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Tokyo Cafe Guide – Espresso Coffee Near Me

Oh god. I know we are supposed to be immersing ourselves in culture. The desire to find a quality espresso coffee near me is overpowering. There’s not many things I enjoy more at the beginning the day than to sip on a quality brew and watch the world go by. Tokyo cafes are a terrific insight into Japanese society and the fastidious nature of the Japanese and espresso seems to be a match made in heaven.

It may pay to check out some mobile wifi options to help you get around town, we’ve covered it here in a separate post. This Tokyo Cafe Guide is a selection of hard to find but rewarding experiences. Remember that being in Tokyo requires certain accommodations. Many of these places are tiny. If we can find a space where you can rub elbows and sit down we’ll take it, but the ingenuity behind these spaces is to be admired. There are more finds to come, but this is a list of what we have discovered so far on the Tokyo espresso coffee scene.

Shimokitazawa

Perhaps not the obvious place to start if you are new to Tokyo. Shimokitazawa or “Shimo” is well known for it’s thrift stores and bohemian feel but to add to its appeal is one of the highest concentrations of quality espresso coffee shops in Tokyo. There is a few contenders but Shimo is where we love to stay when in Tokyo and the choice is fantastic, probably the only negative (for some) is that it is 10 minutes down the train line from Shibuya. Either way, Shimokitazawa should be on your “Discover Tokyo” list and now you can do it caffeinated!

Frankie Melbourne Espresso

It’s weird that you would go all the way to Tokyo and get so excited when you see something familiar. It’s no surprise where Frankie’s gets its inspiration (owned by an Australian). We love this place and in the theme of this post, it was the closest espresso coffee near me when we woke on our first ever morning in Tokyo. The staff are as friendly as ever, they all speak English which does wonders for your anxiety on the first morning. And they serve pint size lamingtons and lemon slice, among other recognisable eats and treats. Frankie will always be our first love 😍.

Address: Japan, 155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya, Kitazawa, 2 Chome-7-12 Nature Shimokitazawa
Business Hours: Tues 11:30AM TO 6:30PM. Wed, Thur, Sun 10 am TO 8 pm. FRI, Sat 10A am – 9 pm. CLOSED Monday.

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food 80% 80%
  • Seating Availability 60% 60%
  • Outdoor Seating 10% 10%

Bear Pond Espresso

We are conflicted here. If ever you could form an opinion on something without a bonafide experience, it would be Bear Pond Espresso. The reviews online make for extremely entertaining reading, suffice to say, risk misbehaving at your peril (soup nazi comes to mind). Having said that the owner is acknowledged as one of Japan’s espresso masters and is clearly protective about his privacy which you have to respect. We popped by in the evening when he wasn’t there, the young barista was lovely and the coffee was second to nothing else we had in Tokyo, so rich and not a trace of bitterness… and we behaved.

Address: 1 Chome-17 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0002 Business Hours: Mon to Fri 10:00am – 11:00pm | Sun, Sat Holiday 11:30am – 11:00pm

  • Coffee 95% 95%
  • Food n/a% n/a%
  • Seating Availability 60% 60%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a% n/a%

Ballon D’essai

This is a strange place, can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps for it’s tenuous link to the French name, something about a view from a balloon (practically fluent I know… where you’ll get the best view of your latte I suppose). I’ve never been a fan of latte art and it’s largely because places like this do coffee that stands on its own. Really enjoyed our late night brew here and again, right next door to Ichiyru Ramen (an hilarious double act mom & pop ramen shop).

Address: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tōkyō-to, Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−30−11
Business Hours: Tues to Fri 10:30am – 9:00pm Closed Monday | Sun, Sat Holiday 10:30am – 9:00pm

  • Coffee 85% 85%
  • Food n/a% n/a%
  • Seating Availability 50% 50%
  • Outdoor Seating 50% 50%

Coffea Exlibris

If cute was the defining quality then this one wins everytime. We hadn’t realised Coffea Exlibris was just behind where we once stayed in Shimokitazawa. It was a rainy evening and there was a gag-on for something other than ramen (that wouldn’t require a soaking)… and there it was… cue the angels😇. In true Japanese style or perhaps an accentuated version, everything is quaint. The chairs are tiny, the tables are tiny, the cups are tiny and make the wooden spoons look like shovels. The stamped postcard you get with your coffee is a great touch. Coffee was better than the stale cake, which seems to be the standard fair in many cafes. Exlibris stays open until 10pm.

Address: Japan, 〒155-0032 Tokyo, Setagaya, Daizawa, 5 Chome−8−16
Business Hours: 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm Closed fridays

  • Coffee 70% 70%
  • Food 50% 50%
  • Seating Availability 60% 60%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a % n/a %

W/O Stand

Back across the railway line you’ll find this funky little instagram hotspot where there seems to be more people photographing their neon signage than drinking their coffee, which is a shame (he says whilst snapping away) as the coffee is so good… why not photograph neon signage and sip on a kick arse coffee? Great for a late night brew after a bowl of ramen at Kuwajima.

Address: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tōkyō-to, Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−26−26-10 マサキビル
Business Hours: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm

  • Coffee 85% 85%
  • Food n/a% n/a%
  • Seating Availability 10% 10%
  • Outdoor Seating 10% 10%

Hatagaya / Sasazuka

Just across from Shimokitazawa, still on the south-west side of Shibuya there is a cluster of espresso cafes of which we only had time for one. Actually, it was bucketing down most of the time so we lost the drive to wander the streets. At least we lucked out with our one experience here, we’ll be back to add to the list.

Paddlers Coffee

This is a charming little venue (I have to stop writing that… they’re all little). Just a couple of small blocks from Hatagaya Station on the Keio New Line, it’s tucked away down a side street with a charming little courtyard. The cafe itself is modern concrete trimmed out in wood which gives it a very traditional feel despite the brutal twist. There is plenty of seating and they have an extensive collection of western vinyl on show and playing constantly. They also sell second-hand Japanese and US kitch. The coffee was terrific, very smooth… well worth the trip.

Address: Japan, 〒151-0066 Tokyo, 渋谷区Nishihara, 2 Chome−26−5
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 6:00 pm Closed holiday / Mondays

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food n/a % n/a %
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating 90% 90%

Kamiyama

We’ve always managed to circumnavigate Kamiyama until our recent trip and now I can say I wish we had fit it on the agenda earlier. Kamiyama is tucked away on the south east-ish side of Yoyogi Park, away from the hustle and bustle of Harajuku and Shibuya. It’s got a very chilled feel and considering you there a lazy 10 minute walk from Shibuya there’s every excuse to pay a visit, choose from some seriously good coffee shops and take in a more laid back side of central Tokyo.

Camelback – Kamiyama

A quirky little coffee and sandwich shop venture by two guys that really have a grasp of their craft. We’ll be doing a separate post on Camelback but until we do let me just say that you’ll be searching long and hard for a smoother coffee and the sandwich makes for a welcome and delicious pit stop. There’s two outlets one close to Yoyogi-Koen Station and the other about 4/5 blocks south, tucked away off the same street.

Address: 42-2 Kamiyamacho, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0047, Japan
Business Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Closed Mondays

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food 85% 85%
  • Seating Availability 20% 20%
  • Outdoor Seating a couple of benches outdoors% a couple of benches outdoors%

Fuglen Espresso – Kamiyama

If you ever wondered what would happen if Scandinavian met Mid Century Modern behind an art deco facade in downtown Tokyo you’ll never have to ponder that again if you find your way to Fuglen Espresso. This Norwegian chain is possibly the best cafe we came across for the digi nomad, it feels more like a cafe tucked away in Tribeca than south of Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Great seating, beautifully appointed building and decor. Kick arse coffee.

Address: 1 Chome-2-5 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0041, Japan
Business Hours: 8:00 am till late most days (10pm – 2am)

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food n/a didn't sample it% n/a didn't sample it%
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating 70% 70%

Harajuku / Omotesando

As far as inner city Tokyo goes we really love this area. Yes, you’ve got the famous shopping district on Takeshita Street (which sounds kind of ironic if you break it down.. take-shit-ha), but coming from the Yoyogi Park end, if you cross the first main road that you come to after the shopping area you’ll enter a maze of funky little streets, shops and cafes. There’s a lot to explore and quite a few cafe options here but you can use it as a starting or finishing point to wander around behind the fancy shopping of Omotesando before diving right in (one pass along Omotesando is the responsible approach $$😉).

Deus Ex Machina – Harajuku

Love, love, love this place. Probably the coolest espresso cafe in Tokyo, at least that we’ve found. Part night club, part clothes store, part motorcycle museum and big part great coffee shop. The food is awesome as well and there is more seating options here than you’ll find in most of these boutique coffee places in Tokyo.

Address: 3-29-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Business Hours: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Fri 9:00 am to 11:00 pm

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food 85% 85%
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a% n/a%

Streamer – Harajuku

The sister cafe to Streamer Shimokitazawa has got to be the smallest tallest coffee shop in Tokyo and a contender for the world title. It’s three floors of quirky upended ship container… or at least it feels like it. The views are cool and the coffee is well… streamer fantastic.

Address: 1 Chome-20-28 Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan
Business Hours: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Sat-Sun 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food n/a% n/a%
  • Seating Availability 70% 70%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a% n/a%

Mojo – Harajuku

This is one of the western chains that are making a bit of name for themselves, we tried two of these, both by accident… must have a nose for it. There’s lots of seating around the window and a massive communal table. Coffee was not as good as we had hoped nor was the food, but it’s a welcome respite from the madness outside.

Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 3 Chome−22−15
Business Hours: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Sun/Sat 9:00 am to 7:00 pm

  • Coffee 60% 60%
  • Food 40% 40%
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating 90% 90%

Blue Bottle Coffee – Aoyama

Another chain from the west. There’s a few opinions floating about on this place, a little too slick for some. But when you’re gagging for a good brew (which was up good there with any we’d had) with a plate of poached eggs along with a view then this will do the trick. The design is very modern and funky… lots of concrete. Plenty of seating and there’s a nice balcony overlooking a lovely garden. A great place to fuel up either before or after your shopping on Omotesando.

Address: Japan, 13-14 Minami Aoyama Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062 Tokyo 13-14 Kabandozuka Minami Aoyama
Business Hours: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm everyday

  • Coffee 80% 80%
  • Food 80% 80%
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating 90% 90%

Daikanyama

Daikanyama is a very popular area for weekend strollers with a real mix of funky cafes, retail stores, embassies and dog groomers. It’s got a very polished feel. The undulating geography makes for great exploring, meandering from Daikanyama across to Ebisu and gawking at the endless architectural innovations is a well spent afternoon for us.

Sidewalk Cafe – Daikanyama

Another one of our favourite cafes in Tokyo. The soft toasted cheese and pastrami ciabattas with a velvet smooth coffee is perfect for when you need a break from the more traditional Japanese cuisine. There’s a compact area upstairs with plenty of seating and views out to the canal which would be a tad special come blossom time. This makes a great starting point for exploring the area, the popular T-Site shopping complex/book store is just up the hill.

Address: Japan, 153-0042 Tōkyō-to, Meguro-ku, Aobadai, 1 Chome−23−14
Business Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food 90% 90%
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating 10% 10%

Kagurasaka

This is a really cute area of Tokyo. Perhaps as close as you’ll get to the Kyoto experience, but there’s lots of steep hills so be warned – check out some of our posts on Kyoto here. We caught the Tozai Line to the top of hill at Kagurasaka Station then wandered around the Akagi Shusse Inari Shrine among others before exploring the neighbourhood as we made our way downhill to Iidabashi Station, which hooks up with multiple lines on the Metro. We had actually planned on stopping at WEEKENDERS COFFEE All Right (there’s a mouthful) but it was closed. It’s a very chilled part of Tokyo and well worth popping onto your itinerary, we’ll be looking for some more options next time we go back.

Mojo – Kagurazaka

We stumbled across this by accident, which was a welcome sight considering nothing else was open in the area. This little cafe is tucked away on the side of a hill in a residential area with limited seating indoors but it totally redeemed the Mojo experience in our eyes. Coffee was strong but really smooth and well stretched and the custard donut still lingers in our dreams.

Address: Japan, 2F Yoneda Building Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0817
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, Sun/Sat 9:00 am to 8:00 pm

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food 90% 90%
  • Seating Availability 70% 70%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a % n/a %

Chiyoda

The Imperial Palace, or what’s left of it and the Science Museum along with the Museum of Modern Art, which we covered here in a good read on Tokyo’s art museums. They are all clustered together within a few blocks from Jimbocho Station so it’s an area you’ll likely find yourself exploring. The gardens around the palace ruins are huge and pretty special, especially if you happen to be in Tokyo during the cherry blossom.

Image by Kimon Berlin

Glitch Coffee & Roasters

Glitch is a welcome site in an area that is very “business district” but the coffee is worth the trip alone. They have a little roaster in the centre of the roam and a rock star does his thing behind his hair machine (never actually saw his face). Very smooth latte, had a pour taster as well… not my thing.

Address: Japan, 〒 101 – 0054 Tōkyō – to, Chiyoda – ku, Kanda Nishikichō, 3-chōme 3 − 16 Kamura Biru
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 8:00 pm, Sun/Sat 9:00 am to 7:00 pm

  • Coffee 90% 90%
  • Food n/a % n/a %
  • Seating Availability 70% 70%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a % n/a %

Fukagawa

This is an interesting area on the east side of town and surprisingly laid back. The area we wandered about was old school industrial, very chilled, we enjoyed checking it out and met some really nice locals along the way. There’s quite a lot of well known espresso cafes, but the trick is finding a time when more than one is open. Our goal was ARiSE COFFEE ROASTERS but guess what… closed. But the up side is that with 3 or 4 to choose from you’ll likely strike it lucky with one and you can also fit in a visit to the Edo Museum as well which we covered here in a previous post.

Fukadaso Cafe

This is one of those places that makes it into the list just ‘cos. The space is very cool, an old warehouse which is fitting for the area. The owner is very happy, unfortunately the coffee wasn’t great but the pancakes were plated in such a bizarre fashion that they deserve a mention.

Address: Japan, 〒135-0023 Tokyo, Koto, Hirano, 1 Chome−9−7
Business Hours: Sun, Thurs, Sat 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Mon 1:30 pm to 6:00 pm, Fri 1:00 pm to 9:30 pm, Closed Tues/Weds

  • Coffee 50% 50%
  • Food 60% 60%
  • Seating Availability 90% 90%
  • Outdoor Seating n/a % n/a %

Google Map – Tokyo Cafes, Espresso Coffee Near Me

Getting around in Tokyo

We got Pasmo cards from a ticket machine at any station. You charge it up whenever you like. It will get you on any train within the designated system and the buses. Don’t worry too much about going outside of the zones. Be sure to keep change on you so that when the dreaded “beep” goes off you can pay the attendant the difference.

Where to Stay in Tokyo

We use Airbnb whenever the opportunity pops up. We run our own place in Port Douglas so know the system pretty well and for us it’s the most user-friendly of the private holiday rental apps. It’s a bit tricky to find places under 3 nights but if you are planning a holiday for longer click here to set up an Airbnb account, you’ll get way more bang for your buck. *IN JUNE 2018 THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED A RADICAL CHANGE IN LICENSING FOR PRIVATE HOLIDAY RENTALS READ THIS AND BE SURE TO CONFIRM WITH YOUR HOST THAT THEY ARE LICENSED.

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Credits

Whilst many of the images are our own we did get some help from the some talented individuals, we like to give credit when it’s due! If you click their links under the images you will see some fantastic portfolios of passionate travellers and photographers. All images were obtains under the Creative Commons Licensing Agreements