Many coffee connoisseurs swear by the “neru” (felt filter) drip brewing method with its steady slow stream of newly boiled water drizzling over the soft mound of coffee grinds.
Others prefer the chemistry class approach of the siphon method with the single flame of an alcohol-fueled wick licking at the lower glass ball, heating the measured volume of fresh water until it suddenly boils and erupts upward into the top glass cylinder merging with the freshly ground coffee beans. The master will then extinguish the flame and stir the brew carefully, once or twice, until the newly created vacuum in the lower glass ball sucks the brewed coffee back earthward through the filter disk. A marvelous lesson in physics and aesthetics.
“Wiener Coffee” in the gaudy gilded cup is of my favorites. With each sip, the layer of cool, slightly stiffened cream floating on the surface, blends sensuously with the hot brew underneath.
Another winner is the “Cappuccino” in a tall narrow cup topped with foamed milk, a dusting of cinnamon, and a few slivers of orange zest. Each day a different straight bean coffee, such as Mandheling or Kilimajaro, is offered at a “sabisu” discount price of 320 yen.
Rouen is worth seeking out. It is only a few minutes walk from the East exit of JR Omori station. It is also only two-minute walk from Maru-ichi tonkatsu restaurant, one of Tokyo’s best. (More on this joint later.)
Coffee House Rouen. 1-36-2 Omori Kita. Ota-ku. Tel: 03.3761.6077. Open daily 7am to 9pm. Sundays 7:30am to 6pm. Holidays 7:30am to 8pm.