Wolfbrau Brewery – Shuri

Wolfbrau – brewery and coffeehouse

A partially consumed beer at Wolfbrau

The microbrew scene on Okinawa has expanded drastically in the past 4 years. Ukishima Brewing, Coral, Taste of Okinawa (Not a microbrew itself, but they support lots of local microbreweries) the list goes on. The most recent as of the summer of 2019 is Wolfbrau, as you can probably guess from the name it’s German style beer, run by a German gentleman who retired to Okinawa. Their shop does double duty as a coffee and beer brewery!

The beers are all made in house, and are what you might expect to find in Munich. Schwartz, Dunkle, Alt Ale, Weizen, and more. Everything tastes clean and refreshing. Almost all are reasonable ABVs of around 5%. We’ve tried four of their varieties and yet to get a bad one! The owner is very friendly and if he has time will chat with you about his beer and upcoming creations.

I’ll admit we’ve never actually ordered a coffee, but we have had the Coffee Craft beer which is beer that has been soaking in coffee grounds overnight. It had an amazing coffee flavor which made us want to order a latte! The coffee roaster is in the shop and along with the Coffee Craft beer we have seen other customers order a cup and it smells divine.

For food they have a small menu of German inspired fair. We had the cheese tray and the sausages. Both were delicious. The cheeses are made by Cheese Guy John Davis (a famous Okinawa Cheese maker)

Getting There: The brewery is located in the greater Shuri Castle area, if you take the monorail exit the Shuri station. The Gibo station is slightly closer looking on the map; however, there is a steep climb uphill.

Contact Details:

Wolfbrau Facebook Page

Google Maps link

Coffee: Saving some ¥en (and the Earth, too) in Okinawa

It has been awhile since I have made any updates (I keep meaning to) and I have visited dozens of new cafes and tried new local foods. But I will save those for a little later. Recently it was brought to my attention that some people were unaware of some little yen-saving (and eco-conscious) tricks for coffee lovers here in Okinawa. Hopefully you have read about “eco-bag” or “my bag” that I wrote about earlier in the Food Shopping in Japan. Now to talk takeout coffee.

Some people already know that Starbucks will give you a small discount (20yen? 30yen?) for using your own  tumbler. But did you know places like Lawson and Tully’s do, too?

At Lawson, bring your own tumbler and they give you a 10yen discount… they should automatically ring it up, it has it’s own barcode. So while 10yen might not be that much, it does add up. Plus you are reducing single-use plastics and cups. Unfortunately, their competitor FamilyMart does not offer a discount however you can still use your own tumbler! 7-11 is arriving soon to Okinawa, and hopefully they will start offering a discount (as of right now I do not think they offer any discount on the mainland).

Tully’s offers a 30yen discount when you bring in your own tumbler for takeout coffee. There are a few Tully’s locations in Okinawa, mostly in the Naha area.

Segafredo is a coffee chain, however there is only 1 in Okinawa; it is located in Yomitan  area. They offer a 20yen discount for bringing your own tumbler.

And lastly Cafe de Crie (another chain, only 1 in Okinawa so far located in Naha) offers a 20yen discount for using your own tumbler.

So, there you have it! Save money and the environment, too. Let’s try to keep Okinawa’s beaches clean and beautiful, free of single-use plastics and other debris.

If you visit the mainland of Japan, there are many more places that offer discounts for “my tumbler” use, so be sure to check for them.

By the way, the stainless steel tumbler in my photo is from MUJI 無印良品 and comes in 2 sizes, 300mL and 450mL (I have 450 mL) for a fairly reasonable price (range of 1500yen).

マイタンブラー  mai tanburaa  “my tumbler”  (alternatively 自分のタンブラー jibun no tanburaa, also meaning “my tumbler” but the English-borrowed version is just as acceptable, if not moreso!)

マイボトル mai botoru   “my bottle”

マイマッグ mai maggu  “my mug”  (see a pattern?)

Normally I keep it as simple as possible by saying “マイタンブラーOK?” Sure, this is not sophisticated speech, but why make things more difficult for yourself.

You can also use something like:

このタンブラー使えますか? kono tanburaa tsukaemasu ka?  Could you use this tumbler?

このタンブラーにお願いします  kono tanburaa ni onegaishimasu.  Please put it in this tumbler.

Coffee Stand Hibari-ya: 珈琲屋台ひばり屋

An oasis in the middle of Naha’s concrete jungle: Hibari-ya coffee stand.

I wandered through the back alley, promising my husband a cup of coffee was waiting for him. Sure enough, we came upon what looked like someone’s backyard garden. We went up to the nice lady owner in the booth and ordered 2 iced cafe au laits; it is a pretty simple menu, no fancy drinks here (which I don’t mind).

We sat in the shade under the awnings, sipping our coffee and enjoying some peace before heading back into the crowded noisy streets around Kokusai-dori. It was the perfect stop while shopping in Naha.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/2Fbcf4nQN8F2

Coffee Specialist Nietzsche: 珈琲専科にーちぇ

珈琲 koohii: coffee

Another day, another coffee. This time I ventured to another retro kissaten (coffeeshop) in Naha, called Nietzsche.

There is free parking in 2 spots: behind the shop (2 spaces), and in the park across the way (16 spaces). It is very cute and inviting on the outside, very spacious inside with 2 floors. Inside is also a treasure trove of retro coffee gadgetry. The atmosphere is really quite amazing. As a word of warning, it is an adult oasis, and young children are not encouraged to enter as a way to keep that peace.

The menu is mostly coffee, and a few dessert options. I got the retro toast set and an ice coffee; it was quite wonderful. If you are looking for an amazing retro kissaten experience in Naha, this is definitely it.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/KLmsxM3RT6r

Camino de Arab: カミーノ・デ・アラブ

Again, my coffee and cute cafe addiction cannot be curbed. This charming cafe is located in Urasoe, and there are some parking spaces in front of the shop.

I went here after seeing some pictures on social media– and wow, this was indeed a good place to try out. Inside is bright and cheerful with a sort of middle-east inspired vibe, and the decor beautiful. Outside there is a hammock and some additional seating. The owner is a friendly world traveller as well. Also there is free wifi (yay!) so you can stick around and do work for awhile.

The menu had a few things on it; I went with the cheese sandwich set (soup, salad, and drink) and a cafe latte. Everything was delicious and fairly reasonable price. Definitely a fantastic stop for lunch or an afternoon coffee/snack! I brought my laptop and got some work done in this relaxing environment while enjoying my lunch coffee.


address: https://goo.gl/maps/5zSTmy53vyn

Retro Kissaten in Okinawa: 沖縄のレトロな喫茶店

喫茶店 kissaten: traditional Japanese tearoom/coffeeshop serving drinks, sweets and light meals; often they have a nostalgic vibe as most of the shops look as if they’re stuck in time.

I have a thing for the retro kissaten. Something about them just feels peaceful once you step through the front door. Sure, there are tons of trendy, cute, modern, hipster cafes with high-end coffees and stylish desserts sprouting up everywhere but for the quintessential Japanese coffee shop experience an old-style kissaten is where it is at.

Today took me to CoffeeShop Laramie コーヒーシャープララミー. There is no parking at the shop, so you need to go to the paid parking lots (there is one around the corner for 100y/30 min). This place is only open Fridays and Saturdays, from 1-5pm.

As I walked up, the outside says “Coffee & Pancakes” plainly on the outside. A step through the door, and you are in a difference time and place. There are 2 working jukeboxes, some table seating, and counter seating. A quick warning, the seating is a little low to the ground; if I had brought my husband (194 cm) he would have had a hard time fitting. The menu is pretty simple, pancakes, desserts, and drinks. I think they may occasionally have some light meal on the menu but there was not today.

I ordered the pancake and coffee set for 850yen, with the Laramie blend coffee (might as well try out the house coffee). While I was waiting for my food, an older gent came in got a coffee, played some songs on the jukebox, and read the newspaper. It added to the retro atmosphere. There are vaguely some “Hawaiian”-themed items up, which made me chuckle a bit and the shop is entirely wood-paneled.

I noticed when I went to pay that even the cash register is retro! I admit, I thought that was a nice touch. Anyway, the shop staff was kind, the food and coffee was really good, plus an awesome retro atmosphere. If you are looking for a retro kissaten in Okinawa, I would definitely recommend trying out this little place in Naha.


address: https://goo.gl/maps/QDuWEYZtdF92

looking for more retro kissaten in Okinawa? More posts coming soon, but also check out Genten 原点: Coffee Specialist in Okinawa.

Cafe Mondoor

Yes… ANOTHER coffee find from the magazine (Coffee & Donuts in Okinawa City, More Coffee in Okinawa). Cafe Mondoor is located in Itoman, in the southern area of Okinawa. It was not the easiest to find, located off some back street. And parking is not obvious… I parked in a location with a sign (in Japanese) that said for people visiting the surrounding neighborhood establishments, so don’t panic when you get here, there is parking next to the alleyway that leads to the cafe. Maybe when they finish the construction in the area, it will be a little less of an adventure to find.

Cafe Mondoor is located on the second floor; inside is a little trendy, but in a good way, with lots of wood accenting. The atmosphere was pretty relaxing and comfortable. I ordered the Einspanner coffee (Viennese Coffee which is espresso and whipped cream) and tiramisu, both were really good. This was yet another excellent find– I have certainly gotten my 500yen worth out the magazine. I can recommend this lovely stop if you happen to find yourself visiting the Itoman fishing port area.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/bguBBzSg82v

Genten 原点: Coffee Specialist in Okinawa

原点 genten: origin

珈琲 koohii: coffee

The other day I came across an amazing find: a quiet coffeeshop nestled into a small neighborhood of Okinawa city. Down a side road, and then into an unpaved sort of parking area it stood before me.

It’s name is “Genten.” From the outside, you may think it almost looks only like someone’s house (well perhaps it was at some point). There was another customer just leaving as I entered; I was greeted with a delightful atmosphere reminiscent of another era.

Recently, I have been “cafe hopping” カフェ巡り, and have seen so many super-hip, trendy, vintage-inspired, retro-modern coffeeshops, but those were all very modern and very hipster… places to see and be seen. This was different. I had the impression of a late Meiji-era kissaten (喫茶店, coffeeshop). And while it had a charming retro feel, it was clean and bright. I was seated, and he asked “iced or hot?” This is it for the menu, guys so simple! So I said “iced” and the gentleman started preparing his special roast (from beans he roasts himself)… some minutes later out came coffee and a slice of homemade cake.

Simple, yet delicious. And so relaxing. For only 500yen.

I think even if you don’t speak Japanese, the communication here is simple. It is a nice place to relax, chat, have some coffee, and perhaps forget the modern world.

I am amazed this type of place can stay open, so hidden away. Then again, if customers and tourists were constantly streaming in and crowding the tables, it might lose its charm. I highly recommend this stop in Okinawa. It may just spirit you away.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/Gtsbsn7GHwQ2

Three Little Pigs Cafe: 三匹の子豚

三匹の子豚 sanbiki no kobuta: 3 little pigs

I finally stopped for lunch at a cafe I have passed dozens of times, but never really noticed before. The building is aging a bit, and the sign was never very obvious; I vaguely knew there was something there, but never really sure if it was open or not.

The name in English is “The 3 Little Pigs,” like the fairytale. Inside was a little eclectic, with some piggy decor and other random things, but quaint and clean. There are 9 parking spaces outside the cafe, too, so plenty of parking available unlike some other places. After I arrived, several tables starting filling up fast. I was a little surprised, but apparently many local people know about this place!

Anyway, the menu is in Japanese and the staff probably only spoke Japanese, though there was a mix of kana and kanji on the menu, you can probably stumble through with minimal knowledge of Japanese. I ordered the cheese and egg sandwich (which also came with a mini yogurt)), as well as the cake/drink set. You can choose from 5 different cakes and between coffee, tea, or soft drinks. I chose the coffee cheesecake and hot blend coffee.

Service was fairly quick, and the food was really good! Plus it was a good price: 600yen for the sandwich set, and 750yen for the cake/drink set (the drink included 1 free refill). I was impressed overall. This is definitely a nice stop for a decent lunch in Ginowan.

Oh, and the bread made in shop is gluten-free! I don’t know that most menu items were actually gluten-free, but they sold small loaves of their bread at the counter~~ Also the main dishes use genmai 玄米 (brown rice) instead of white rice to be a little healthier!

address: https://goo.gl/maps/qyn9Z8uNmS92

Tasokare Coffee: たそかれ珈琲

Coffee adventures continue (also see Coffee & Donuts in Okinawa City, Yamada Coffee: 山田珈琲More Coffee in Okinawa).

This time I was headed to a small shop to pick up some tea ceremony supplies in Naha. Nearby was one of the coffee shops listed, so why not check it out as well.

This area is typical pay parking lots, but there is a few just around the corner from the shop. Tasokare Coffee is subtly located on the bottom floor of a building, and does not stand out much until you are right in front of it. I entered, and was greeted with an interesting site; this place definitely has a low-key hipster city vibe. Anyway, it was lunch time and packed… I got the last table. So I checked out the menu (only in Japanese, but simple Japanese so if you can read hiragana/katakana you will have no problems). I ordered a latte and a bean-paste tomato sandwich. I was eying the cheesecake, too, but decided I wouldn’t be hungry enough for that.

This place was humming with activity despite being rather small. It was sort of nice to be around the chatter and not the dull silence that other places offer. I would definitely recommend this place for a friends outing; your talking will not disturb anyone here.

My food and latte came rather quickly, and it was quite delicious as well as reasonably priced and filling. This was a nice choice for a quick and reasonable lunch.


address: https://goo.gl/maps/UPWra6sZ5oT2

More Coffee in Okinawa

I am still continuing through my Okinawa Porte magazine, so here are some more of the shops I have visited.

Kramp Coffee (Awase): Parking is down the street, 2 spaces in a lot marked for Kramp Coffee. Otherwise.. well, there is a MaxValue shopping strip across the street with tons of parking; so you should probably not abuse their parking lot, but I doubt they notice. Anyway, I ordered the “melted latte” and lemon cream crumble, both of which were delicious. It was kinda expensive though (1100yen total). You can order in or takeout.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/SxaK766ccRP2


Tamagusuku Coffee Roasters (Naha): This is in Naha, so you need to use a pay parking lot. The coffee is very good, the owner has several beans you can check out before ordering. I ordered a coffee and waffle, the price was decent and it tasted really good. The atmosphere was very chill.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/5pHnNUEc6zr


Mahou Coffee (Naha): not in the book, but I stopped by anyway. The atmosphere here was unique, though kinda strange. Very vintage hipster, but very quiet (house rules: no picture-taking, loud chatter, etc). A good place if you want silence and no conversation or music, otherwise you will want to do takeout or go elsewhere. I got the No.10 Cappuccino; it was a house recommendation with 3 shots of espresso. It was indeed a very nice cup of coffee.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/2ZHNcerzM5n


Previous coffee posts, some are from the magazine and some are others I have visited:

Yamada Coffee: 山田珈琲

Coffee & Donuts in Okinawa City

35 Coffee: Coffee that supports Coral Conservation

Miyazatoya Coffee: 宮里屋

Rainbow Coffee: レインボーコーヒー

Book Cafe: ブックカフェ


Yamada Coffee: 山田珈琲

Yes, another coffee post (read the previous post). But I cannot help but hit all the spots in the Porte magazine.

Today’s stop was Yamada Coffee in Ginowan, not far from the intersection of Rt 32 and Rt 330. I have actually passed this coffee roaster dozens of times, always meaning to check it out but just never getting to it. So I pulled up, but there are only 3 parking spots, so luckily there was just 1 left. The outside is a little plain, and the inside is sort of that industrial-hipster kind of vibe.

I sat down at one of the counter spots and checked the menu– fairly simple, all drip coffee was 500yen per cup (and you could get a refill for 150yen!). The main choices were by taste/roast: Winey, Velvety, Mellow, Bitter, and some other choices of the day that change. There are also some milk coffee drinks, parfaits, and cheesecake.

I ordered the Mellow, and of course, a piece of cheesecake. So I watch the artist making their creations, and after some time I am served. So good! The coffee was definitely a superior quality bean and a professional roast. And the cheesecake was delicious, more of an American style than the Japanese “rare” or baked cheesecakes you usually find. Overall I was very impressed. It may not be an everyday kind of place, but worth the occasional indulgence for sure.

They also do carryout, as well as sell their roasted beans~ definitely stop by here for an amazing cup of coffee. Next time I want to try one of their parfaits… they also looked amazing.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/7ygXUXyKgMU2

Coffee & Donuts in Okinawa City

コーヒー, or 珈琲: coffee

ドーナツ: donut(s)

Recently I decided to investigate some places listed in an Okinawa monthly magazine (Porte, sold at bookstores and convenience stores for 500yen). This month’s theme was coffee… and I love coffee.


BB Coffee (Awase): Very hip space, both indoor and outdoor (as well as plenty of free parking). Stanford-chan is the resident doggy, very adorable. I got a cafe latte and caramel donut; both were outstanding but pricey. In the morning from 7am until 11am you can actually get a free breakfast set (toast and salad) with ANY drink purchase… good deal. Since I was there for a donut, I actually skipped this offer which I am sure was strange to them. The outdoor space is dog-friendly. As an update, we returned and brought the dog along for breakfast, it was quite nice. My husband got one of the sandwiches and enjoyed it immensely.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/TixX1nLaioJ2


Theater Donuts シアタードーナツ (Koza): This is actually a movie theater and donut shack all in one! There is a separate theater space (ticket required, it seems they mainly show documentary type films), as well as a regular eat-in space overlooking Koza. I got the sunny lemon donut and cafe au lait. The coffee was nothing special, but the donut was really good. I love the decor here, it is very cool. Parking unfortunately are pay-to-park lots in Koza, otherwise the price was pretty reasonable.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/CRvyLppt1Rr


Miyazato Tofu Donut Shop 宮里豆腐ドーナツ店 (Takahara): This shop also sells tofu… I guess they got the idea to sell soy based donuts as well. There is no eat-in area here, and parking seems to be the side of the street. Anyway, there are a few different options to choose from; I chose the walnut brown sugar (くるみ黒糖) which while tasty was wayyyyy too sweet for me. You can also order fresh soy milk to accompany it (yum, definitely recommend this!).
address: https://goo.gl/maps/4G6SkTDDDpN2


Outside of Okinawa city area

Matayoshi Coffee farm 又吉: Actually this is located in Higashi, but was featured in the magazine. My husband and I drove up on a nice weekend to explore. The coffee is grown in Okinawa, and they sell Okinawa coffee as well as blends. It is pricey… the taste is fine, it isn’t like Kona coffee delicious. Anyway, they also sell baked goods from Bakery and Cafe Coo (located in Nakijin) which are really tasty. You can also walk around the farm area, and there are cabins/camping spaces for rent. Overall, it is a cute little day trip.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/iGAqmDmi5Yk




Miyazatoya Coffee: 宮里屋

Another hot day here in Okinawa. As I went out to run some errands, I remembered a coffeeshop in Naha I had wanted to try… so I decided to go ahead and check them out.

It shares a parking lot with a home store, so there are plenty of parking spaces. The shop itself also doubles as a flower shop, so when you walk inside it is actually a little magical feeling… like you entered a secret garden or something. There are plants everywhere, and it has a really nice atmosphere.

As much as I wanted to stay (there is a cafe on the bottom floor, as well as seating on the second floor), I needed to get it to go. You can also order a light lunch or cake set here. I got an iced hazelnut coffee, and while I actually tend to avoid this type of flavored-sugary-whipped coffee drinks (to be honest, I never go to Starbucks in Japan with all the fancy limited time specialty frappes), this was quite good and what I needed on a hot day. This was a rare treat indeed~~

They have their own originally roasted beans in store, and there are plenty of options to choose from, both iced and hot. I thought the prices a tad on the high side (keep in mind I also drink Lawson machi cafe coffee normally), but it is a sort of specialty shop so it is not unreasonably priced. I couldn’t tell you how the price compares to Starbucks, but I suspect it is a bit higher overall. However, being an independent shop that roasts their own beans, I think the price compares to other shops of this nature, at least in Japan. This is definitely a cute place, worth coming back to when I am in the Naha area.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/eRfQtdLDNuv

Rainbow Coffee: レインボーコーヒー

In Nakagusuku, close to the university, there is a cafe called Rainbow Coffee レインボーコーヒー. It is a nice and cozy place with free wifi. It is a great place to study and relax.

The drink menu focuses on coffee from around the world– you can get drip coffee, espresso drinks, and even tea. I also like the “cup cake”. No, not “cupcake”, but “cup cake”… which here means a pancake in a cup. With syrup and lots of cream. They are all pretty good, even if not good for you! Plus you can get a half-size with the lunch entrees, which are all reasonably priced for about 1000yen. They open for breakfast as well (9am). A nice spot to stop at when you are in the RyuDai 琉球大学 area.

address: https://goo.gl/maps/x9UqXHW8pyB2

35 Coffee: Coffee that supports Coral Conservation

35 can be pronounced “san” (3) + “go” (5). サンゴ sango is also the word for “coral.” So 35 coffee is actually pronounced sango coffee (not thirty-five coffee); it is a brand of coffee in Okinawa that supports coral research and conservation, making it a very eco-friendly coffee! It is a decent brewed cup of coffee, at any rate.

You can get brewed cups from the 35 coffee stands (one is in front of DonQ on Kokusai-dori and some others are located in the monorail stations, and another in the Naha LCC airport terminal, and probably more, these are ones I can remember) or purchase beans from many stores (including DonQ, Aeon, and even the airport souvenir stands).

The coffee itself is made using coral fossils during the roasting. Obviously coffee beans  are imported since Okinawa is not a coffee producer.

The roasting method using the coral fossils is similar to a stone roasting method. The green coffee beans are roasted with coral fossils at 200 ℃ or higher for a long time to create a mild coffee.

It is normally banned to harvest corals according to the Okinawa Prefecture Fisheries Regulations, applicable to even the fossils of corals, which means only companies that have permission from the prefecture can collect them. The 35 Coffee company acquired a permit from Okinawa Prefecture to use weathered corals for the roasting process and to purchase them from authorized companies.

A portion of the profits received from the sales of the coffee go to the “Coral Reproduction Project.” So I think it is good to support the corals in the Okinawa ocean and try some 35 (sango) coffee when you get the chance. Corals globally are effected by increasing ocean temperatures and human industrialization, and numbers have been dwindling for several years now.  Thriving coral reefs play an important role in the balance of ocean eco-systems, and can even provide some protecting and mitigating effects on storm waves and tsunami to help protect human populations that live along coastlines.


address of Kokusai-dori coffee stand: https://goo.gl/maps/mDUCvT4RK8q

Cafe Gacchina: ガッチーナ

This small coffee cafe is hidden off Rt 34 in Ginowan. It is clean, modern, and relaxing. This was the perfect choice for a rainy day. 

There are a ton of coffee options, hot sandwich sets, and a few other miscellaneous. There is also free (and fast!) WiFi. The food coffee are really good and not too expensive, especially compared to some other places here. I had the egg-mayo, although you can choose 2 different types if you wish… but I am boring. It came with kabocha soup andfresh  green salad. I also got a cafe latte, and for dessert the Okinawan brown sugar pound cake. The baked good rotate constantly, and everything homemade. 

There is also a study room off to the side, available for anyone’s use. The owner speaks some English and the menu is in both Japanese and English. 

address: 〒901-2225 沖縄県宜野湾市大謝名3丁目6−10

Lawson Conbini: MACHI cafe

In Okinawa, as summer approaches, the mornings are getting much warmer and the desire for an iced cafe latte grows stronger. Starbucks is too expensive, so where is the best deal for an iced coffee drink? Lawson conbini!

コンビニ conbini (or konbini) means convenience store. Lawson is a major chain of conbini  throughout Japan. Conbini in Japan are amazing, and nothing like what you see stateside! But I will not get into all those details now. Right now, I will focus on Lawson’s machi cafe line.

Inside every Lawson, you can order several types of coffee drinks from the counter. My favorite during summer, of course, is an iced cafe latte アイスカフェラテ. I have tried iced cafe lattes all around the island, but I have found that the best priced (and consistently good tasting) one is at Lawson conbini, for a mere 150円. Comparing this to Starbucks which is usually more than 300円, I would say this is much more reasonable. FamilyMart, another large country-wide conbini chain, has iced cafe lattes for 180円, a little bit more than Lawson (but, also pretty darn good). In Okinawa, there is the occasional Tully’s (but they are not very common) and a scant few other chains with only one location about (Saint Marc ChocoCro, Doutor, Key Coffee), but they are so few and far between that I am rarely anywhere near them.  There is the Climax Coffee chain, located on the other side of the island from me, similar to a Starbucks (similar price, too). There are several small independent shops which also have cafe lattes, but they tend to be fairly expensive, so while very good quality… simply not an everyday drink.

So when it comes down to affordability, taste and convenience for an iced cafe latte, Lawson wins.

Plus for you those of you who desire less caffeine… they just released a 97% caffeine cut series (basically, decaf) as of May 2017! This is great news for my husband, who can now enjoy an iced latte in the afternoon without worrying about caffeine.

Japanese coffee vocabulary: the best part is that it is almost always katakana!

コーヒー   ko-hi   coffee
珈琲   ko-hi-   coffee (the kanji is based on the sounds not the meaning)

ブレンド   burendo   blend
アイス   aisu   iced
フローズン   furo-zun   frozen 
ホット   hotto   hot

カフェラテ   kafe rate   cafe latte
カフェモカ   kafe moka   cafe mocha
抹茶ラテ   maccha rate   matcha (green tea) latte
ロイヤルミルクティー roiyaru miruku ti-   royal milk tea
ココア   kokoa   cocoa
アールグレイティー   a-rugurei ti- Earl Grey tea

砂糖 satou sugar
砂糖なし** satou nashi: without sugar 
クリーム kuri-mu cream 
シロップ shiroppu sugar in syrup (liquid) form

**なし nashi means "without"-- a very useful word!!

Okay, now this part may seem a little silly, but how do you order a machi cafe at Lawson if you don’t really know any Japanese? Let me help; just keep in mind there are often variations in speech patterns, so depending on your clerk, they may use different phrasing, as well as formal or casual speech.

First, before you approach the register, decide what you want from the menu (okay, maybe that is obvious). I get a latte, so let’s practice using that as an example.

ホットカフェラテ、おねがい(します)。hotto kafe rate, onegai (shimasu).

Hot cafe latte, please.

If I want it iced, I used アイス “aisu” instead of ホット “hotto.” Yes, seriously, we use Japanese English in this case.

The clerk will than ask what size if what you are ordering comes in 2 sizes. Sometimes I say the size when I order, but often times they will ask it again to confirm anyway. The shortest and most casual way they say this is as follows. Sometimes they will say it formally, but just listen for keywords.

サイズは?  saizu wa?   What size?

In which you reply:

Lサイズです。  eru saizu desu.     L size.


Mサイズです。  emu saizu desu.     M size.

At this point, they are probably ringing up your total. At some locations, the coffee pickup counter is to the side, so they will say something like:

となりのカウンターお待ちください tonari no kauntaa omachi kudasai.   Please wait at the next counter.

Keep in mind there are many variations on this. The key word here is “machi” 待ち or “matte” 待って, meaning “waiting” or “to wait.”  The other keyword is “kauntaa” which is “counter.”

Some places will ask how many sugars you will want either while they are ringing you up or while you are waiting for the machine to make you coffee. Listen for:

砂糖はいくつ(入れますか)? satou ha ikutsu (iremasuka)?   How many sugars (do you put in)?

Keyword here is “satou” which is “sugar.”

Your response:

なしで。 nashi de.   None.

一個。 ikko.  One.

二個。niko.   Two.

三個。sanko.   Three.

Sometimes they do not ask about sugar and it is self-serve. In this case this will point to the little bin with sugars and stirrers and the like as they hand you your coffee (it will be obvious). They will instead say something like:

砂糖、どうぞ。 satou, douzo.    Please help yourself to sugar.

When they hand you your coffee they often (but not always) say:

お待たせいたしました。omataseitashimashita.   Thank you for waiting.

At this point when you receive your coffee you can respond with a casual “doumo,” or if you feel like “arigatou” or “doumo arigatou,” etc.

Again, keep in mind there are so many variations, and in order to not confuse you, I just put down some basics and keywords to listen for so your transaction can go smoothly! These are the “bite-sized” phrases to simply get you through the process. I like to remind people that in Okinawa, speaking informally is a bit more the norm; besides this, many people appreciate your effort in speaking even just a little Japanese as a foreigner, so worrying about formal/casual language is not nearly so important as many people make it out to be.