You can find Laforet at the intersection where Harajuku bleeds into Omotesando—an area where shopping centers stand tall, and smaller boutiques hide in backstreets behind flagship stores for major international brands. Laforet is seven floors of fashion—boutiques and brands the names of which baffle and enchant—largely aimed at young women, in a staggered floor design that feels equal parts charming and confusing.
It’s a mesh of youth culture with bright, diverse fashion styles and unique architecture.
And now, courtesy of The Cup, it’s caffeinated.
The Cup, produced by The Coffeeshop and opened in mid-June of this year, hopes to introduce youth to specialty drinks—the idea that with careful attention to source, process, and extraction, the cup itself becomes a medium for a new experience. To this end, The Cup offers three choices—coffee, cocoa, and tea—and does so in a manner that is accessible, enjoyable, and unique for selection.
The corner-side layout leads with a front register area and blends into a long counter, stretching towards tables and a long sofa. The current lineup of coffee, chocolate, and tea sits front and center, the clear jars drawing wandering eyes and curious onlookers. At the end of the counter sits a bare counter space—it’s here that the coffees are brewed, and the drinks are served.
It’s a simple, subtle display made approachable by warm lighting, friendly staff, and a disarming, smiley-faced design.
The coffee at The Cup comes courtesy of Roast Works, The Coffeeshop’s own dedicated roastery. The current selection is Ethiopia Sidamo Shakisso, Brazil Paraiso, and a dark house blend. Available hot or iced, these are served in true Coffeeshop style—straight.
Cocoa drinks at The Cup showcase Askinosie chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolatier group based in Missouri. Rarely seen here in Tokyo, the Askinosie selection is made up of chocolate from Honduras, Tanzania, and Ecuador, and can be tasted in hot or iced chocolate beverages, or bought in bar form.
And, as for tea, the selection at The Cup comes from Far Leaves Tea in San Francisco, with choices of the breakfast blend, Earl Grey, apricot, and blood orange.
It’s a surprisingly high-quality, international lineup, and one that stands somewhat in contrast to the flashy, fashionable area it inhabits. And yet somehow, it’s a snug fit. Store manager Yumie Yokoi says that making it accessible is the whole point. “Specialty coffee still isn’t very well known, and we want as many people to enjoy it as possible. And through coffee, tea, and cacao, we can build interest around specialty. We can bring people that one delicious cup. Our happiness comes from seeing people discover and experience that.”
I order a cup of the Ethiopia, and watch shoppers lining up for ice cream, burritos, fancy french fries, and crepes. I see many of these shoppers eye The Cup with fleeting curiosity. It’s like they’re unsure of how to approach the store with its coffee and desserts, but are entranced all the same.
In this sense, this new Coffeeshop project feels like a small stone dropped in the corner of a wildly trendy and well-dressed pond. But there are ripples there, spreading out gently through Harajuku, and I think the fun part now will be seeing how far they go.