Tokyos best coffee shops

25 places to chase the Starbucks blues away

Tokyo’s best coffee shops

Tokyo: nice city, shame about the coffee. This used to be a standard complaint amongst foreign residents and visitors alike, with even people who'd considered themselves permanently indisposed to Seattle's most famous coffee export being forced to seek out the 'Bucks in order to get a cup of Joe that seemed even halfway worthy of the name. And while part of the problem was down to ignorance (Café de l'Ambre has been open since 1948, for crying out loud), the good places generally took a lot of effort to find, with shops specialising in espresso drinks being particularly thin on the ground.

No more. The last few years have seen a sharp increase in the number of serious-minded coffee makers plying their trade around the capital, many of them roasting their own beans and wielding heavy-duty espresso machines. Moreover, with the odd exception, most of them actually know what they're doing. Time Out spent a few over-caffeinated weeks trawling around the city in search of Tokyo's best coffee shops, and we were impressed by how many good places we found. If we've missed your favourite, let us know via our Twitter account. And remember: drink responsibly, now.

Espresso style

Central Tokyo

Identity Coffee Bar + Gallery
A haven for hardcore coffee nerds
At the first Japanese outpost of Chicago gourmet coffee snobs Intelligentsia, you can choose single-origin beans that are tagged not just by country, but by specific farm. Read more

Caffe Il Solito
Would you like some art with that?
Self-taught barista Glen Onodera dispenses superior espressos and frequently hilarious banter at his coffee stand, housed in an art gallery on the backstreets of Ebisu. Read more

Streamer Coffee Company
Latte art goes OTT
While the free wifi and communal seating are nice touches, it's the 'extreme' latte art of Hiroshi Sawada and his crew that keeps people coming back to this Shibuya staple. Read more

Omotesando Koffee
Tokyo's strangest pop-up shop?
Coffee dispensaries don't get more unusual than this one, where espressos are whipped up within a cube frame deposited inside a 60-year-old wooden house. Read more

Mojo Coffee
Make it a flat white
Friendly, English-speaking staff whip up piccolos and flat whites at this Kagurazaka-based outpost of New Zealand's Mojo Coffee, which sits atop its very own roastery. Read more

Little Nap Coffee Stand
In park. Need coffee
You'll be getting your latte in a paper cup at this friendly little shop, whose location just across the road from Yoyogi Park makes it perfect for caffeine-craving picnickers. Read more

Scandinavian style
When it isn't whipping up cocktails, this Oslo import serves some distinctive Norwegian roasts. The espressos are good, but the AeroPress coffees are outstanding. Read more

Sarutahiko Coffee
The fuelling station
Ebisu's dinkiest coffee spot serves satisfying lattes and drip brews at a location that's ideally positioned to snare office drones on their way to work. Read more

West Tokyo

Bear Pond Espresso
Coffee, with attitude
If you can get past the fussy rules and occasionally truculent service, they've got the best espresso in Tokyo: a syrupy trickle that's unbelievably potent. Read more

Nozy Coffee
The young turks
The kids behind the counter are barely out of university, but they're already making some of the best coffee in town – and supplying beans to many other cafés. Read more

Caffé Fresco
Looks can be deceptive
This unprepossessing Asagaya café opened a decade ago and has been getting increasingly serious about its coffee ever since. The owner pulls a mean shot. Read more

Lo Spazio
Your neighbourhood (Italian) bar
Think of it as a local hangout transplanted from Italy to the suburbs of Tokyo, complete with shabby decor, casual food and some seriously good coffee. Read more

Amameria Espresso
Let the aroma reel you in
Worth a detour to Musashi-Koyama, this intimate shop offers consistently good espresso drinks, and sells all the gear you need to make your own. Read more

Coffee Amp
Small and immaculately formed
It's hard to believe that Koenji managed to go for so long without a single decent coffee shop. Coffee Amp addresses that deficiency with panache (and own-roasted beans). Read more

Drip style & others

North Tokyo

Coffee Tei
Deep menu, deeply confused decor
Try not to get distracted by the decor – equal parts British pub and British tea room – and dive into a coffee menu that's the size of a small guide book. Read more

Coffee Western Kitayama
Putting the eccentricity into coffee
They give the impression that they'd much rather have no customers at all, but if you can get through the door, the brews at this Ueno café are superb. Read more

Central Tokyo

Café de l'Ambre
Vintage shop, vintage beans
'Coffee Only' reads the sign outside this bustling shop, which has been keeping the Ginza hordes well caffeinated since 1948. Unpretentious, with aged beans aplenty. Read more

Guild Coffee
Drive-by caffeine fix (again)
With seating for just four people, this Kagurazaka shop is clearly aiming more at the takeaway crowd, and the coffee is a steal if you're ordering it to go. Read more

West Tokyo

Tocoro Cafe
Coffee + tea ceremony. Really
A minimal, uncluttered interior provides an apt setting for the unlikely – and surprisingly successful – fusion of coffee making and Sado, Japanese tea ceremony. Read more

Maruyama Coffee
Grand Cru ’til I die
Chairman of the international Cup of Excellence competition, Kentaro Maruyama offers only the classiest cups of Joe at this Oyamadai café, many using Grand Cru beans. Read more

Coffea Exlibris
Shimokitazawa's other coffee shop
'This is going to be different,' promises the menu, and they aren't lying. Tuck into a strong selection of single-origin coffees at this secretive Shimokitazawa spot. Read more

Harmony Coffee
The intimate option
Sparsely decorated with a collection of antique coffee percolators, Harmony Coffee is as quaint as the name suggests. Meticulously prepared coffee, minimal seating. Read more

Cafe Obscura
Coffee for the arthouse crowd
Brush up your cultural cred at this Sangenjaya café, where the siphon coffee is accompanied by a well chosen library of art and design books that you're free to peruse. Read more

Mocha Coffee
The hardcore option
Owner Hussein Ahmed imports beans from his native Yemen, and his café doesn't sell coffee from anywhere else. Expect some robust, explosive flavours. Read more

Sarugaku Coffee
Tokyo's favourite, apparently
So popular that it even comes with a decoy coffee shop, Sarugaku actually lives up to the hype. Perfect if you prefer to drink your Joe like a fine wine. Read more

By James Hadfield
By Jon Wilks
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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