Review: Having coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama

coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
Seems to be a thing to wear kimonos and drink coffee from % Arabica.

According to some food blogs, the coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama is one of the best cafes in Japan. It is known for using the famous Slayer espresso machines, which is said to be one of the best in  the world. With this in mind, we decided to have coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama after our kaiseki lunch at Gion Suetomo. % Arabica was teeming with people. But compared to the line at the branch at Arashiyama, the queue was relatively shorter. If you’re keen to try the coffee from % Arabica, I’ll encourage you to visit the branch at Higashiyama isntead.

coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
The custom-made Slayer espresso machine


Kenneth Shoji is the founder and owner of % Arabica. He bought a coffee farm in Hawaii and also started trading green coffee beans from around the world. Later, % Arabica became the sole-exporter of a Japanese roasting machine and the distributor of one of the best espresso machines. Kenneth also persuaded Junichi Yamaguchi, a world champion of latte art to be head barista and he agreed. When he agreed, % Arabica opened in Kyoto in February 2014.

coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
The line at Higashiyama – it is not long as compared to the queue at Arashiyama.

The Ambience

coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
The place is teeming with people. Most people takeaway the drinks. 

There were just too many people in the cafe at Higashiyama. We observed a strange phenomenon – that about 40% of the customers were not buying coffee, but the lemonade. Which was a really strange given % Arabica’s reputation for good coffee. In the cafe, there’s also a booth where you can buy coffee beans, roasted to the level of your preference.

coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
Various types of coffee beans.
Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama bean price
Coffee bean price list.
coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
Waiting in line
coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
So crowded inside.

The Coffee

coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama
The ‘Instagram’ shot of coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama.

S had the cortado, which was very good. It was of good acidity and was balanced. I had the Americano but it was way too watery. Seems like they added too much water to the espresso shot. The Americano was quite disappointing for me.

The Travelling Squid’s Take

Would I be back again? After that watery Americano, I’m quite reluctant to do so. I suppose after all the hype, my expectations of % Arabica had increased. I thought % Arabica had done well in terms of branding and marketing. If I ever go back, I’ll probably try the latte to see if it lives up to its name.


Coffee at % Arabica in Kyoto Higashiyama

  • Address: 87-5 Hoshino-cho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto
  • Tel: 075-746-3669
  • Website:
  • Opening hours: 8am – 6pm

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