Hirafu is known for serving up some great food in a wide variety of restaurants during winter but a lesser-known secret is the locals picks for a nice cup of coffee to warm you up and get a tired body up the mountain for a few more turns.
According to a study done in 2005, "nothing else comes close" to providing as many antioxidants as coffee. While fruits and vegetables also have tons of antioxidants, the human body seems to absorb the most from coffee. After a big day of skiing a few drinks to celebrate the gifts of the day is not uncommon in any ski town. Interestingly, coffee is also great to combat the stress on your liver that it might have suffered from the night before. A study published in 2006 that included 125,000 people over 22 years showed that "those who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop liver cirrhosis".
Most of us associate a cup of coffee as a counter to sleep deprivation and whilst that rings true that much-needed jolt not only keeps you awake, it makes you sharper. "TIME reporter, Michael Lemonick, says", "When you're sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning -- most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence."
So without further ado we went and asked our full-time staff situated at The Orchards office for their favourite stop for a coffee in the area.
Clara’s and Laurie’s votes went to Mountain Kiosk Coffee where Clara gets an “Americano” and Laurie enjoys a café latte. Located at the top of Hirafu it is the closest café to the Dot base and located right next to the Hirafu Welcome Centre. Also when Yotei Zan does reveal itself through the winter clouds, it’s a great spot to relax and take in the view. Clara also loves the banana muffins they offer.
Eddie’s coffee pick is an Americano at Hirafu mainstay, Green Farm Café. The combination of a great atmosphere, central location and friendly staff were what earned Green Farm the top nod from Eddie.
Luke likes to get his soy latte from Monty’s, located across the road from the food vans in the centre of Hirafu town. It is easy to pull into the carpark early in the morning on the way up the hill and it’s rarely crowded meaning you never have to wait long. They also do a nice little bacon and egg muffin.
Stu and Marika’s vote for a latte went to Rhythm. People may not be aware that inside the iconic rental and retail store there is a coffee stand. You will often find Ki Chan there with her little French bulldog Marlo and together they make a mean coffee. Rhythm is also Yukari’s choice for a café latte.
Patrick’s vote went to B.C.C White Rock. When going for a snowboard over at Hanazono or into Kutchan for groceries, he likes to stop in for a long black. He also recommends White Rock’s chocolate muffin if you’re feeling a bit peckish.
While the price of a coffee is something our staff all factored into their vote, up to this point all the coffees mentioned retail for roughly the same price at around ¥400-¥500. Enter Lawsons, a hallmark of modern day Japan- famed for its KFC style chicken, 24hr business hours and array of food and goods most westerners aren’t accustomed to finding in a convenience store. Ruth and Sara both gave their nod to Lawsons for their café latte which you can pick up for ¥180 each. The coffee is hot, affordable and is ready quickly and it actually tastes pretty good!
Time to add up the votes and the winner is Rhythm! Rhythm also sell "Keep Cups" encouraging their customers to be conscious of minimising waste in a country that loves to over package foodstuff.