The best coffee in Tokyo

Chase the Starbucks blues away in the capital
DAVIDE COFFEE STOP
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
Advertising

Once a source of much complaining amongst foreign residents and visitors alike, Tokyo's coffee scene has undergone nothing short of a revolution in this decade. The capital is now one of the world’s great coffee cities, with more specialist shops than most people can hope to visit in a lifetime. We've once again spent a few over-caffeinated weeks trawling around the city in search of Tokyo's best coffee shops, and after much heated debate, have picked out our 20 favourite cafés. Read on for our top picks, and make sure to also check out our more general list of the city's 50 best cafés.

Reviews by Kaila Imada, Claire Williamson, Ili Saarinen and Yukako Izumi

The best coffee in Tokyo

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Onibus Coffee

icon-location-pin Nakameguro

Occupying a renovated, traditional-style home right by Nakameguro Station, the most interesting café in town run by Jiyugaoka-based roasters and bean importers Onibus is equipped with a shiny espresso machine and newly acquired roaster. Just don’t expect to linger – this is a very functional spot with minimal frills...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Good People & Good Coffee

icon-location-pin Ikejiri-Ohashi

When you come to this small shop tucked in the side streets near Ikejiri-Ohashi station, there are a few things you should expect: a warm welcome from barista Tomoshi Okamoto, friendly conversation, and delicious coffee that bridges a variety of genres. Good People & Good Coffee is small and intimate, and Okamoto uses the space and his coffee...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Paddlers Coffee

icon-location-pin Yoyogi-Uehara

Importing beans from Portland’s famed Stumptown Coffee Roasters every week, Daisuke Matsushima’s Paddlers have been caffeinating shoppers at the Nishihara arcade since 2015. All beans are served fresh in french press or espresso form for the perfect flavour. Beans are also available by the bag, with their most popular roast being the Nano Challa from Ethiopia...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Koffee Mameya

icon-location-pin Harajuku

For those still grieving the loss of Omotesando Koffee, this place is sure to bring respite. Opened by the same man, Eiichi Kunitomo, and located in the exact same place (albeit in a new building), Koffee Mameya is a bean specialist with enough shebang to turn you into a proper barista at home. As the focus is on selling beans, there's no place to sit down and drink, but regular coffee and espresso...

Advertising
Bars and pubs

Fuglen

icon-location-pin Shibuya

A favourite of international style bible Monocle, the original Fuglen shop in Oslo, Norway is a blend of café, cocktail bar and vintage design boutique, where even the furniture is up for sale. Its Tokyo shop transplants the concept to a backstreet corner not far from Yoyogi Park. Fuglen Tokyo opens at 8am on weekdays, selling some remarkably good coffee during the daytime...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Glitch Coffee & Roasters

icon-location-pin Jinbocho

At Glitch you get more than a mere cup of coffee with your order: you get to participate in a coffee vision steeped in history. Kiyokazu Suzuki’s shop is located in fashionably vintage Jinbocho, nestled amongst dozens of secondhand bookstores and just a stone’s throw from Yasukuni Shrine. The shop’s unassuming exterior belies the seriousness with which Suzuki, who spent a decade as chief barista...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Amameria Espresso

icon-location-pin Musashi-Koyama

Located on the ground floor of an apartment building close to Musashi-Koyama Station, certified cupping judge Toshiaki Ishii’s stylish neighbourhood shop merits a trip off the beaten track all by itself. We love the place’s impeccably friendly service, the languid atmosphere enjoyed by everyone from local hipsters to senior citizens and the fact that Amameria upholds a strict non-smoking policy...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Café Obscura

icon-location-pin Sangenjaya

Siphon coffee is the speciality at this Sangenjaya cafe, which looks like the kind of space you'd expect to find attached to a gallery or arthouse cinema, complete with exposed cement ceilings and walls and a well chosen library of art and design books. There are two blend coffees and a rotating selection of single-origin ones, with beans roasted – and sold – at a separate site...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

The Roastery

icon-location-pin Harajuku

Collaboratively run by the folks behind Setagaya's always excellent Nozy Coffee and restaurant impresarios Tysons (TY Harbor, Cicada, Beacon, Ivy Place etc), this uber-hip roastery and café on Harajuku's Cat Street is one of the city's flashiest specialist coffee haunts. Every day, you'll get to choose from two kinds of single-origin beans...

Restaurants, Cafés

Café Kitsuné

icon-location-pin Aoyama

Shortlisted in the Time Out Love Tokyo Awards 2017 The Maison Kitsuné brand has fingers in several pies – fashion, music and, it seems, coffee. Grab a well-brewed cup in the Japanese-style café close to the Maison Kitsuné shop in Omotesando, and browse merchandise such as tote bags and coffee cups. The décor incorporates Japanese touches like custom-made tatami and fusuma sliding doors.

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Café de l'Ambre

icon-location-pin Ginza

'Coffee Only' reads the sign outside Café de l'Ambre, which has been keeping the Ginza hordes well caffeinated since 1948. Remarkably, it's still run by the same man – Ichiro Sekiguchi, 103 – though he's entrusted some younger tykes to handle the day-to-day running of the place. Though they treat their coffee with the utmost seriousness, this isn't one of those fussy, killjoy coffee temples...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Satei Hato

icon-location-pin Shibuya

Stepping through the low, marble-tiled entrance, the first thing you’ll notice is the gorgeous tableware displayed behind a long hardwood counter. That’s not to say that the surroundings here outshine the coffee – on the contrary, Satei Hato’s hand-drip offerings maintain the absolutely highest quality. Choose from up to eight varieties of charcoal-roasted beans and watch as the formally dressed staff prepare your treat with almost religious dedication...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Blue Bottle Coffee

icon-location-pin Kiyosumi

One of the pioneers of 'Third Wave' coffee culture, Oakland-born Blue Bottle's first Tokyo shop occupies a renovated Fukagawa factory, a stone's throw from the Kiyosumi Garden and around a five-minute walk from Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station. In addition to the downstairs café, the building houses a roastery, a kitchen and the company's offices...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Davide Coffee Stop

icon-location-pin Iriya

Who knew Iriya had a place like this? Daisuke Matsushita's Davide is a very decent take on an Italian streetside café, sidestepping drip coffee entirely (simply because it takes too long to brew) and offering excellent espressos and lattes instead. Down yours at the counter or just get one to go – the man in charge of the machine doesn't care either way...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Coffee Amp

icon-location-pin Koenji

Tucked down a cosy shopping street in Koenji, Amp is run by a husband-wife duo who have been turning out carefully roasted beans and quality cups of coffee since 2010. The roaster is the first thing you'll notice on entering – space is at a premium in this narrow shop, with weathered floorboards and seats for just over a dozen people, none of them especially comfortable...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Arise Coffee Roasters

icon-location-pin Kiyosumi

Located in coffee central, aka Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, Arise is the kind of place where you feel like you’re having a good ol’ cup of coffee at your friend’s house. The walls are covered with the owner’s skateboard decks which he’s collected over the years, and there’s a handful of trinkets from his travels to Thailand littered around the in-house roaster. As for the coffee, there are about ten single-origin varieties to choose from...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Turret Coffee

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

The chalkboard in front of Turret Coffee says ‘Welcome to the best outrageous coffee shop in Japan’. Named for the ‘turret’ mini-trucks that zip around nearby Tsukiji fish market, Turret Coffee and its owner Kiyoshi Kawasaki both pull and pour quality espresso, all in a funky, intimate space. Relax on one of the few ‘real’ seats or sit on the back of an actual turret as you chat with friends, or with Kawasaki himself...

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

4/4 Seasons Coffee

icon-location-pin Shinjuku-Nichome

The perfect place for a coffee break in busy Shinjuku, 4/4 Seasons serves up a well-curated selection of single-origin beans roasted in house daily. Up at the front of the café you’ll be greeted by the roaster alongside tubs of beans – if you’re lucky enough, you can catch the staff in action, meticulously measuring and carefully roasting their beans all while keeping track of the process...

Advertising
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Coffeehouse Nishiya

icon-location-pin Shibuya

An Italian-style bar and café run by the jovial and talented Kyohei Nishiya, this welcoming Shibuya spot has a laidback neighbourhood feel to it – not least due to the owner-barista's no-frills attitude and the fun, retro décor. Nishiya pulls a highly competent espresso, but his establishment's real charms lie elsewhere...

Bars and pubs, Café bars

Lo Spazio

icon-location-pin Gakugei-Daigaku

Imagine a stereotypical neighborhood Italian bar transposed to the suburbs of Tokyo, and you might get something like Lo Spazio. It's one of those rare places where you can prop up the counter while sipping your espresso after work (or grappa, if it's got to that point in the evening), and even the slightly shabby decor is of a piece with the kind of places you might expect to find in a small town...

Prefer a cup of tea or a proper meal?

Advertising