Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Coffee Day in Tokyo


My morning cup.

Golden Week, Japan. Golden Week is a mash-up of holidays (green day, kid's day, some other day) that all come together to give Japanese people a kind-of week off. This year, Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday were working days, sandwiched between some long weekends. I am freelance so I was off the whole time.

The point I'm getting at is that this one week is when everyone has a holiday. Leaving Tokyo is horrible. Traffic is insane. Serene nature is inundated with city folk. Disneyland . . . maybe you can ride 2 or 3 attractions in an entire day.

Stay-cation is the way to go.

Anyways, I spent a day cycling around to local coffee shops.


First up is Bear Pond in Shimokitazawa. Only open for a few hours a day, this spot is kind of revered as one of the world's espresso meccas. Katsu Tanaka is absolutely fanatical about the stuff here, and an espresso will come out as less than an ounce of bitter chocolate that I think sends most people to the nearest Starbucks for something they are used to.


Unless you know that this is what you want, you might want to go with one of the other drinks, all of which are excellent. Dude lived in NY for a few decades, so you can ask him about coffee in English.



There seems to be a cafe boom in Tokyo, by the sheer number of magazines and books devoted to the places. I should say, a nerdy coffee boom. Tokyo actually led the planet in cafes back in the 60s, but these places, some of which remain, are often just smoky hangouts for old dudes who could care less about the flavor of their drink.

This perception of Tokyo being a coffee town is, I think, an illusion. The specific kind of shop that I'm searching for, airy, open spaces where people hang out and mingle, seem to be only a handful. Places with art on the walls and good music on the stereo. Well, minus the art and music I guess that would be Starbucks.


Nozy Coffee wasn't far away by bicycle.


The first branch of this excellent roaster is somewhere near the beach, probably next to the beach houses of the residents of Setagaya, where this 2nd shop is.

The coffee here is all single origin, and a hipster coffee nerd could have a field day with their variety.



I had a french press of something-or-other. Yeah, I'm obviously note that into the details. Atmosphere is what I like, and Nozy seems more like a place I would just go to buy beans for my home.

I heard you get a free cup if you buy beans here.


If anything reminds me of the San Francisco coffee shops back home, Streamer is it.


Just park your pisto out front, and you are good to go. There is art on the walls. The soundtrack was the latest Wiz Khalifa. The fashions were intentional.


The owner is some kind of world champion latte art guy, so expect a beautiful cup.

This place should be teeming with 20-something hipsters on MacBooks, but it isn't. Instead, being surrounded by some of the most exclusive high rises in Tokyo, this is a family hangout. Tons of kids bouncing around, playing gameboys, and drinking coffee.


Four cups was enough for 1 afternoon. There are a few more places to speak on in this area, like the mega old spot with massive ikebana arrangements on the tables and the soup-nazi spot in Kichijoji. By the way, don't use the pop reference soup-nazi in Japan. People will think you are talking about real nazis and it is awkward.

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