Tokyo and Good Coffee

If you know me at all, you will know this one thing - I love coffee.  Japan is not known for it's good coffee.  You kind of realise that when people talk about the pinnacle of good coffee being Starbucks.

I think most Japanese people don't actually like coffee at all.  They like the idea of coffee -- because it's in Hollywood movies and American dramas like Sex in the City -- and they like having a bit of space in a cafe to sleep or work or hold meetings, but they don't actually like the taste.

I'm pretty sure that's the whole Starbucks premise anyway - add so much sugary flavoured syrup to your coffee that you actually get rid of the coffee taste.

So it's hard to get a decent coffee in this town.  To make it worse, I drink latte.  I'm pretty sure that, if you like your coffee black or slightly milked, some of the little mum and pop coffee shops would be fantastic (and some, absolute hell) if you like your coffee of the non-espresso kind.

I do love watching them work with all the apparatus that looks like it's come from a science lab.

There are so many of these places around, and they aren't cheap, so here are some ways to tell if it's worth blowing 600 yen or so on a coffee:

  • The dude making the coffee, does he look like he takes pride in his work?  The photo above was from a cafe near my hostel in Osaka.  This guy made a mean cup of coffee and look at him - you can tell he takes his coffee seriously.
  • Do they have real milk?  Even if you drink your coffee black, an establishment that serves those plastic fake milks with their drinks obviously has low standards.
  • Does the place have that freshly brewed coffee smell?
For espresso, there are a few places around that do good coffee.  They are hard to find though.  There are a lot of reviews online that talk about "great" cafes - then rave about the wonderful pancakes or the great views.   That makes no sense to me.  A great cafe serves great coffee.  Everything else is nice to have but if the coffee is no good then it's hardly worth the bother.

Eco Farm Cafe - I went to this cafe on a date and fell in love - with the coffee.  

There are a couple of other places around that I'd also recommend but they don't have web sites or I don't have the name, I just know where they are.
Travelling soon? Make sure you check out my recommendations, all places I've personally stayed and would book again.
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