Cafés from overseas and across Japan are igniting a new wave in the capital’s coffee culture
For a small menu
The folks at Glitch Coffee Brewed, opened in early October, keep it simple. They aim to highlight the fresh-from-the-farm taste of black brews, made with beans sourced from Ethiopia, Kenya and Panama. They serve hand-dripped and cold brews only, in a minimalist space. You can also get a two- or three-coffee set to sample all of their bean offerings.
4-3-14 Akasaka, Minato; glitchcoffee.com
For an international twist
The Oslo-born Fuglen, known for coffee and vintage home décor, opened its third Japanese outpost in Asakusa in September. The central appeal is, of course, the drinks — and not the cocktails that come from the neat little bar. Fuglen’s brews are made with Tokyo roasts, as well as beans from Nordic roasters like Kaffa and Supreme Roastworks.
2-6-15 Asakusa, Taito; fuglencoffee.com
For something from the other side of Japan
Before launching in Tokyo in March 2018, And Coffee Roasters had already made a name for itself in Kumamoto, Kyushu. Operating out of a coffee stand in the Hibiya Central Market complex, the roaster keeps things focused with a handful of hot and cold drinks — all tinged with a sharper, more sour taste.
1-1-2 Hibiya, Chiyoda; hibiya-central-market.jp
. . .
Tokyo coffee connoisseur Eric Tessier gives us the lowdown on Tokyo’s coffee culture
What’s happening in the scene?
Eric: It seems that Tokyo’s “barista boom” has come to a close. A couple of years ago there was a new café opening every week, but things have begun to slow down. What coffee lovers are on the lookout for now is how the specialty coffee culture will spread throughout the rest of Japan. Will it be organic or will Tokyo brands give it a push? Already, Kichijoji’s Light Up Coffee has expanded to Kyoto.
What should people keep an eye on?
Eric: Onibus Coffee is remodeling their original location in Okusawa. They’re one of the most ambitious coffee operations in Tokyo and I’m excited to see how they grow and improve.
What’s your forecast for Japanese coffee?
Eric: The future of coffee is in agriculture. Buyers, producers and farmers are working to improve how coffee is grown and processed. A roaster or a barista can only do so much when it comes to presenting coffee in its finest form. If the actual product isn’t raised, picked and processed carefully, it will never reach its full potential. The industry is asking more from the people responsible for coffee at its first stage.
This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Smile magazine.