Japanese love nothing more than perfecting something and it’s only taken them a few years to master roasting, brewing, latte art combined with typical world class Japanese service.
Just about all cafes serve espresso coffee, and most of the time you can find your milk coffees like flat whites and cappuccinos. Just as popular is pour over and batch brews which should keep North America happy.
As with all cafes in Tokyo, seating is minimal and spaces are tight and intimate. This means, usually, only those who are paying guests are allowed to occupy a seat, which is entirely fair.
Also in keeping with the rest of Tokyo are the opening times which vary and are usually later than expected so always check online first.
Serving up quality coffee for a few years now, About Life is one of the original artisan cafes in Tokyo producing some of the best coffee you’re likely to taste. Rotating their bean selection means they keep things fresh. Minimal seating outside means this is essentially a take away hole in the wall—welcome to Tokyo.
Glitch is another one of those cafes which not only serves top notch coffee with great service, it has a location which encourages you to spend time gazing out of the window. Like Counterpart, Glitch is on a crossing that is relatively quiet for Tokyo but is just busy enough for people watching. A few more seats inside and a bench outside helps in this regard as well as being surrounded by street side greenery.
Coffee Supreme is actually a New Zealand based brand but they have fully integrated into the Tokyo culture with their store sneaking into a skinny location near Yoyogi Park. With a handful of seats inside and a few chairs outside getting a spot is luck but most patrons seem to get takeaway. Great coffee and great service with the usual fitout quirks that typically make every cafe in Tokyo worth a visit.
Counterpart Coffee Gallery
Counterpart is situated in one of the best spots in Shinjuku. Sure it doesn’t have streams of people and crazy tourists fighting through a crossing ala Shibuya but it does have a nice outlook to the street below with sunlight pouring in. Two more levels upstairs provide quiet areas to enjoy your beverage providing there are no loud obnoxious tourists…
Little Nap Coffee Stand
Little Nap is the perfect spot to grab a takeaway coffee before heading to Yoyogi Park for some dog watching at the Yoyogi Park Dog Run. Another space which only a Japanese person could see as a viable business location. It’s incredibly small but with so much character! Inside there are turntables and records with other bits and pieces, a coffee machine, and bench and that’s about it. There is a bench outside to park your arse if need be.
Blue Bottle Roppongi
The fact Blue Bottle was born out of San Francisco with Google VC backing didn’t exactly fill me with hope of a good coffee, appearing as a hipster version of Starbucks. But it took just a single sip to realise they’re producing quality coffee, melting away my Sydney coffee snob prejudices. A great fitout with a much larger area to sit, relax and chill. Most patrons appear to be locals which gives it a great vibe.
Arrive early (well what Japanese call early) to the opening time of Fuglen to get a spot outside and enjoy some delicious coffee in a typical Tokyo side street. Surrounded by wooden bench seats Fuglen cafe is well known in the Tokyo cafe circle. The coffee is all quality. Located just off Inokashira Dori Ave, a busy main road with Yoyogi Park on the opposite side, you’d think the noise would be intrusive but it barely registers. Head back there for cocktails at night.
Also try: Fuglen Asakusa
© All images by Privateer Garage