Best Speciality Coffee Shops in Tokyo That Are Worth the Hype

Third Wave Coffee in Tokyo: Where to Get the Best Brew, According to Baristas

Where to get the best daily grind around this ever-exciting metropolis!

Honestly, is there anything that the Japanese can’t do? Or, to be more specific, is there anything great that you can’t find in its capital, Tokyo? From stunning centuries-old attractions to fascinating pop culture, this vast metropolis truly has it all! It’s no surprise that most travellers (who have already been there) keep coming back for more. And for the globetrotting coffee lover, the speciality coffee shops in Tokyo are definitely a factor! 

I have a friend who, when talking about previous trips to Tokyo, often says, “The goal is to drink coffee at a different location daily.” Though, if you’re caffeine-dependent like us, you probably won’t think this is an exaggeration — especially when it comes to third wave/speciality coffee. 

And so, we’ve put together a list of the best coffee shops in Tokyo that every coffee fan should visit. Though, do take note that these aren’t gimmicky cafes with funky interiors. Instead, these places feature minimalist (but still IG-worthy) interiors, as to let their coffee, service, and expertise do the talking. From chic downtown spots to quaint stands tucked away in quiet neighbourhoods, here’s where you can experience the best of the Tokyo coffee scene!

Also read: 8 Hidden Benefits of Drinking Coffee Every Day, According to Science

1. Onibus Coffee

Onibus is actually the Portuguese word for “public bus,” which explains the brand’s mission to make coffee accessible and a way to connect different people. Its founder, Atsushi Saka, is well known in Japan for his passion for craftsmanship and quality coffee. Back in 2008, he went on a trip to Australia, where he was inspired by the local cafe scene and how it really does bring people together.

Onibus Coffee currently has three coffee shops in Tokyo: Okusama, Nakameguro, and Yakumo. The Okusama one is the OG store and right next to a train track, while the one in Yakumo is the newest. But the most popular would be the one in Nakameguro, which is inside a traditional Japanese house with a very #aesthetic al fresco area. Each store features a quaint, straightforward interior that matches the menu: espresso, americano, and hand drip — nothing more, nothing less. 

2. The Roastery by Nozy Coffee

The Roastery by Nozy Coffee is one of the coffee shops in Tokyo that values quality over quantity, as far as offerings go. In fact, it only has three espresso-based drinks: espresso, americano, and latte. However, all of these are made with single-origin beans, whose origins vary depending on the season and availability. 

For regulars, the ever-changing beans are a plus, as you’ll be able to study the differences for each coffee origin. For tourists dropping by, you can often choose between whatever two types of beans are on the roaster. They also hold weekly coffee cupping sessions, where you can learn more about speciality coffee! And while you’re at it, you might as well try the NY Rings, aka their own take on cronuts.

3.  The Local Coffee Stand

Ever since it opened back in 2016, The Local Coffee Stand quickly became one of the best coffee shops in Tokyo. They have a wide selection of drinks ranging from in-house blends to single-origin beans from around the world (including Japan). Oh, and a fun fact: Its founders are also the same guys behind the Tokyo Coffee Festival, which is usually held during spring and autumn. 

Situated along a Shibuya main road, its storefront is hard to miss: sleek typography in bright colours that’ll remind you of those cafés in indie films. Another cool thing about this place is the board showing what stage each coffee on order is at. There, you’ll see if the baristas are grinding the beans or already steaming the milk for your latte. For those who love art as much as they love coffee, the café is also a venue for showcased works by local independent artists! 

Also read: Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, and More: 8 Coolest Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo

4. Blue Bottle Coffee

Of course, you can’t leave out Blue Bottle. It’s one of the pioneers of the third wave coffee movement, after all! It has several branches scattered around Tokyo, so there’s really no excuse for you to not try it out (if you haven’t yet). For those who have already tried this somewhere else (like, say, in its homeland California), you’d know that this cafe is worth coming back to. 

The baristas brew your coffee right in front of you, which all the more adds to the experience. Sure, it might take a bit long, but the divine smell of roasting beans keeping you company sure helps. That, and the great taste and flavour, totally make up for all that waiting! We recommend the Gibraltar, which is actually the brainchild of their San Francisco counterpart. For delish bites, there’s the Egg Salad Sandwich, which is exclusive to Blue Bottle Japan! 

Also read: Where to Get the Best Coffee in San Francisco, According to Locals!

5. Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe

You’ll find Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe inside a former timber warehouse in the Kiyosumi Shirakawa neighbourhood. The brand hails from New Zealand and has set up shop in Tokyo a few years earlier than Blue Bottle. But even before that, Allpress has already been the go-to supplier of several third wave coffee shops in Japan, some even from the Kumamoto and Ibaraki prefectures.

Once you go inside, you’ll find that its cafe, roastery, and training facilities are all under one roof. More than just bridging the gap between creator and consumer, it also serves as an open invitation to learn the art of espresso-making. 

As for the coffee, we recommend their macchiato, flat white, and signature Allpress Espresso Blend. The latter is made up of four different origins: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, and Sumatra — making for a balanced yet complex brew. 

6. Arise Coffee Roasters

tokyo coffee

Image credit: ayanaxxbanana

Also located in the Kiyosumi Shirakawa area is Arise Coffee Roasters, which also happens to be in close proximity to Blue Bottle and Allpress Espresso. Together, these Tokyo coffee shops form a “coffee triangle” in the neighbourhood. Though, among the three, it was actually Arise that came first.

Arise is one of the coffee shops in Tokyo that’s well-loved by locals and travellers alike. Really, if you want to have a truly local experience, then this is your best bet! Behind the bar, you’ll find the owner, Taiju Hayashi, serving up top-notch brews and more than ready to talk all about it. 

Having been in the coffee industry for over a decade, his shop is decorated with items of personal interest — from skateboards to eccentric travel souvenirs. Coffee lovers are in for a thrill, as there are often 10 or more single-origin beans to choose from! And yes, each of these was sourced from various parts of the globe. Though, if you’d ask what the crowd fave is, that would be beans from the Dominican Republic. 

7. Fuglen

Cafe by day, cocktail bar by night, and vintage furniture boutique all year ‘round — this is probably how Fuglen stands out amidst many other spots in Shibuya. That said, it’s a great place to get your caffeine fix before exploring nearby attractions, like the Meiji Shrine, for instance! And don’t worry, it’s actually in the quieter part of Shibuya (about a 15-minute walk from the famous station), so you can definitely have your coffee in peace. 

Fuglen originally hails from Norway, and its name is the Norweigan word for “bird,” in case you were wondering! Delving away from the usual Tokyo coffee (i.e., dark roast), the Scandinavian approach is a mostly light roast with citrusy notes. Sure, it took a while for Fuglen to gain a following when it launched in 2012. But after capturing the attention of several editorial tastemakers, the hype over both Scandinavian coffee and design eventually caught on. 

8. Little Nap

Image credit: Jonathan Lin

Little Nap actually has two stores in Tokyo: One is a coffee stand beside Yoyogi Park, while the other is about a 10-minute walk from Shibuya Station. The former has a smaller space, but that’s okay; you can simply have your drink at the park while people-watching and even admiring the cherry blossoms (if you’re there during spring). Meanwhile, the latter serves as the roastery for their top-notch beans. Both have great music, too — probably thanks to the owner, Daisuke Hamada, who used to be a DJ. 

The menu consists of four seasonal single-origin drip coffee, as well as the usual espresso-based drinks. We recommend the house blend, which comes in espresso, macchiato, and Gibraltar. Though, if you want a longer drink, they serve pretty good lattes with equally good foam art, too! Little Nap is also known in the Tokyo coffee community for guiding other brands’ creative direction and operation. 

9. Switch Coffee

Before launching Switch Coffee in 2013, owner Masahiro Onishi honed his craft in Australia, where he trained under Toshiyuki Ishiwata: head roaster for the Melbourne-based Market Lane Coffee. But before that, Onishi spent his early years as a barista around Japan, focusing mostly on latte art. In fact, he even won second place at the Millrock Latte Art Championship back in 2010. 

Switch Coffee has two coffee shops in Tokyo: the original in Meguro and the second one in Yoyogi-Hachiman. Either way, both feature minimalist, no-frills decor, as to further emphasise the roasting and overall coffee experience. The menu is just as straightforward: drip coffee, latte, cappuccino, and two specials — espresso tonic and coffee-spirit mix. And while you’re at it, why not bring home some of their single-origin beans? For non-experts, you can ask the staff for brewing tips! After all, Onishi believes that with the right beans, home-brewed coffee can be just as great. 

10. 4/4 Seasons Coffee

Nestled in downtown Shinjuku is 4/4 Seasons Coffee, which is actually pronounced as “All Seasons Coffee.” Despite the bustling location, you’ll probably forget about the outside noise once you step inside. Its interior is dominantly white and wood, with an ambience that’s ideal for both relaxation and productivity. As for the coffee, their beans are sourced from about seven countries and then roasted in-store. 

Their signature brew is often a variation on the light roast that’s best enjoyed as a drip coffee. You can choose the brewing method for this, too; we recommend the Chemex for a simpler flavour and the V60 for a balanced taste! Oh, and you might want to pair that with yummy bites like the granola bowl and pizza toast. They also offer pastries like strawberry cream cakes, signature pudding, and banana cheesecake — all baked in-store, too! 

Also read: Shinjuku Food Guide: A Must-Eat List!

11. Unlimited Coffee Bar

The Tokyo Skytree is a futuristic structure set amidst the neighbourhood of Oshiage. It’s also one of the tallest towers in the world! But did you know that a stone’s throw away is a cafe that’s just as fascinating? Well, that would be Unlimited Coffee Bar! It was founded in 2015 by Daichi Matsubara and Rena Hirai, who are both renowned in the Tokyo coffee scene. After all, they’ve both been judges for barista championships (both in Japan and abroad) for about a decade now. 

Unlimited Coffee Bar functions both as a coffee shop and barista training ground. For Matsubara and Hirai, the goal is to mould their staff as ambassadors of the ever-growing speciality coffee movement in Japan. No wonder each cup brewed also serves as a mini-presentation for customers at the counter. 

For drinks with espresso and milk, the baristas would demo it right wherever you’re seated! It’s also one of the few coffee shops in Tokyo that offer coffee cocktails. We recommend the cold-brew gin & tonic and the espresso martini!

Also read: Tokyo Views: Top 8 Night Views in Japan’s Metropolitan City to Light Up Your Trip!

12. Iron Coffee

Are you the type who needs at least two cups of coffee to power through the day? Well then, Iron Coffee is your best bet! Customers’ second drinks are discounted by ¥100 (~S$1), so you might as well go for it, right? Set in the quiet suburban area of Gotokuji, it’s also arguably the most underrated among all the Tokyo coffee shops on this list. Though, you’ll probably pass by this stall if you’re headed to the popular Gotokuji Temple!

Unlike more popular speciality coffee spots, the flow of customers in Iron Coffee is more steady than bustling. And for owner Yuki Isono, that’s actually a good thing! So, why did he name it as such? Aside from the stall’s actual facade, Isono also likens it to the quality of iron: resilient, simple, and shows more personality over time. 

As for the drinks, we recommend the latte and Isono’s own affogato rendition: espresso and vanilla ice cream, topped with homemade almond tuile! It’s absolutely perf for hot summer days — but hey, who’s to say you can’t have it even during colder seasons?

13. Café Kitsuné

coffee shops in tokyo

Image credit: KC Castillo

Under the helm of French-Japanese fashion and music brand, Maison Kitsuné, this Tokyo coffee shop is as très chic as it gets. Indulge in a selection of freshly roasted coffee, French pastries, and Japanese dishes, while listening to their carefully curated playlist in the background. Don’t leave without trying the espressos, as well as baked goods like the famous fox-shaped cookie and dorayaki.  

There are currently two Café Kitsuné locations in the city: one in Aoyama and the other in Shibuya, both of which are iconic shopping spots. Both feature chic modern Japanese interiors that make them a hit, especially among the young adult crowd. Hence, it’s definitely a great pick if you need your dose of caffeine-meets-design post-retail therapy. And while you’re at it, you might wanna snag some of their cool merch as a souvenir, too! 

14. Verve Coffee Roasters

Verve Coffee Roasters is another Californian brand that made its way to the Land of the Rising Sun. In Tokyo, you can find their store directly above Shinjuku Station, aka one of the busiest transit hubs in the world. Bask in the frenetic urban energy as you watch trains rolling in and out, all while enjoying a delicious cuppa to fuel up for the day.

As with most third wave cafes in Tokyo, their espressos and pour-overs are the highlight. For the latter, you can take your pick among three types of single-origin beans, depending on the seasonal availability. But if you want something that you can’t find in any other Verve Coffee branch, then the Latte Valencia is your best bet! This signature latte features wildflower honey and squeezes of Valencia oranges, topped off with shaved orange peels. The combo might sound odd to some, but we think it’s worth a try!

Also read: 30 Useful Japanese Phrases You Need to Learn Before Travelling to Japan

Needless to say, this list has got us missing the Tokyo coffee scene! After all, there’s nothing like trying out a great brew made just for you.

That said, which of these third wave coffee shops in Tokyo are you most excited to visit? Or better yet, have you ever been to some of these already? Either way, we’d love to hear all about it! 

Facebook image credit (left and middle): Onibus Coffee Official Facebook Page; Unlimited Coffee Bar Official Facebook Page

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.