The novelty of coffee-in-a-can or a do-it-yourself 7-Eleven coffee is great when you first arrive in Japan, but after a while, you might find yourself craving a real, satisfying caffeine hit. Upgrading to Starbucks (affectionately called “sutaba” in Japanese), while it may be pretty consistent with stores around just about every corner, an iced matcha frappuccino with extra cream is not for everyone. For those who would like a little more than the chain cafe experience (despite Dotour and Tully's Coffee being reasonably-priced and easily accessible), thankfully, top quality espresso and third wave coffee culture are well on the rise. For the best caffeine and easygoing Tokyo cafe vibes, here is our guide to the best Tokyo cafes and roasteries offering killer coffee!
Blue Bottle Coffee, Roppongi
With the science of a perfect brew down to a fine art, Blue Bottle Coffee has been making waves in recent years with their quality hand dripped coffee. Originally a California coffee roastery, it has since expanded across the globe and focuses on single origin sustainable coffee. The Roppongi store is tucked underneath a towering skyscraper, encased by floor to ceiling glass windows and a sleek but minimal, open linden wood design. You make your purchase on an iPad, typing in your order and name, which the staff will call out once it’s your turn. They'll pour your expertly frothed milk in front of you, which you can enjoy with a six-ingredient sandwich, a nod to the Roppongi (meaning "six trees") area. They also sell some sweets, take-home coffee products, and Blue Bottle merch. Blue Bottle has a few other locations around the city such as Aoyama and Shinagawa.
Sarutahiko Coffee Flagship Store, Ebisu
Ebisu is home to the flagship store for specialty coffee maker, Sarutahiko. With an aim to bring a smile to your cafe with each cup, Surutakiho’s coffee is delicious and its staff are extremely friendly. They sell carefully-selected single origin beans and special blends, iced and hot, as well as a delicious brew of espresso. While it may not be coffee, the intense green matcha lattes are also worth a try if you're a fan of green tea. Their lattes are lovely but be warned, they are large, and Sarutahiko's drip coffee serves are pretty generous too. The branch in Sengawa features broad windows and two floors, while if you’re heading down towards the Kanagawa area, the Musashi-Kosugi store has velvet cushions and smooth jazz to accompany your leisurely brew. And, the staff there go above and beyond, even following you out the door to bow to you when you leave. Some stores also sell a small menu including pancakes and Tiki Taka gourmet ice cream if you like something sweet with your coffee.
METoA Cafe & Kitchen, Ginza
Located on the first floor of the stunning METoA building in Ginza, the METoA Cafe & Kitchen is an Australian-inspired Tokyo cafe that makes a truly awesome cup of coffee. It is the resident cafe and restaurant of Mitsubishi Electric’s interactive technology showrooms, which occupy the two floors above. With beans supplied by the New Zealand-born Allpress Coffee Roastery, roasted locally in the upcoming coffee capital of Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, they serve a serious espresso along with a beautiful lunch and dinner menu. With a focus on food that is both delicious and nutritious, there is a special set meal price which includes coffee. Featuring a long wooden table great for groups, enjoy the modern cafe design and spectacular main meals, followed by a gorgeous latte and wild selection of colorful desserts.
Verve Coffee Roasters, Shinjuku
Born in Santa Cruz, California, this trendy coffee company not only produces excellent espresso but believes in sustainable, fair trade coffee. With plants hanging from the ceiling, Verve in Shinjuku is all cool white tiles and sleek counters and stools; it’s a modest space which is as hip as its coffee is delicious. With an easygoing and upbeat atmosphere, you’ll find delicious coffee options including paper drip and nitro cold brew, alongside espresso from an impressive custom-made machine. Verve Coffee Roasters also have another store casually brewing in the trendy area of Omotesando. Both sell a variety of beans and merch to take home for those who are keen coffee enthusiasts, as well as some stellar donuts.
GLITCH COFFEE BREWED @ 9H, Akasaka
Committed to cultivating an honest coffee culture and the perfect roast, GLITCH coffee is another Tokyo cafe brought to you by a small team of people who are very serious about high-quality brews. Specializing in “light roast coffee”, the beans here are roasted lightly in order to keep the flavor and character of the single origin coffee. This smaller branch of Glitch in Akasaka is a hole-in-the-wall coffee spot, nestled beneath the impressive architecture of the designer Nine Hours capsule hotel. In appreciation of the craftsmanship of a fine brew, Glitch Coffee Brewed @ 9h only sells no-nonsense, single origin pure black coffee. At their main Glitch Coffee & Roasters store in Jimbocho however, you can sit up close and personal with the house coffee roaster, as they roast onsite and sell a few more beverage options. Enjoy a cup of AeroPress or espresso in the Jimbocho roastery if you need a little pick me up before starting your day.
Not far off, bordering the line between Suidobashi and Jimbocho areas, this 10-out-of-10 little gem, Dixans, seriously must be mentioned in this list of Tokyo cafes for its beautiful, creamy lattes. Enter a low-lit cafe just off of the main street, and be welcomed by some exquisite homemade pastries and some elaborate French-inspired coffee style names. But, au contraire, the offerings are actually really down-to-earth with a warm atmosphere. The cafe itself is dimmed and elegant, and somehow quirky and friendly at the same time: soft piano and Spanish guitars in the background are matched with eclectic monochrome artworks and plants to make a really cozy space. Wait, what’s so good about the coffee? Definitely opt in on a milk-based espresso coffee here, because the latte art is amazing and unbelievably cute, without compromising the flavor (and it doesn’t come with a particularly burdensome price, either).
Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro
Onibus aims to connect people through coffee, and they do it with a welcoming vibe and rich house roasted beans. Head upstairs to the second floor where you’ll find a cozy terrace cafe space, decorated with plants and featuring one huge Diedrich Roaster inside. With just 12 seats inside, the menu is as compact as the tiny Tokyo cafe itself: grab an espresso, americano, latte, or hand drip coffee. Their name comes from the Portuguese word meaning “public bus”, a bus that connects people by driving them between neighborhoods. This Tokyo cafe comes from a holistic collaborative design: with wall art and special cups are produced by local makers, and the wall tiles come from a central pottery town in Japan. There are standing counters to sip your coffee as well as some outdoor seats to enjoy one of Tokyo’s best brews with a view of trains rumbling by. Onibus is one of four sister branches dotted along the neighborhoods from trendy Nakameguro through to the residential Okusawa store, building a community through coffee.
MONKEY CAFE D.K.Y., Daikanyama
You cannot miss Monkey Cafe in its very impressive stand-alone building, with its exterior of wood and windows twisting towards the upper floor gallery space. The bright, spacious, and unusual architecture emerges starkly from the surrounding greenery, and its modern design is trendy, as to be expected in Daikanyama. And, good news, this Tokyo cafe doesn't sacrifice its coffee standard in favor of appearance. The open wooden interior space curves up across different levels, where you can sit back and enjoy an awesome hand dripped coffee with a creative atmosphere. Their blend coffee changes monthly, while at Monkey they also make a delicious espresso latte and creamy mocha as well. Selling a few sweets and some merch from local artists, they also have generous servings of artisanal gelato and a particularly impressive affogato. And of course, all served by extra pleasant staff.
With a variety of different brewing techniques and locally roasted beans, Tokyo cafes and roasteries are cultivating a love of quality coffee, building on the longstanding Japanese kissaten "cafe" culture. With a growing third wave coffee scene, you can certainly find some of the best Tokyo cafes with killer coffee brewed throughout the city.