A quaint German-themed cafe serving specialty coffee.
Gunma isn’t the place where you’d hope to find specialty coffee. Usually, one would reserve that to the artsy places of Tokyo. But right outside of the otherwise ordinary station of Gokan is a tiny building that looks like it has been plucked from the traditional stylings of Idstein and planted in the midst of Gunma’s countryside.
The cafe’s name is “Doitsu Kōhī Yume” (German Coffee Yume) and its interior as whimsical as its facade. The tiny space for coffee and dining is adorned with vintage European decor that somewhat makes you feel like you are visiting your grandma. It was originally owned by a man who fancied European coffee and the Japanese word “yume”—meaning “dream”—as evidenced by the cafe’s name. In fact, he so loved the word that both his daughters’ names have the Chinese character for the word in them.
The man had passed away years ago, and the cafe is now run by one of his daughters, a chatty lady with a cheerful personality and bright eyes that sparkle as she laughed. You could tell she was proud of the cafe her father built, and that she took pleasure in running it.
A Magically Delicious Brew
As I sat, the owner carefully explained the available coffee that day. There were about six types, and I chose the one with liquor in it. It was the past noon and I had been traveling for four hours by train, both beans and booze were a welcome treat.
I was served with a tall glass of dark coffee with foam on top. It smelled heavenly and tasted like a dream. I took a sip and tasted the light, airy sweetness of the foam, a creamy delight that ends as soon as it begins, as the strong taste of coffee and liquor gushes forth like waves breaking on a rocky shore. I am no coffee connoisseur, but the drink was bliss.
It was a cool day and the drink warmed me up. The owner and I talked as I drank, and then it was time for me to board my bus. My tall glass of coffee cost JPY 1,500—more expensive than the usual cup, but for the experience, I think it was worth it.
Gunma is a prefecture full of quirky surprises and in my two-day stay, this was the first among a series. If you’re around Gokan Station, you definitely won’t miss this spot. Try going in for a delicious brew that warms the gut and a handful of stories that warm the heart.