09 Jan 2020 in Food Culture
From 3D latte art to panoramic views of Mt.Fuji, discover our pick of Japan’s best cafés.
Japan may be associated with green tea, but the Japanese are also one of the world’s leading importers of coffee. Whether your favourite brew is a dark espresso or a frothy macchiato, you’re never far from a coffee outlet.
Vending machines sell it hot and cold, convenience stores sell it at all hours – and Japan is also home to some of the best and quirkiest coffee shops around.
Discover our pick of where to go when you’re next in need of coffee in Japan!
Coffee art in Tokyo
Looking for a coffee experience with a difference? Japan’s capital is full of them! Stay at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka and you’ll have your own coffee shop on site. This stylish urban hotel is a great base for discovering alternative Tokyo thanks to its local guides and casual vibe – which extends to the coffee shop in the reception area.
Fresh coffee is served all day, as well as original sweet treats, including Japanese-style pancakes (dorayaki) with fruit fillings. In the evening, the café doubles up as a bar.
From Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka, you can take the Yamanote line a few stops to Harajuku – where the tiny Reissue café has been crafting astonishing latte art since 2015. Order any milk-based drink and then put the resident artist’s talents to the test by requesting the image of your choice.
You can opt for flat 2D art or the more Instagram-friendly 3D art. The edible milk foam masterpieces will leave you marvelling.
For more latte art, head to the café at Nissan Crossing, the glamorous Ginza showroom of the Japanese carmaker. First, you’ll be photographed by staff. Next, a high-tech latte printer will render the image in steamed milk on top your coffee – with jaw-dropping detail and clarity.
Your final stop on the latte art tour of Tokyo? The Roar Coffee House and Roastery in Hatchobori. Here, steamed milk comes in full colour! Sit back and let the barista inject some polychromatic pizzazz to your cup.
Alternatively, if bean quality is your priority, you’re sure to appreciate Koffee Mameya. This Shibuya shop focuses on some 15 varieties of beans from a range of origins and roasted all over the world.
Bags are available for home brewing, but you can also order a cup at the counter – where you’ll be treated to the mastery of coffee guru Eiichi Kunitomo and his staff.
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Eiichi Kunitomo is considered the “godfather” of the Tokyo coffee scene after his successful pop-up experiment Omotesando Koffee. Travelers can now follow their cafeeine radars to find his new project, Toranoman Koffee, in the ultra-modern Mori Building. But don’t be intimidated by the godfather, his friendly staff offers “coffee counseling” sessions to anyone seized with indecision at the counter.
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Taking their time, they’ll guide you through the diverse beans and then carefully make the perfect cup in front of you.
Away from Tokyo, you can drink coffee with your feet in the sand. Quite literally at Sorano Beach Books & Cafe. Located on the top floor of Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Atami, this entire library-café is lined with boardwalks, white sand and beach recliners.
It’s exclusively open to guests of the hotel, situated just over an hour from Tokyo and a great base for exploring the beautiful Izu Peninsula. The relaxed beach vibe extends to the menu, featuring fresh fruit smoothies as well as coffee and green tea latte. And thanks to its hilltop setting, there are sweeping vistas of the city and Sagami bay.
Another prime panoramic beach café is opening May 20, 2020 on the main island of Okinawa. Set in the middle of an inlet surrounded by craggy cliffs, Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe offers terraced seating, allowing you to choose between shoreline sofas and panoramic seaview seats.
Greenery and rocks are intertwined with café furniture to create a spectacular setting for sipping fresh coffee.
Fuji coffee culture
If you’re staying at HOSHINOYA Fuji, you’ll have first-class views of Japan’s most famous peak from your room – and you can help yourself to complimentary coffee around the resort’s all-day bonfire.
Just a few minutes downhill, the town of Kawaguchi is home to a number of notable coffee houses.
Coffee connoisseurs should head to Cisco Coffee. Inspired by the third wave of coffee, its menu covers everything from organic to limited-edition flavours.
All beans are single origin and roasted by a famed San Francisco roastery. Alternatively, head to the book café TABiLiON to sip new crop coffee while browsing English books from the shelves.
Two other Kawaguchi coffee houses are worth visiting for their bread. Bakery Cafe Esola is famed for its 120 types of bread baked using lava from Mount Fuji, while Lake Bake Studio crafts a walnut and raisin “Aged Bun” made with wine yeast aged for 10 days.