7 Best Coffee Shops on Ishigaki Island

One of Japan’s far-flung subtropical islands, Ishigaki is a popular tourist destination for its crystal-clear waters, lush greenery and laidback culture. The surroundings are perfect for a specialty coffee culture to thrive. Stellar Ishigaki coffee shops have opened in the past couple of years, serving quality brews on par with Japan’s capital. Here are our seven favorites that we visited this spring.

1. Fushi Coffee Roasters — A Favorite for Baristas

The name means “stars” in the local dialect and Fushi Coffee Roasters is a star in the Ishigaki coffee scene, recommended by many of the coffee baristas on this very list. This is also where Japan roasting coffee champion Yoshiyuki Nakamura comes to practice sometimes. Fushi Coffee is run by a couple, Koichi and Sayaka Matsumoto. Koichi is the barista, while Sayaka makes fresh sweets and pastries and is also an illustrator. She’s behind the coffee shop’s iconic logo of a goat gazing at a coffee-bean-shaped star.

Fushi Coffee works with Typica to source the best coffee beans in the most sustainable way too. The in-house roasted coffee is stellar, tasting smooth in whatever roast or blend is on offer. The cold brew is mellow, while the espresso is dark and strong but not bitter. As for the pour-over coffee, it is comfortingly aromatic and served in blue-glazed Ishigaki-style cups.

The spacious yet minimalist shop interior has a variety of seating options, including a tatami space for kids, a counter and a big table where you can make new coffee-loving friends. You can also buy Fushi coffee beans, drip bags and coffee-making equipment.

2. Volts Coffee — Where Everyone Is Your Friend

Energizing you not only with coffee but also by engaging you in conversation, Gochi Satou from Volts Coffee is both a barista and a connector. Collaboration is the key to creating a community, so Volts Coffee orders its preferred medium roast coffee beans from the local Ishigaki Nuts Coffee Roaster and sells excellent banana cakes made by a local baker. Customers also love the chili hot dogs on the menu, made in-house. This hipster coffee shop sells merchandise, hosts arts and crafts workshops, has pop-up events and is an all-around welcoming place.

Of course, coffee is the main star on a creative and extensive menu also featuring fresh fruit juices, milkshakes and chocolate drinks. With organic wine on the menu as well, there’s really something for everyone. Satou concentrates on making every drink the best, crafting fragrant, refreshing pour-over coffee, cold brews, espressos and lattes. Try the mikan mandarin espresso for the best of both worlds. It also showcases the creativity of the barista and how he is on top of global coffee trends. Before you go, you can buy the original coffee beans and bottled organic fruit juices.

3. Klatch Coffee — King of Convenience

Derived from the phrase “coffee klatch” meaning “a meeting to chat while drinking coffee,” Klatch Coffee is a friendly space that offers great coffee, hot sandwiches and freshly made donuts. The vintage decor interior is filled with cool music and there’s free Wi-Fi, plus a couple of big tables. It’s perfect for digital nomads. You can also drink your coffee outside and people watch. Unlike other places, Klatch Coffee is open every day of the week, early in the morning, so it’s a surefire place to caffeinate. The same company also has a coworking space, a rent-a-car service and private accommodation, covering multiple customer needs.

While the food is made on site, the coffee beans are roasted on the small Kohama Island. The barista is proud of the collaboration between islands, a sustainable practice making sure local businesses thrive. The coffee is tasty and well-balanced, making satisfying lattes and cappuccinos. A local specialty (not containing coffee though) is the Gettou or shell ginger latte made with a fragrant Okinawan herb. The concoction is tangy, grassy and refreshing.

4. AS Tart & Coffee — Sweet and Minimalist

An injection of modernity in the retro shotengai shopping streets of Euglena Mall, AS Tart & Coffee is a calming, clean and minimalist space. As the name suggests, it does both coffee and sweets well, particularly tarts. Flavors vary but range from light fruity bites to decadent rich chocolate. There are also cookies, pound cake and various sweets on offer. AS Tart & Coffee represents Okinawa and Ishigaki coffee with kokuto (Okinawan brown sugar) coffee drinks and shell ginger tea on the menu. Whatever your drink of choice, the coffee element is excellent. The freshly ground coffee and the various coffee extraction equipment are not there just for show.

5. Waizu — A Calm Kisatten

Save for an indigo-dyed noren curtain and a tiny sign on the ground, Waizu (also spelled Waidu) looks like a private residence, but it’s a quiet, relaxing old-style coffee place. The coffee is prepared in the kitchen, where the lovely house master greets you. You can sit at the dining room table, any of the two tatami rooms or by the engawa overlooking the garden. The house dates back to the 1950s and has been renovated since, but it retains all the Japanese architectural elements such as sliding shoji doors and tatami floors. It’s a soothing space with classical music in the background and attention to detail, such as fresh flowers and traditional Ishigaki placemats with minsa patterns.

The master freshly grinds the beans and prepares a hand-dripped brew. He recommended his own blend of Ethiopian and Indonesian Mandheling, a blend he has named the Tokugawa Shogun. The dark brew comes in a pot that contains two cups and a little snack that is in the house. The cups and saucers are produced by a local ceramicist who lives nearby, adding to the warm and unique feel of the place. From the atmosphere to the generous serving of coffee, there are many reasons to savor your time here.

6. Re:Hellow Beach — Coffee and Chill at the Beach

A great place to hang out in a beach house, Re:Hellow Beach has everything you need all day long. Open from 8am to 9pm, this place has free Wi-Fi and ample seating space (two floors and two terraces), so it welcomes digital nomads. Aside from healthy meals made with island vegetables and decadent waffles, there’s great coffee provided by Nuts Coffee Roasters. Nuts Coffee has a smaller spot in central Ishigaki too, but at Re:Hellow Beach, just a few minutes away from Ishigaki Port, you can have the same coffee in a bigger and cozier place. The menu is extensive, offering everything from reliable lattes to experimental drinks such as espresso, raspberry soda.

7. Five Four Ever — Ishigaki Coffee Meets Traditional Crafts

Part of the Minsa Kogei Museum for traditional weaving, Cafe Five Four Ever, opened in March this year, is a great stop on a cultural sightseeing and shopping mission. The name pays tribute to Yaeyama Islands’ signature geometric minsa (also written minsah) pattern. It has alternating four-square and five-square shapes, which mean eternity and is also associated with marriage. The pattern is found inside the café too, alongside blue velvet chairs, wooden lattice and tropical plants. It’s all housed under the roof of a traditional Okinawan building, perfect for the culture-hunting traveler.

The coffee menu highlights kokuto sugar lattes made with Ishigaki milk, among other drinks. The waffles are pretty popular too.