Our 10 café nominees include several of Tokyo’s most in-demand speciality coffee shops, but you’ll also find classic Japanese kissaten, artisanal tea rooms and cafés famed mainly for their superb desserts – all great places to spend a few quiet moments in the city.
Café de l'Ambre
'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, now just a few years shy of his 100th birthday – though he's entrusted some younger tykes to handle the day-to-day running of the place. Though they treat their coffee with…
All the beans are roasted on the premises of this dedicated coffee specialist in suburban Minami-Senju in northern Tokyo. Cafe Bach supplied the coffee for the G8 summit that took place in Okinawa in 2000, a meeting that is commemorated on the Japanese ¥2,000 note.
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, which opened in May 2012, transplants the concept to a backstreet corner not far from Yoyogi Park, in the space formerly occupied by Koz Café. Fuglen Tokyo…
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 for your americano…
Good People & Good Coffee
Out of the many deserving coffee shops that have recently opened in Tokyo, if we had to use our trembling, caffeine-addled fingers to place the crown on just one it would be this hipster haven in Ikejiri-Ohashi. The relaxed enclave that it’s carved out of the creative atmosphere of the area is decorated like a garage, with an assortment of tools on the wall…
This tea salon puts a fresh twist on traditional Japanese confectionery. As well as the typical combination of green tea and sweets like cold kuzu noodles, the salon also serves alcohol – ask the staff which beer, shochu or wine goes best with your sweets. They also offer a sparse food menu, including a sumptuous lunch tray with five small dishes, miso soup, rice, green tea and wagashi…
Worth the trip out to Ikegami all on its own, the wonderfully retro Rengetsu is set in a gorgeous Japanese-style home built in 1933. Occupied for decades by a soba shop downstairs and a traditional inn upstairs, the structure looks essentially just like it did back in the early days of Showa: although the straw mats on the ground floor have been replaced by…
Standard latte art is unlikely to make much of an impression after you've laid eyes on the 3D foam cats decorating drinks at this uber-cute café. That's not to say it's all show and no go, either: their coffees, teas and hot chocolates are expertly crafted, while the 'molasses and black sugar matcha soy latte' is a thing of beauty.
Kanda's old Manseibashi station complex has undergone an impressive revival, and this cool café is its most recognisable symbol. Situated right in between the Chuo Line tracks, N3331 is not only the perfect place for train geeks, but also a nice spot for enjoying a long and lazy lunch. The café turns into a nihonshu-focused bar at night.
If you're looking to grab a drink on the go before heading to Inokashira Park, sod Starbucks for once and stop by this café for the real deal. The various tea and chai drinks on offer burst with rich aromas, with their 'boiled milk tea' prepared the traditional Indian way with no added spice. Here, a cup of chai has two teapots worth of tea leaves, giving the drink a full flavour…