Seven Of Tokyo’s Top Coffeehouses
From its exceptionally efficient train system to a food scene with more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, it’s clear mastery of technique is a recurring theme in Tokyo. It’s no surprise then that the city’s coffee culture could give Sydney or Melbourne a run for its roast.
Tokyo’s pursuit of perfection has spilled into this culture, resulting in incredible coffeehouses, big and small, tucked-away and internationally recognised. A coffee enthusiast could spend weeks here and still stumble on new gems. However, if you don’t have weeks to spare, we’re here to help out. Here are seven of the best Tokyo coffeehouses.
Little Nap Coffee Stand, Tomigaya
Located just a short walk from Yoyogi-Hachiman station, in the increasingly trendy neighbourhood of Tomigaya, Little Nap Coffee Stand is the definition of unassuming coffee spot.
Open every day except Monday, the cosy and highly ornate interior includes only a handful of stools for those who want to stay and chat. Friendly staff have mastered the single-origin drip coffee and light, fluffy lattes, although their espresso-based drinks are wonderfully diverse and cover all tastes.
About Life Coffee Brewers, Shibuya
Distinguishing a business in the eternally busy area of Shibuya is hard enough, but About Life Coffee Brewers make it look easy. At any time of day you’ll spot locals hanging up their bikes by the hook on the side of a white-bricked building, out of which a tiny space is carved for this immensely popular coffee stand.
The variety on offer here, and the precision with which each coffee is made, keep locals and visitors coming back for more. It helps that the practical design has managed to squeeze in a full espresso bar as well as a hand-drip coffee station.
You can’t go wrong with any choice here, but you most certainly will want to try the beautifully balanced signature blend of beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Brazil.
Bringing a slice of Scandinavia to Tokyo, Fuglen is the first location outside of Oslo for the iconic coffee brand, which has been considered one of the best in the world since the 1960s. They have since opened another two Tokyo outposts, but the original Tomigaya coffeehouse remains the most popular.
With a love of vintage furniture and a by-night transformation into a buzzing cocktail lounge, Fuglen is a testament to the Norwegian way of lightly roasting beans so the flavour profile is all fruity and fresh.
Grab a signature AeroPress coffee and soak up the warm and welcoming atmosphere, with helpful staff who don’t even mind if you bring your own food. Although they do have a fantastic assortment of breads available.
Paul Bassett, Shinjuku
Australian born World Barista Championship winner Paul Bassett has put a lot into his namesake cafe, located amongst the glowing highrises of endlessly energetic Shinjuku.
As one of the larger venues on this list, Paul Bassett is often a proving ground for baristas who then go on to open their own independent coffeehouse. However, this gem is never forgotten amongst the more modern shops, maintaining a stalwart reputation in the scene thanks to consistency, technique and service. You’d be hard-pressed to find a coffeehouse as reliable as this one in Shinjuku.
Glitch Coffee, Jimbocho
Masters of the slow-style Kinto Pour Over, Glitch Coffee easily carves its own identity in Tokyo’s bustling coffee scene. Located in vintage-minded Jimbocho, known as the city’s book district, this coffeehouse is equally studious, with owner Kiyokazu Suzuki curating an outstanding selection of top-class single origin offerings.
The impeccable and light roasting favoured here stays true to provenance, resulting in coffees that are consistently clean and greatly varied, bringing out the best notes for whatever type of style you choose.
The Roastery by Nozy Coffee, Harajuku
Selling only single-origin coffee, Nozy Coffee’s hugely popular The Roastery, on Harajuku’s energetic Cat Street, is one of Tokyo’s most endearing coffeehouses. The wide-open space of dark woods, scattered seating and local hipsters should be enough to tell you how feverishly popular this spot is.
There’s an admirable commitment to simplicity behind the counter, with a menu of minimalism only offering either an espresso, americano or latte before leaving it up to you to decide which two single-origin coffee beans you’d like to experiment with.
The idea is to get you intimately familiar with the distinctive notes and characteristics of these beans. It’s this zealousness and faith in the fundamentals of coffee which will ensure you always get a perfect brew.
Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro
With a trusty Diedrich roaster on-site, the iconic Onibus Coffee in the European-esque neighbourhood of Nakameguro maintains complete control over their brews, with consistency at the very heart of everything they do.
As with all the best cafes in Tokyo, simplicity, precision and detail take precedence, as the highly trained staff offer up espressos, americanos or lattes brewed using either a La Marzocco Linea PB or Hario V60.
(Lead image: About Life Coffee Brewers / supplied)
Published 01 October, 2019