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Espresso in Tokyo


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#1 Orik

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:16 AM

Oliver Strand recently offered a good peek into the emerging coffee scene in Tokyo (which, curiously enough, did not elicit hundreds of responses from Japanese chauvinists like the one about espresso in Paris):

http://tmagazine.blo...o-tokyo-coffee/

A couple of the places he mentions are there because they're on all kinds of lists, for example Daibou is on every list but I never managed to get a good cup of coffee there, just burnt oil slicks. Maybe I should try again.

We tried Streamer on a previous visit, and again this week. The espresso is very much in the style of some Counter Culture blends, but the drinks are very milky (the latte feels like a gallon of milk, the cappuccino is a latte, even the macchiato is too much for me) and there's something very right wing about the aesthetics (camouflage donuts, Kyokujitsu-ki motif t-shirts). Very good but not really my thing.


Omotesando Koffee is amazing - the entire operation is one guy standing inside a cubic metal frame placed in an old Japanese house. He makes very good espresso drinks from Ogawa beans and a kind of cubic cannele and that's it. I believe he initially intended this to be a temporary location as the house was supposed to be torn down next month, but he just got another year or two on his lease.


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Nozy Coffee, also very good - they roast their own beans and they offer a daily selection of single origin beans for espresso. Of the two we tried - one from Costa Rica and the other from somewhere I couldn't parse from the Japanese pronunciation, one was excellent, well rounded with slight hints of mocha, the other was too acidic and flat.


Madeleine - quirky even by Tokyo standards, an espresso bar operated from the back of a Citroen 2CV, where the owner crouches for 4 hours on most days and serves espresso from a manual machine. The weakest of the bunch but still fine.


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#2 yvonne johnson

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:33 AM

It does look cool, if nothing else.
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#3 prasantrin

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 01:37 PM

Have you been to Bear Pond? Wondering if it's worth making the trek out there.

#4 cstuart

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 05:19 PM

I enjoy the "espresso in x" threads. Thanks.

I think the car looks silly, but to each their own. Here's the version I visit (quite good) - http://reveillecoffee.com/HOME.html

#5 Orik

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 03:37 AM

Have you been to Bear Pond? Wondering if it's worth making the trek out there.


Went there last time. It's very good but almost too similar to what we get in nyc to be worth the trek. They have a second location in one format or another on the same street as Streamer in Shibuya.

http://r.tabelog.com...30301/13113702/
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#6 Orik

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 07:17 AM

I think the car looks silly, but to each their own. Here's the version I visit (quite good) - http://reveillecoffee.com/HOME.html


Amazingly enough, he's been doing it since 2005.

http://madeleine2.exblog.jp/
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#7 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 02:59 AM

I'm guessing it was the costa rican at Nozy that you thought was acidic and flat. I had my first as espresso and thought it unpleasant. A too-milky-for-a-macchiato macchiato was quite good with it. With today being a quasi holiday that was the only beans they had on.

The bakery next-door Signifie-Significant is quite good. Picked up a great looking ficelle. Its tablogs second favorite bakery in Tokyo fwiw. Our apartment is two blocks away. I'm quite pleased by that.
Why not mayo?

#8 Orik

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 02:58 AM

Sarutahiko Coffee in Ebisu - a newish shop using Nozy beans (a blend, judging by the flavor, with a hint of that overly acidic bean but a more complex profile). The second best so far following Omotesando Koffee.

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#9 Orik

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:33 AM

Sarutahiko still going strong, very impressive.

 

Fuglen, which doubles as a cocktail bar at night, also very good.

 

Omotesando Koffee a bit less impressive this time.

 

Paul Bassett @ the giant new mall by Shibuya makes terrific espresso but the atmosphere is poor.

 

February Cafe out in Taito - you need to get there, very convenient if you're in Asakusa and one of the more interesting blends I've had - manages to balance the currently fashionable fruity acidity with a hint of more traditional roasts.  

 

Downstairs Coffee at the Mercedes Benz showroom - variable but inoffensive coffee, good people watching.


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#10 balex

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 01:28 AM

Streamer coffee in Harajuku -- tiny little alcove near Pure Blue Japan in case you are buying some jeans.

Very good macchiato.



#11 changeup

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:09 PM

I thought Omotesando Koffee was spectacular.   This shakerato business should be a global revolution:

 

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The shot gets poured into a shaker with ice, then shaken.   Was asked if I wanted sugar/milk, no hint of airs.  That's the squared off canele like pudding they sell on the right.

 

I wasn't impressed with Sarutahiko - although it's the only place I had a latte.  It all seemed too packaged for my taste.

 

Now this was far more up my alley:

9025645431_b76c88d405.jpg

Cafe De L'ambre in Ginza.   Home of aged, and sometimes very aged, coffee.  "Coffee Only" is printed several places, including the door and menu. 

 

Here is the back of the menu, showing the pricey stuff:

 

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I tried a demi-tasse of the '82 Kivu.  Exciting stuff.  I think it was 870 yen.

 

Yanaka Coffee in Akihabara was quite nice, especially given that its in the artsy shopping gallery.  They roast on premises, you might just be able to make out the roaster behind the counter with the bright light and short silver tube:

 

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Double espresso seemed standard, or at least was what I got when just ordering an espresso.

 

 

Miyakoshi Coffee in Nihonbashi was a delight, but pricey.  On the corner of the 4th floor of a fancy/pricey designer mall (Mitsukoshi), you are paying for your seat - $10 a coffee.  But its a fantastic place to get some work done, and has a non-smoking section.

 

 

Cova Coffee in another mall (Times Square Takashimaya maybe?) is a chain (there is one in Shanghai), but a good one.  Nothing special, but solid.

 

 

Lastly, two odd ball places I didn't try:

 

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The aptly named Treehouse Coffee in Harajuku.

 

And this van, which is apparently a chain (Motoya) - I saw them in Omotesando and Daikanyama:

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#12 changeup

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:49 PM

But really the best part of all this is that as a tourist you can basically just land in a neighborhood, google "neighborhood name + coffee" and come up with at least one easily found and pretty great coffee shop around you.   For pretty much everywhere you go.   Miyakoshi is the only one on the list above that I purposefully set out to from my hotel, prepared ahead of time - and that's cause I asked the concierge "where is the nearest great coffee".  It was 1 block down.



#13 Orik

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:13 AM

And you wouldn't imagine it, but espresso was practically non-existent here a few years ago.

 

For next time:

 

Shakerato at Fuglen, and everything else really. 

 

Be a Good Neighbor (Harajuku-ish location, not Sky Tree), but not when it's terribly hot and humid outside. 


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#14 Orik

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 07:55 AM

The very enthusiastic owner of Identity Coffee, where they pull Intelligentsia and soon also Handsome, told me there's some place that served Blue Bottle (I didn't catch the name but a search reveals this might be Potluck @ Opening Ceremony). Four Barrel is also rumored to be on its way and will be roasting locally. 


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#15 AaronS

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 06:16 PM

really wish the handsome at demi monde had happened.  I bought some beans at marlow & sons that I really liked.