Last week, we gave you a recipe for the tasty caffeinated treat called coffee jelly. This week, we’d like to introduce a coffee shop that is taking that quotidian treat to the next level of taste and presentation. Behold Coffee Suzuki, where the coffee jelly forms right before your very eyes!
Coffee Suzuki is a funny little coffee shop in Atsugi, Kanagawa. You’ll get an excellent espresso here, but don’t expect a typical sunny, hang-out-and-read kind of cafe. The menu might be all coffee and cake, but the ambiance is more like an underground jazz bar.
From the start, Coffee Suzuki is pretty intimidating. Check out the entrance. It’s all battered copper, with a heavy sliding door that you have to stoop to get through. Nothing about this place says cafe.
Inside, the lighting is almost non-existent. Two dark wood counters run down the side of the room for seating, with low track lights hovering above. A roasting machine takes up most of the front wall. Against the far wall, king of the coffee bean/shop owner Mr. Suzuki holds court next to a gorgeous antique copper Bezzera espresso machine topped with an eagle. You can’t make this stuff up.
▼ Drip coffee? I’ll claw your eyes out!
▼ Because nothing says coffee like a giant, man-eating python. Remember how I said this place was intimidating?
Adding to the late-night club feel is the not-easy-listening-variety jazz being played. The overall effect is a sharp-edged sophistication slightly at odds with the purpose of the place.
According to the simple menu, the specialty of the house is espresso jelly, so we give it a try. First, we are served a small glass of ice water in a delicate glass sake cup. It’s only about enough water for one sip, but in this hip place, we thrust out our pinky and try to sip with effortless cool.
Next up, a pretty china tea cup and saucer arrives, with a scoop of ice cream and some anko (sweet bean paste) on top. Huh? We ordered the espresso jelly, right? I didn’t even see affogato on the menu.
Not to worry, says the staff, pulling out a silver cocktail shaker and pouring chilled espresso over the top. She adds a small drop of rum to top it off and says the jelly will form as we eat, so dig in.
At first, nothing seems to be happening. It’s not melting, as an affogato would, but it still looks pretty liquid. After a moment, though, the spoon doesn’t move through the espresso without turning up some lumps. Jelly! And then in a flash, the whole thing has solidified.
A pretty neat trick! And a tasty one, as well. Compared with the usual coffee jelly, Suzuki’s version is much bitterer, but paired with the vanilla ice cream and super sweet anko, it’s heavenly. And gone far too soon.
Just this would have justified the 800 yen (about US$6.70) price tag, but the staff informs us that the espresso jelly comes with a small plate of sweets and a “palate cleansing” coffee.
We get a sliver of melt-in-your-mouth amazing cheesecake and a ginger cookie covered in powdered sugar, again served on real china, plus an espresso cup of regular coffee. It’s all delicious and actually does seem to clear the palate of some lingering bitterness.
Quaffing the last of the coffee, we make a move to go. This isn’t the kind of place that encourages you to linger, and with the double dose of caffeine and sugar, it’s increasingly harder to sit still anyway.
Such a spell does this place cast, that although I’m aware it’s Sunday afternoon, I am honestly surprised when I open the door and find it’s light outside.
Address: Nakacho 3-5-6, Atsugi-shi, Kanagawa
Phone: 046 295 6280
Hours: Wed – Mon, 2 pm – midnight