Tokyo is a great spot for coffee lovers. From a traditional kissaten, to a modern latte den, you can try a new cafe every day. Just be warned- if you're looking for breakfast or something more substantial, you'll have to choose carefully.
Here are some of the places we've enjoyed:
Jaho Coffee (at Plain People)
Spend just a few hours in Tokyo and you’ll be desperate to discover where everyone is buying clothes which are at once angular and cosy. Boston roastery Jaho Coffee has opened their Tokyo outlet inside Plain People, the shop that contains your dream Tokyo wardrobe.
If your wallet is more latte sized, and mine definitely is, then go for the coffee. Tokyo’s coffee seems to have adopted the Australian bent for a lighter roast, but Jaho’s slightly darker roast packs more of a punch, giving a rounded flavour that’s well matched to the local milk.
The food on offer is more substantial than you’ll find in many Tokyo cafes, especially around lunchtime, where there is a daily set on offer. You won’t find anything approaching an Aussie breakfast, but that’s maybe not a bad thing. Daily muffins and baked goods are on offer, along with toast and jam.
Monocle mag darling Fuglen now has two Tokyo outposts along with the original Oslo flagship. Their Tomigaya cafe and bar is a great spot for a morning latte and donatsu, or an evening cocktail. But it’s invariably packed, and a foreigner magnet. Instead, try the Yoyogi Park roastery outpost.
It’s not somewhere you’ll want to spend a long time relaxing, the seating is minimal and it’s very much a working roastery. But there are the vintage couches you’d expect from an outfit that also sells designer furniture and a wide selection of beans to purchase. The graphic design deserves a special mention- if you’re looking to buy distinctive souvenirs, you’ve found the spot.
Melburnians will recognise the much-loved Cibi from the Collingwood institution. While the Tokyo outlet isn’t serving Melbourne’s signature Japanese breakfast, you can tuck into avocado toast or scrambled eggs. Both served with a Japanese twist, both are very welcome sights in a city that doesn’t tend towards breakfast.
True to Melbourne form, the coffee here is great. The roast here is also on the darker side, giving a cup full of flavour.
It's an incredibly pleasant place to hang out. If you’re really missing home, you can also order a Coopers or a glass of shiraz and settle in. The shop also stocks an excellent range of beautiful and unique souvenirs, often available with furoshiki cloth wrapping. Don't miss the chance to snack your way up and down the nearby Yanaka Shopping Street (Yanaka Ginza), it's an absolute gem.
The Shibuya outpost of the very busy Onibus roasters, About Life is the very first place I ever went for coffee in Tokyo. Onibus is one of the key roasters in Tokyo, and they do a lovely job. We first enjoyed their coffee at Len in Kyoto (read more about why we love Len and quickly chased down that next cup in Tokyo.
Another outfit that gives a clear hat tip to Sydney and Melbourne ("the Holy Land of Coffee Culture"), aficionados will find a lot to like at each of the four Onibus spots. But About Life is the place I stumbled across on Instagram, and very badly wanted to be at. With little food, apart from the odd biscuit, this isn't somewhere you would plan to hang out for hours, but anyway, you've got Tokyo to explore, so you need to get going!
Oh, and by night, Sake Stand upstairs is a great spot to get better acquainted with sake. You can try the different varieties on offer each evening, and enjoy them hot or cold.
Nem Coffee Espresso
I chased down Nem one morning when I'd already been in Japan for three weeks, and I wanted eggs on toast more than anything else. I was tipped off that Nem were serving an egg on toast (singular of course) as a breakfast option, and off we went.
Nem is in Hiroo, a lovely suburb, and one very popular with ex-pats. It's worth leaving a little post-coffee time to explore the area. The cafe itself is just a lovely experience, from start to finish. While the egg supply had been exhausted before we arrived, we snacked on toasted panaforte (what a great idea!), drank delicious coffee and read magazines.
The interior has been put together with obvious care, and alongside coffee from Nozy Coffee and other local roasters, you'll find Australian Prana Chai. It's a dream of a place to spend a few hours, even better if you make it in time to snag an egg.