Spanning across bustling streets, meandering back alleys, and a patchwork of niche neighborhoods, Tokyo is a city to truly savor when it comes to coffee. Long-standing coffee location legacies, such as Omotesando and Yoyogi, intermingle with up-and-coming hot spots, like Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, ensuring that no matter where you are in Japan’s capital city, a decent cup of coffee is never too far away.
Modern Tokyo features a daunting variety of cafes, blending retro, old-style spaces (in the kissaten tradition) with cutting-edge cafes boasting a range of beans and brews. It’s a city with a deep-rooted history of exploration and a passion for precision, resulting in an endless amount of new cafes to discover. With a cityscape that’s ever-evolving, 2023 undoubtedly has already welcomed in a range of recently-opened cafes to proudly add to the existing repertoire. These five new cafes represent the newest of the new in Tokyo, a city that remains one of the world’s great cafe destinations.
The optimal location to grab a coffee before strolling through Yoyogi Park, Yoshida Coffee Sangubashi is the work of owner and barista Yoshiteru Yoshida, well-renowned in the Tokyo coffee community for his time spent brewing at Deus Ex Machina. After honing his skills at Deus, Yoshida has branched out to create his own cafe, a space that capably evokes the artistry and atmosphere of where he trained. Despite the store’s relative youth, it’s rapidly becoming a fan-favorite for Tokyoites craving high-quality coffee.
Yoshida’s menu is traditional, featuring expressos, hand drip, cold brew, and an assortment of daily fresh baked goods. Seating is limited in this minimalistic location, but the quality of coffee more than justifies a visit. Yoshida Coffee Sangubashi is open daily from 8am to 6pm.
Kitasando Kissa’s cafe concept is based on paying respect to the long-standing kissa culture in Japan. Kissaten were the original cafes in Japan, a phenomenon that arose after World War II as a comfortable, public space to listen to the latest tunes without having to invest in expensive record players or collecting LPs. They functioned as the watering holes of pop culture and cultural expression. Kitasando Kissa aims to revive the independent, social component of kissa in a contemporary setting.
An offshoot of Kitasando Coffee, a two-branch cafe with locations in upscale Omotesando and the counterculture capital Shimokitazawa, the Nihonbashi-based Kitasando Kissa places a stronger focus on Japanese inspirations. In addition to espresso-based offerings, Kitasando Kissa emphasizes the taste of high-end green tea in its extensive menu. Visitors can sip from a lively hand-drip blend while enjoying a decadent matcha pudding topped with rich cream.
Harajuku is a fashion haven, renowned for its winding side streets overflowing with designer clothing brands, independent art galleries, and an assortment of reputable cafes. One of the most recent coffee additions to Harajuku’s crowded streets is Hatto Coffee, which features coffee imported by Good Coffee Farms. In addition to the wide array of choices on the menu—which range from coffee-based drinks, tea, and alcohol to food-based items like hot dogs—Hatto Coffee is unique for the emphasis it places on fashion-forward thinking. Conjoined with the Hatto Creative Plaza, customers can observe 3D printing and automatic embroidery real-time through a glass window.
While the atmosphere is uber-minimalist, composed of concrete walls, grey tones, and simple wooden tables, the accessibility veers more to the maximalism side of the spectrum. A spacious environment with ample indoor seating, unlimited Wifi, an outdoor pet-friendly terrace, and an abundance of charging outlets, Hatto Coffee invites visitors to linger while in-store. It’s a refreshing break from the countless other cafes in the city that offer a sparse seat or two for a quick sit-and-sip, before urging in the next customers to fill the vacated spot.
The Mosque Coffee
Operated out of one of Tokyo’s most famous neighborhoods—the ever-trendy Shimokitazawa—The Mosque Coffee treats customers to inviting, aromatic flavor and coffee crafted the Turkish way. When making Turkish-style coffee, water and ground coffee are combined together into a wide-bottomed, metal pot called a cezve (also sometimes known as an ibrik). You can go traditional here—a crave pot burying the pot in hot sand, but he breaks from standard convention by offering infusions of bold flavors, like coconut and hazelnut. The store also has trail-blazed a signature iced Turkish coffee, an option normally nonexistent in Turkish cafes.
The Mosque Coffee got its start in the mobile coffee shop game, but now the owners have upgraded to a sit-down location. Now, customers can collapse into a chair after a hectic day of browsing vintage clothing and used vinyl records, surrounded by an eclectic mix of imported Turkish pots and furniture. The cafe is small yet comfortable, with seating both indoors and outdoors, and industrial cement walls decorated with posters highlighting famous destinations in Turkey.
OL La Cabina
A recent addition to Tokyo’s coffee scene, OL La Cabina combines a surprising mix of flavors and menu selections. With Norwegian beer, Mexican cuisine, and coffee, it’s safe to say that nowhere else in Tokyo can visitors sip on specialty coffee, nosh on a taco set, then finish up with an imported beer. Coffee is provided by the ever-famous Fuglen, a Norwegian coffee roaster that dominates the cafe culture in Tokyo with its popularity and uncompromising emphasis on quality. Likewise, the beer is sourced from Oslo Brewing, while La Cabina is a Mexican establishment whose chef has been previously featured on the Netflix show “All About Tacos.” This collaboration of well-established brands coming together to create a new venture has been a massive hit.
The space itself is stylish and airy, with walls composed entirely of windows to let the sunshine seep in. During warm weather, these windows can easily slide open to allow a comfortable breeze to waft through the space. Come during the day to enjoy a light roast latte, or stop by at night for a heartier meal.
Taylor Bond is a freelance journalist based in Tokyo. This is Taylor Bond’s first feature for Sprudge.