As a business based in Otaru, Hokkaido, we have been looking out for the best coffee shops in Hokkaido.
The capital city of Hokkaido boasts numerous coffee shops in the city center.
And this time we were lucky enough to sit with the owner of RITARU, Etsushi Mikami, to hear all about what makes this coffee shop one of the best coffee shops in town.
Let's first talk about the coffee.
Out of the 20 different 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.
The special thing about RITARU is the dark roasted flavors of the coffee.
It has this extremely heavy roasted flavor but doesn't taste burnt, which is probably what Mikami worked hard on to bring out into the coffee.
The RITARU Blend and the slice of RITARU Roll is a set I like to have whenever I make a visit.
One of the best things about this pair is 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.
We also recommend trying out RITARU's morning service which runs from 8:30–11:00 AM.
RITARU offers a varied lunch menu that includes pasta (tomato or cream sauce), hamburgers, hot dogs, toast, teriyaki chicken sandwiches, cheese toasties, and salads.
Out of all the coffee shops in Sapporo, the main reason why we want you to visit RITARU is that it best gives love 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.
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.
These coffee shops were known as kissatens and 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 after graduating.
He gained experience in everything from coffee distribution and sales to advertising on the job and opened RITARU independently in March 2010.
RITARU celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
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, 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.
I also firmly agree that RITARU is a must-go if you ever drop by Sapporo. By all means try and pop in for a drink!
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