Michael Jordan once said, “Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
It’s simple advice. Good advice. And yet, surprisingly difficult to follow.
It’s one of those things I have to remind myself every time summer rolls around.
And it was the discovery of the above quote that kick-started my journey through the world of summer-time desserts. A search for answers to the Tokyo heat and humidity. I went from swanky Harajuku storefronts and washoku-styled kakigori (shaved ice) to neighborhood hideouts and homemade fruit sodas. I looked at what the kissaten had to offer. Tried parfaits, pudding, cake. I ate convenience store ice cream. All of it.
I went wherever I could. I tried anything cold. I went straight for what looked refreshing. I craved anything that promised a moment of respite.
And among these, I found something special. I found it hidden down a side street in Nihonbashi—a unique combination of sweet, refreshing, energizing, and relaxing.
It was ice cream and coffee at Mighty Steps Coffee Stop.
The Mighty Steps space is small, simple, and stylish. There’s a concrete counter, and concrete floors. Two sofas along the wall. Magazines stacked on small tables. There’s an old record player at the back. On the counter, baked goods sit in a wooden display case, next to the grinder and espresso machine. Single-origin coffee beans sit neatly in jars at the back, above which are two blackboards. “Your dessert, our mission,” says one. The other, “Anytime good coffee.”
I’m told it’s designed around the image of a casual hotel lobby.
Owner Yasuo Ishii says the name, Mighty Steps Coffee Stop, is a combination of meanings. “Mighty” meaning the strongest or the best, and “Steps” symbolizing the climb to get there. And “Coffee Stop”? That part symbolizes a humble desire for the coffee they brew to bring passersby to a stop.
The name plays into the Mighty Steps concept of anytime coffee—the idea that specialty coffee is a drink to enjoy at any time of day. Morning, afternoon, night—there’s a good cup of coffee for all of these times, Ishii says. He just wants to share it.
Ishii’s interest in coffee started three years ago, and blossomed upon discovering Arise Coffee Roasters in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa. For Ishii, the interest stems from his interest in wine, and the similarities between the two. After learning the craft, he wanted to share it. This, he says, was the motivation behind his choice of location. Nihonbashi is a place he loves. Setting up shop here means doing the thing he likes, in the place he likes.
It’s wonderfully simple.
The ice cream is hard to resist. Pistachio, raspberry, salted caramel, mascarpone, milk coffee. It’s French, Ishii says. Organic. He found it through his restaurant connections. That’s as much as he’ll tell me. The ice cream/coffee combination exploded, he says, and since opening a year ago, a simple scoop of ice cream by a mug of single-origin coffee has become the Mighty Steps standard.
The combination feels right. It makes sense.
I sit back on the sofa. I watch people come in to chat, or stop by the to-go window, and then I look at the ice cream and the coffee before me, and I think, “This is what summer is. Coffee. Ice cream. Goodness.”
Outside it’s hot. And it’ll be that way for a while yet. But here at Mighty Steps, I have a moment of escape. One that doesn’t forget the heat, but rather prospers because of it. That’s the perfect dessert—one that encapsulates the feel of a season. And when it goes with coffee? You have yourself a winner.
I feel smug. Satisfied. Perhaps even mighty. I turned the summer's negatives into the best kind of positive.