the right amount of sweetness, so it’s perfect for people who aren’t so keen on sugar. It’s a very refined coffee flavor.

Image by COMMUNE

It’s also fun to try out lighter and darker blends using the RITARU blend as a starting point.

There are around twenty blends and straight coffees available, so there’s a flavor to suit everyone.

The perfect way to start your day

We also recommend trying out RITARU’s morning service which runs from 8:30–11:00 AM.

When you order a drink, you receive a breakfast set that also includes thick, half-toasted bread from Okameya Bakery in Kotoni and a boiled egg from Sakai Farm in Kuriyama, both local businesses of the area of Sapporo.

Lunch is also a great time visit and RITARU offers a varied lunch menu that includes pasta (tomato or cream sauce), hamburgers, hot dogs, toast, teriyaki chicken sandwiches, cheese toasties, and salads.

RITARU’s burgers are softer than their overseas counterparts.

Love for Hokkaido

Out of all the coffee shops in Sapporo, the main reason why we want you to visit RITARU is because of the love it shows for Hokkaido.

RITARU uses Hokkaido ingredients and has a passion for delivering the taste of Hokkaido even if this incurs extra costs and effort.

The exclusively-takeout cafe au lait is a prime example of this.

It combines a RITARU coffee base with milk from the local Yamanaka Farm

I stop by for the Take Out Caffe au lait whenever I go to Sapporo!

The modern kissaten coffee shop culture RITARU brings

Hokkaido, where Mikami was born and where RITARU is located, is well known for its coffee culture.

A Japanese kissaten coffee shop serves drinks like coffee and tea, as well as light snacks like cake and fruit. In short, it’s the same as a cafe.

Before there were coffee chains like Starbucks, Tully’s, and Doutor Coffee in Japan, cafes that had been developed by Japanese owners and known as kissatens became more and more popular with the permeation of Western culture during the post-war Showa period.

In fact, the famous Blue Bottle Coffee was an idea brought back to America by its founder (who happened to be a clarinet player) after he saw kissaten culture in Japan.

Mikami has loved kissaten ever since he was in high school and used to visit cafes throughout Sapporo.

It was because he loved coffee so much that he decided to take a job with Sapporo’s Miyataya Coffee.

He gained experience in everything from coffee distribution and sales to advertising on the job and opened RITARU independently in March 2010.

By the way, the name “RITARU” comes from the combination of the Japanese words for altruism “rita” and the Japanese word for “being content with what you already have” “taru.”

Mikami’s original intention was to open a coffee shop that is humble and content with its situation along its long path of the coffee business and having the principle of treating all customers with altruism.

“I tell my staff that when they’re not sure what to do, I want them to base their decision on altruism.”

Mikami

I do agree RITARU provides a  is a comfortable feeling coffee shop. And just as Maikami hoped for, his staff may be low-key, but they are always there to attend to customer needs.

The weekly flowers are a wonderful touch! I wouldn’t mind if they were the same flowers every week, but it’s always fun to see what the new arrangement is each time. Florist: Jaz Flower

One of the Destination spots of Hokkaido!

RITARU celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Image by COMMUNE

“It makes me feel like it’s all worth it when I can chat with the customers who have been coming in for a coffee or to buy coffee beans ever since we first opened.”

Mikami

Other cafes may be actively looking to expand into Tokyo, but for now, Mikami is happy sticking to Hokkaido.

One customer even came to visit RITARU on a day trip from the capital recently.

“It was amazing. As long as we keep providing value with our coffee, then hopefully we’ll see even more customers making such a long trip to see us.”

Mikami

Mikami said of the confidence and happiness such a visit gave him.

This author is also firmly of the belief that this coffee shop is a must-go if you ever drop by Sapporo. By all means try and pop in for a drink!

  • Cafe Name: RITARU COFFEE
  • Address: 26-3-8 Kita, Jonishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Opening Hours: 8:30–20:00
  • Closed: Irregular dates
  • Homepage: http://www.ritaru.com/ 

Follow their SNS for more information about RITARU COFFEE

Other Information:

Next time, we’ll be introducing you to the Unwind Hotel, which is a hotel that RITARU sells their coffee to.

RITARU COFEE and Unwind Hotel are planning a collaboration soon, so please look forward to more details!

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