Japanese Cafe Melbourne cbd / Hikari

Light, bright minimalism for a Japanese cafe Melbourne CBD

It may be sandwiched on one of the busiest stretches of the Melbourne CBD, but stepping into the light-filled space of Hikari on Swanston Street is an instant reprieve from the hustle and bustle.

The name Hikari comes from the Japanese word for ‘light’, which is certainly apt considering the bright breezy feel of the interior. Inside the minimally elegant Japanese-inspired cafe, wooden shelves and benches provide a refuge from the noise. Half cafe, half retail space for Japanese coffee, glassware, and ceramics, the entire venue has an almost gallery-like feel, everything placed with a meaningful intention which adds to the calm atmosphere. 

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japanese cafe melbourne cbd hikari

Local architecture firm Ai Republic was tasked with the fit-out, transforming what used to be strictly a retail store within a heritage building into a light, bright, minimalist space – using Victorian ash timber, Japanese mosaic tiles, polished plasterboard, white textured paint and rattan to create a serene and warm atmosphere. 

Inspired by the cafes in Japan he visited while on business trips from China, Derek Yang joined co-owners Damien Xiao and Steven Yan in opening Hikari. The trio partnered with a handful of cafes in Japan to import a selection of their single-origin beans. “[They] source their beans from all over the world and roast them in their own way,” says Yang. “The Japanese tend to roast their beans with a very clean taste, so they are light and floral. We are … changing the beans from Japan every two to three weeks.”

japanese cafe melbourne cbd hikari

A gleaming La Marzocco coffee machine makes espresso with the house blend from Code Black, while the Japanese beans are used for filter and pour-over brews. There are also matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea) lattes; the powders are sourced from Japan, then hand-whisked into a perfect cup by the Hikari team. 

To go with their drink of choice, customers choose from a cabinet full of baked goods including  cakes, pastries and canelés from some of Melbourne’s finest bakeries.

Hikari also sells artisan Japanese homewares, which are artfully displayed on illuminated shelving that runs the length of the cafe. Pick up a cute ceramic teapot or some retro, nostalgic Kinto Cast Amber cups. There’s also glassware from Hirota Glass, one of Japan’s oldest glassmakers, and delicate ceramics from brands like 1616/Arita Japan and Yumiko Iihoshi.

For a taste of Kyoto, this Japanese cafe Melbourne CBD is the place to discover it’s essence in one of  Australia’s most cosmopolitan cities. 

Hikari Life, 317 Swanston St, Melbourne, Vic, Australia. Open Mon to Fri 8.30am–4pm, 
Sat and Sun 9am–5pm

japanese cafe melbourne cbd hikari
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