Author: Malin Norman
With a massive jetlag and most craft beer bars not opening until evening, a great way of exploring Tokyo during daytime is through coffee. You see, this metropolis is the coffee capital of Asia with numerous stylish cafés, hip roasters and celebrity baristas. Just set the compass and catch the specialty coffee movement called the third wave.
Whatever you fancy – latte, espresso, Americano, drip, aero press, siphon etc. – there are countless independent coffee shops in Tokyo; hidden away on quiet backstreets or parking lots, fused into clothes shops, or camouflaged as traditional Japanese homes. As with craft beer, you can embark on a treasure hunt in search of the best brews, although this time with coffee, and uncover the city.
A good place to start is the so called Coffee Town. Ikejiri-Ohashi is a lovely residential borough by the Meguro river, famous for the cherry blossoms in spring. The picturesque area is blessed with a high concentration of trendy coffee shops and expert baristas. Right next to the river is Sidewalk Stand, a friendly corner café where you can daydream about living in the city. As well as great coffee, it has the tastiest sandwiches and the cutest dogs. Not far away is The Workers Coffee & Bar, a modern community sharing venue with a restaurant, event space and offices. Another nice spot to watch the world go by. And close by is Streamer Coffee Company. Impressively, its owner has won the Free Pour Latte Art Championship, so why not savour a latte whilst here.
Also in Coffee Town is the tiniest coffee stand ever, Bubbles Chill Coffee, which serves traditional drip style from early morning for take-away. The yummy brew and smiley owner will help you wake up and face the day in the bustling city. The garage-style Good People & Good Coffee is another favourite, a hipster heaven tucked away on the side streets. The small and intimate shop also serves as a creative art hub. And not to forget Paradise Tokyo, a hip boutique with vinyl records and clothes from Japanese cult street fashion labels, has a coffee shop well worth a stop whilst browsing.
Not too far away is Onibus Coffee Roasters right next to Nakameguro Station and overlooking a small park, a much-loved destination for local and visiting caffeine addicts. The former traditional Japanese home nowadays houses a roaster and café plus a communal area on the second floor. Onibus’ second location is About Life Coffee Brewers, a stylish kiosk in the heart of Shibuya, which is said to be the most instagrammed coffee place in Tokyo.
But there is a huge number of other coffee hangouts. For instance, Fuglen Tokyo not far from Yoyogi Park. This hotspot is a Norwegian retro-style café, cocktail bar and vintage design boutique. Or take Bear Pond Espresso in Shimokitazawa, owned by celebrity barista Katsu Tanaka who calls his espresso angel stain – apparently, it is a gift from God! Even better though is Saturdays NYC, a clothes shop in Daikanyama. Inspired by surf shops of the 50s and 60s, as well as by the energy of modern Tokyo, it also has an espresso bar and a wooden terrace. Tasty coffee, nice atmosphere, tranquil patio with a view. What more could you wish for?
These are just a few of the coffee spots in town and there are many more to discover. But if you start café hopping, go easy on the caffeine!
Pictures: Malin Norman