Whenever I visit Japan, I make it a point to visit as many different coffee shops as possible. The Japanese take their coffee seriously, and like most other things in Japanese culture, coffee brewing has become a meticulously studied form of art. So every morning that I spend at a different coffee shop is a different experience for me. I learn a little about the coffee that is served, but I also take some time to chat with the coffee artisan behind the counter to find out why they chose to devote their lives to coffee. The conversations in my broken Japanese is always memorable. Like with my other Five To Try posts: this is by no means a Top 5 list of any kind, just a selection of five interesting spots that I think are worth checking out.
Koffee Mameya, SHIBUYA. Having a cup of coffee at Koffee Mameya is an experience. No doubt, the men behind the counter are highly trained and take the art of making coffee very, very seriously. The owner, Eiichi Kunitomo, was the former purveyor of Omotesando Koffee…which closed in 2015. Koffee Mameya is located at the original Omotesando Koffee location. If you plan to go, keep your eyes peeled for the tiny black box that houses this unique coffee shop. Stepping inside Koffee Mameya will leave you feeling like you’ve entered a kind of holy shrine devoted to coffee.
4 Chome-15-3 Jingumae
Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Sarutahiko Coffee, EBISU. Located just a short walk from Ebisu Station, since first visiting Sarutahiko Coffee in 2016, I’ve been recommending this small, but established coffee shop to all of my friends. They recently opened a larger shop just next to the Shake Shack (as a side note: their first-ever cookbook is a must read) in the Ebisu Atre West Wing, but for the true Sarutahiko experience, head over to the main store. It’s cramped in there, but that’s part of the charm.
Japan, 〒150-0013 Tokyo, 渋谷区Ebisu, 1 Chome−６−６
Streamer Coffee Company, SHIBUYA. The Streamer Coffee Company, located about a 10-minute walk from bustling Shibuya Station, is known worldwide for their intricate, award winning latte art. The shop is spacious and filled with…skateboard gear? Not to worry, the coffee steals the show.
Streamer Coffee Company
1-20-28, Shibuya,Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Cafe Reissue, HARAJUKU. If competition ready latte art is not really your thing, and instead you’re looking for coffee with whimsy, then head over to Cafe Reissue. Located on the second floor of a tiny building on a side street in the trendy neighborhood of Harajuku, Cafe Reissue is known for their artistic barista, who can draw your likeness on top of your latte…all that’s needed is some milk, foam, and a nice smile. Oh yeah, he does cute animals, too!
3 Chome-25-7 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Blue Bottle Coffee, SHINJUKU. This is the only cafe on this list that has roots in America. The Blue Bottle Coffee Company from lovely Oakland, California, expanded to Japan and opened its first shop near Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. As with all other Blue Bottle locations, there is no Wi-Fi or outlets to encourage talking amongst customers.
Blue Bottle Coffee
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022
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