The real thing

“I first boil the water, then let it cool slightly to between 87 and 92 degrees celsius. That’s the trick.” He then carefully drips some of the water onto the coffee grounds in the filter, steaming them. The second pour is done from higher up, circling as drawing circles in the air. The third pour is done a bit more roughly. Matsuki-san explained in detail how we brews coffee to a customer seated at the counter.



Located near Beppu Park, Green Spot is a coffee shop on the first floor of an apartment building in a residential area. People who know a thing or two about high quality coffee are likely to be familiar with this place. Inside the shop are stacks of bags full of roasted coffee beans gathered from all over the world.



Fragrant Brazilian coffee, butter coffee with a generous pad of butter melted right in, cappuccino with rich cream — I watched carefully as Matsuki-san prepared coffee for another customer. Suddenly he placed two coffee beans in my hand and said, “Try it. Eat them.” I was a bit surprised, but I put as I put the two glistening beans in my mouth I was pleasantly surprised by the fragrant crunchiness. “When you brew this coffee the oil disappears. That’s the sign of fresh coffee beans,” he said.




Before long the drink I ordered was ready — an iced coffee entitled “Amber Queen”. The origin of the name apparently comes from 16th century Holland, when the drink was created for a queen. I learned that to make the drink takes 8 hours of preparation and 48 hours to extract the coffee with a cold brew method. The cream that floated beautifully on the surface of the coffee was thick and rich. The two components blended together with ease as I tilted the glass to take a drink. The taste can only be described as utterly refined.



Before opening this coffee shop Matsuki-san was a student of science and engineering who later went on to work in research and development at a bicycle company. Perhaps that’s why numbers and percentages often come up in conversation with him. It’s almost like talking with a science professor. “All I’m doing here is trying to convey the basic form of coffee,” he said. With the heart of a researcher, Matsuki-san has spent years perfecting his technique. When you taste his coffee this is abundantly apparent.




For the first five years after opening this coffee shop, Matsuki-san purposely refrained from using a coffee roaster. Instead he spent those years roasting his beans by hand. “I used a stainless steel skimmer, and I’d roast coffee until late at night. Even in winter I’d work in short sleeves.” I asked him why he went to so much trouble, to which he replied, “I wanted to know how the flavor was affected by the number of minutes and how dark you roast the coffee — to see with my own eyes. That’s my personality I guess.”  



“Back when a regular cup of coffee was 250 yen, I started offering ‘Amber Queen’ for 700 yen — a shocking price at that time. But I wanted to make and serve the real thing,” said Matsuki-san with earnest sincerity.

Every night the wonderful smell of Matsuki-san roasting coffee beans travel outside to the doorsteps of his neighbors. Workers at a nearby newspaper office said “There’s always a wonderful smell when you walk by.” Gradually the reputation of Green Spot began to spread.



Matsuki-san refers to his own coffee shop as “a tiny little dot among the greenery of the park area.” Matsuki-san recently retired and handed the keys to his coffee shop to a married couple who were formerly regular customers of Green Spot. Now it’s time for the next generation to carry on the legacy of this little dot in a sea of green.

Green Spot

address15-10 Nishinoguchi, Beppu-shi
closed onTuesdays
parkingNine spaces
recommended forAmber Queen 760 yen