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Aggressively Slick Japanese Coffee Brand Confirms East London Opening

% Arabica, founded in Kyoto, also intends to open a coffee shop in Covent Garden

Arabica coffee shop in Kyoto, Japan, will open its first London cafe on Broadway Market in east London Arabica [Official Photo]

Updated 26.03.2019, 10:48a.m., with address.

Arabica (% Arabica), a lifestyle-oriented Japanese speciality coffee shop with cafés and franchises across the world, will open its first London café. High-profile sources in the London coffee industry have told Eater that the first will open at 33 Broadway Market, the popular, cobbled market between Hackney Road and London Fields. There is no timeline for the opening at present, with the vast majority of % Arabica’s international openings done by franchise. The brand has now confirmed its London debut on Instagram, adding that it intends to open in Covent Garden, near King Street:

In a couple of months, we will open our flagship store at Broadway Market in Hackney. For location hunting, we walked around the city for many days and fell in love with this lovely street with lots of real and down-to-earth stores. We are also working hard to close the deal for our second location at Covent Garden near the beautiful Aesop store.

The coffee brand, founded by Kenneth Shoji, currently boasts 30 locations across 11 countries, with three in Japan; there are 7 % Arabica coffee shops in both the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. The flagship store, which Shoji launched with 2014 World Latte Art champion Junichi Yamaguchi, is in Kyoto’s historic Higashiyama district, with its signature white and silver branding standing out against the cobbles. This striking contrast which may well serve the brand on Broadway Market, given the long-held popularity of resident coffee shop, Climpson and Sons.

There should be substance here to match the style: % Arabica uses custom-made Slayer espresso machines, manufactured in Seattle, and frequently partners with Ninety Plus Coffee, a grower and producer that regularly provides coffees for baristas competing in the World Barista Championship and World Brewers’ Cup — the latter focussed on filter coffee, rather than espresso. It’s also true, however, that Ninety Plus’ cornering of the ‘most special of speciality’ market make it harder for smaller-scale farms growing high quality coffees to compete with its model. Similarly, Slayer’s dedication to letting baristas ‘craft’ drinks, with highly and easily adjustable controls for the flow of water through coffee when making espresso, can compromise on speed and reliability at high volume, which is one reason — along with price — why they are infrequently seen in London’s coffee shops. Slick, powder-coated prestige doesn’t always mean performance.

% Arabica Kyoto will open its first London coffee shop, with these tote bags
A % Arabica tote bag
% Arabica [Official Photo]

Arabica’s striking merchandise, including water bottles, tote bags, backpacks, and even sneakers, marks it out as a coffee brand that is selling an approach to life, as much as a drink that so many Londoners drink every day; the question will be whether its coffee can fall into their daily habits, especially in a location not known for its weekday footfall. It will join Omotesando Koffee in Fitzrovia and Le Café Alain Ducasse in Coal Drops Yard as a café with the potential to offer a genuinely alternative experience to the dominant London speciality coffee scene. Let’s see.

Broadway Market

Broadway Market, , England E8 4QJ

Coal Drops Yard

Stable Street, , England N1C 4DQ 020 3883 2087 Visit Website


Borough Market, 3 Rochester Walk, London, Greater London SE1 9AF +44 20 3011 5151

Omotesando Koffee

8 Newman Street, , England W1T 1PB Visit Website