The novelty of coffee-in-a-can or a do-it-yourself 7-Eleven coffee is great when you first arrive in Japan, but after a while, you might find yourself craving a real, satisfying caffeine hit. While upgrading to the ever-present and always consistent Starbucks (affectionately called sutaba in Japanese) might be an attractive option, an iced matcha frappuccino with extra cream is not for everyone.
For those who would like a little more than the chain cafe experience (despite Dotour and Tully's Coffee being reasonably priced and easily accessible), thankfully, top-quality espresso and third-wave coffee culture is well on the rise. For easygoing Tokyo cafe vibes, our guide to the best Tokyo cafes and roasteries features seven great options.
7 Tokyo Cafes and Roasteries with Killer Coffee
Here are some of our favorite roasteries and coffee shops in Tokyo!
- Blue Bottle Coffee, Roppongi
- Sarutahiko Coffee Flagship Store, Ebisu
- METoA Cafe & Kitchen, Ginza
- Verve Coffee Roasters, Shinjuku
- Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro
- MONKEY CAFE D.K.Y., Daikanyama
- Kabuki Kissaten, Asakusa
1. Blue Bottle Coffee, Roppongi
With the science of a perfect brew down to a fine art, Blue Bottle Coffee has been making waves in recent years with their hand-dripped coffee. Originally a California coffee roastery, it has since expanded across the globe and focuses on single-origin sustainable coffee.
The Roppongi store is tucked underneath a towering skyscraper, encased by floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a sleek but minimal, open linden wood design. You make your purchase on an iPad, typing in your order and name, which the staff will call out once it’s your turn. They'll pour your expertly frothed milk in front of you, which you can enjoy with a six-ingredient sandwich, a nod to the Roppongi (meaning "six trees") area. They also sell some sweets, take-home coffee products, and Blue Bottle merch.
Blue Bottle has a few other locations around the city such as Aoyama and Shinagawa.
2. Sarutahiko Coffee Flagship Store, Ebisu
Ebisu is home to the flagship store for specialty coffee maker, Sarutahiko. With an aim to bring a smile to your cafe with each cup, Surutakiho’s coffee is delicious and the staff are extremely friendly. They sell carefully-selected single-origin beans and special blends, iced and hot, as well as a delicious brew of espresso. Their lattes are lovely, but be warned, they are large, and Sarutahiko's drip coffee serves are pretty generous too. Also, while it may not be coffee, the intense green matcha lattes are also worth a try if you're a fan of green tea.
The branch in Sengawa features broad windows and two floors, while if you’re heading down towards the Kanagawa area, the Musashi-Kosugi store has velvet cushions and smooth jazz to accompany your leisurely brew. And, the staff there go above and beyond, even escorting you out the door to bow to you as you leave. Some stores also sell a small menu including pancakes and Tiki Taka gourmet ice cream if you like something sweet with your coffee.
3. METoA Cafe & Kitchen, Ginza
Located on the first floor of the stunning METoA building in Ginza, the METoA Cafe & Kitchen is an Australian-inspired Tokyo cafe that makes a truly awesome cup of coffee. It is the resident cafe and restaurant of Mitsubishi Electric’s interactive technology showrooms, which occupy the two floors above.
With beans supplied by the New Zealand-born Allpress Coffee Roastery, roasted locally in the upcoming coffee capital of Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, they serve a serious espresso along with a beautiful lunch and dinner menu. With a focus on food that is both delicious and nutritious, there is a special set meal price that includes coffee.
Featuring a long wooden table great for groups, enjoy the modern cafe design and spectacular main meals, followed by a gorgeous latte and a wild selection of colorful desserts.
4. Verve Coffee Roasters, Shinjuku
With plants hanging from the ceiling, Verve in Shinjuku is all cool white tiles and sleek counters and stools; it’s a modest space that is as hip as its coffee is delicious. Born in Santa Cruz, California, this trendy coffee company not only produces excellent espresso but believes in sustainable, fair-trade coffee.
With an easygoing and upbeat atmosphere, you’ll find delicious coffee options including paper drip and nitro cold brew, alongside espresso from an impressive custom-made machine.
Verve Coffee Roasters also have another store casually brewing in the trendy area of Omotesando. Both sell a variety of beans and merch to take home for those who are keen coffee enthusiasts, as well as some stellar donuts.
5. Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro
Onibus aims to connect people through coffee, and they do it with a welcoming vibe and rich house-roasted beans. Head upstairs to the second floor where you’ll find a cozy terrace cafe space, decorated with plants and featuring one huge Diedrich Roaster inside. With just 12 seats inside, the menu is as compact as the tiny Tokyo cafe itself: grab an espresso, americano, latte, or hand drip coffee.
Their name comes from the Portuguese word meaning “public bus”, a bus that connects people by driving them between neighborhoods. This Tokyo cafe comes from a holistic collaborative design: their wall art and special cups are produced by local makers, and the wall tiles come from a central pottery town in Japan. There are standing counters to sip your coffee as well as some outdoor seats to enjoy one of Tokyo’s best brews with a view of trains rumbling by. Onibus is one of four sister branches dotted along the neighborhoods from trendy Nakameguro through to the residential Okusawa store, building a community through coffee.
6. MONKEY CAFE D.K.Y., Daikanyama
You cannot miss Monkey Cafe in its very impressive stand-alone building, with its exterior of wood and windows twisting towards the upper floor gallery space. The bright, spacious, and unusual architecture emerges starkly from the surrounding greenery, and its modern design is trendy, as to be expected in Daikanyama. And, good news, this Tokyo cafe doesn't sacrifice its coffee standard in favor of appearance.
The open wooden interior space curves up across different levels, where you can sit back and enjoy an awesome hand-dripped coffee with a creative atmosphere. Their blend coffee changes monthly, while at Monkey they also make a delicious espresso latte and creamy mocha as well. Selling a few sweets and some merch from local artists, they also have generous servings of artisanal gelato and a particularly impressive affogato. And of course, all served by extra pleasant staff.
7. Kabuki, Asakusa
Note: Editor’s pick; added 9/14/2022
When covering the topic of Japanese cafes, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include a kissaten, a style of coffee shop that was popularized in the Showa era during a time of Westernization. While inspired by European cafes, the character of these coffee shops and attention to detail is undeniably Japanese.
Kabuki is a more modern and minimalist take on the kissaten, with a special reverence for the art of coffee making. Not the kind of place for the clacking keys of remote workers, but rather the place to come with a book or journal in hand, to sip slowly and appreciate the flavors of the beans without modern distractions.
Check out our firsthand experience visiting Kabuki Kissaten in Asakusa for a full review.
With a variety of different brewing techniques and locally roasted beans, Tokyo cafes and roasteries are cultivating a love of quality coffee, building on the longstanding Japanese kissaten culture. With a growing third-wave coffee scene, you can certainly find some of the best Tokyo cafes with killer coffee brewed throughout the city.
Join the coffee mania and read our post about Japan's biggest Starbucks, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Nakameguro!