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Thread: Coffee in Japan

  1. #1
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    Coffee in Japan

    Japan can be challenging for the coffee snob, no question about that. One way of coping is to suspend your palate and enjoy the cultural experience of vending machines and 7-11s for the milky sugary brown treats within.

    I happily stumbled across The Basset Store (Paul Bassets joint) in Shinjuku, which is down a wee way from the Hilton. It was excitingly shocking to find they are roasting on premises and the Japanese baristas have their technique down pat - more macninic than flamboyant, but it was a really good coffee, they also sell green beans and all roasted coffee is tagged and bagged for consumer freshness.

    The last trip I made over I noticed a lot more machines and grinders in cafes, rather than automatic all in one Saeco style hell, so hopefully as the palates develop so will the offerings.

  2. #2
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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    so the PB store is just down from the Hilton? Bugger! Thats where I usually stay in Shinjuku so I must have looked in the wrong place or something.

    When I was there last the suggestion was to look out for Vac Pot bars, but I couldnt see one anywhere. I know they exist, just never found one.

  3. #3
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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    Weve just come back from a skiing holiday at a place called Shigakogen, which is near Nagano in the Central Mountains. The Saeco automatics are the only coffee machines that I could find up there and the coffee was really bad.

    Could be an opening for a boutique roaster I reackon. Just have to compete with the lovely hot chocolates.

    Cheers

  4. #4
    Senior Member redzone121's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    Any one been to Tokyo lately. Heading over end of July and while I will enjoy the super autos ;) has any one come across anything else more recently?

    Cheers Chris.

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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    speak to Yeeza - he did a LOT of shopping

  6. #6
    Senior Member redzone121's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    Yeah thanks Ben I have sent a PM to him but he must be busy (or ignoring me) ;D

    Chris

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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    Im heading over at the end of the year, and Ill make sure to pop into Pauls store.
    but theres another in tokyo that has taken my attention..
    Streamer Coffee, Shibuya, Tokyo. (GIYF)
    From the website, it looks like an alright spot for a cuppa, and well, it must be .. Gwilym Davies has been hanging out there lately.

    Bit OT, but ..
    Quote Originally Posted by 033B3A3F1E3230530 link=1224039526/2#2 date=1233223154
    skiing holiday at a place called Shigakogen
    the autospro might be horrible, but its the best skiing destination in Japan :D, my fav.

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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    Bit of a grave dig, but theres a little place called Bear Pond that is more than worth the detour - its only a few minutes out of shibuya (i think). a handful of very special signature drinks and a nice quiet atmosphere.

    http://www.bear-pond.com/

  9. #9
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    Re: Coffee in Japan

    Heres a great link to most of the better coffee bars there. Fuglen out of Oslo are opening up there soon too.
    http://www.timeout.jp/en/tokyo/feature/4934/Tokyos-best-coffee-shops
    I get to Tokyo pretty often to go to SCAJ and general coffee play.

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    I second Bear Pond, went there today, it's 2 stops on the train from Shinjuku, not far at all.

    Make sure the owner is working before going, the espresso is incredible, but only he serves the espresso shots, others can make Macchiato, Lattes.

    He's opened another store in Shibuya, Bear Pond No 8. I haven't got there yet, but no espresso is served as he doesn't work at that store, just Latte, Macchiato, etc.

    Paul Bassett's place is also pretty great.

    I picked up a Hario V60 and ceramic grinder while here too, have a go at pourover when I get home.

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    Bear Pond No 8 was great too. Had a Macchiato and single origin pourover. The place was more wife friendly, they do western style food and soft drinks.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lovey's Avatar
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    I'm heading over to Japan in January next year to do a spot of skiing with the family, at this stage we're looking at Hakuba. Does anyone have any recommendations for that area?
    Many thanks,
    Steve.

  13. #13
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    We were earlier this year to Hakuba, great for skiing but didn't stumble on any decent coffee places. They seem few and far between in Japan.

    Cheers

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    Coffee in Japan

    Hakuba is great, but I don't think I saw an espresso machine the whole time.

    As an earlier poster said - it's japan, get into the spirit and try the vending machine coffee in the little cans.

    The ones with a red button are hot and the blue button ones are served cold. Yes, from the same machine.


    I seem to recall Black Boss was one of the better brands.

    And while japan is not known for coffee, the local beer on tap is fantastic, as are some of their whiskies.

  15. #15
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Yep the food is amazing and the vending machines can provide a lucky dip of beverage/food when its all in Japanese and the pics don't really tell the story. Makes it all more fun!!

    On another note, seemed like hakuba has more aussies than locals.

    Cheers

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    Been meaning to update this thread. If you want a fantastic and authentic Kobe beef dining experience, make sure you get to this place.

    http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaur...ure_Chubu.html

    The chef is a big fat old guy, and the food is amazing. Highly recommended.

    They will collect you from your hotel in Hakuba and drop you home too

  17. #17
    Senior Member Lovey's Avatar
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    Just got back from our skiing trip at Hakuba, what a fantastic, beautiful place. Coffee wise, I found one cafe near the Hakuba train station called 'Bamboo cafe', the coffee was ok, but the food and service was top notch. There's more vending machines than you can poke a stick at and I hit them pretty hard while I was there. Drop a few coins in then a nice hot coffee in a can comes out a few seconds later, aahh bliss. I did go to Starbucks in Tokyo, but I found the coffee to lack any punch, very bland, but again, top notch service.
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  18. #18
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    If you are visiting Kyoto, look for Junichi Yamaguchi. You can find him in Facebook.

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    I'm about to head to Japan for a holiday and wondered if anyone has any more recent updates to add to this thread?

  20. #20
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _moby_ View Post
    I'm about to head to Japan for a holiday and wondered if anyone has any more recent updates to add to this thread?
    I'm pretty sure there was an article on Sprudge about this recently. May have been on Perfect Daily Grind, I can't remember so you might need to check both of them.
    Bear Pond used to be it for specialty coffee in Tokyo, but there's heaps of good options now and most of them aren't as out of the way as Bear Pond. My cousin is in the coffee industry and when he was in Tokyo just over a year ago he spent a day checking out all the top specialty coffee shops. He said most of them were really good. I think he just searched them on Beanhunter from memory.
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  21. #21
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    Coffee in Japan

    You've gotta try the canned stuff.

    Because: Japan.
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  22. #22
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    I did a month in Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagoya.

    All had pretty bad coffee, i wont lie. The canned stuff is really bad, Tullys, Starbucks etc its all really bad. Better than nothing but still. And i did drink alot of coffee there.
    That said i did goto a few private small cafes in Osaka and have a variety of coffees, the most memorible was some Jamaican Blue Mountains coffee for about 1000Y a cup, so at the time about $10. It was expensive but it was a mighty find brew.

    If you need quick snacks and eats goto the 7/11 type stores, get some rice balls wrapped in seaweed from the fridges for around 200Y or $2 each, good and filling when ur out and about.

  23. #23
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Love the 7/11 and other similar stores. Have everything from sashimi to steamed buns and everything in between, delicious and cheap.

    I found a fantastic coffee place when we stayed in Tokyo, Turret Coffee near Tsukiji station. Great tasting real coffee.

    Also came across a coffee store selling all sorts of coffee makers etc, can't recall where that was but think it was in Ginza.

    Cheers
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  24. #24
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    Thanks all. The links LeroyC noted provide some good options in the major cities. I'm there for a month as well so will need to hunt out some of the specialty coffee spots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Love the 7/11 and other similar stores. Have everything from sashimi to steamed buns and everything in between, delicious and cheap.

    I found a fantastic coffee place when we stayed in Tokyo, Turret Coffee near Tsukiji station. Great tasting real coffee.

    Also came across a coffee store selling all sorts of coffee makers etc, can't recall where that was but think it was in Ginza.

    Cheers
    Hit pay dirt at Turret Coffee on our first day. Went to the Tsukiji fish market which is about 1km from our hotel and after lunch I checked Beanhunter and Turret came up as being not only very close but also the No. 1 rated place in Tokyo.

    Their standard espresso is a triple ristretto. Was offered a choice of cup (thimble actually). It was pretty intense at the front but a revelation of deliciousness and aftertaste I was still enjoying for some considerable time.

    Quite possibly the most enjoyable coffee I've ever had!

    We also had a macchiato which came in a shot glass. Good things in small packages here! Highly recommended.

    A day or so later we tried Cafe de l'ambre which is famous for ageing green beans. The original owner who started this is now about 100 but still sitting in the shop which itself looks like it probably hasn't changed much since he started up in the late 1940's. The coffee is prepared through some kind of cloth filter. Not a style I normally drink so I don't really have much to compare it to. We had a 2004 Nicaraguan and 1993 Brazilian. Wasn't a fan of the later but the former was a beautiful cup. Clean, smooth and tasty. At about $11 a cup it was more an experience for the sake of it than a life changing experience, but having an interest in coffee it seemed hard not to give it a go.

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  26. #26
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Went through some pics and found the coffee store, it's Yamamoto Coffee in Shinjuku.

    IMG_2600.JPG

    IMG_2598.JPG

    And a couple of the yummy goodness from Turret Coffee:

    IMG_1935.JPG

    IMG_2621.JPG

    Makes my mouth water and want to go back!

    Cheers
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    After leaving Tokyo we spent a couple days in each of Kanazawa (good espresso at Curio Espresso and Vintage Design near the food market) and Takayama (nothing special but Coffee Don was passable) and then moved on to Kyoto where there seemed to be plenty of good options.

    The stand out was Kurasu which has a strong Australian connection as the owners lived in Australia for a time. Both baristas in the shop when we visited had as well and we had a good chat about favourite Melbourne cafes. Had a nice espresso, cold brew and really nice pour over (or hand drip) from the many options on offer. The cafe is near Kyoto station and definitely worth a visit.

    Likewise Weekenders Coffee which is hidden at the back of a small car park in the downtown area. Also tried %Arabica and Vermillion who have three cafes around the Fushimi Imari Shrine (a must visit tourist experience if you climb up the hill away from the crowds) with the main shop near the entrance. Only espresso here and I think they used beans from Weekenders.

    Now in Onomichi where the U2 complex in a converted warehouse on the dock includes the Yard Cafe where we got a good espresso and cold brew.

    Interestingly several of the hotels we have stayed at have had cold brew coffee and tea available with the selection of juices etc at the breakfast buffet. These have been very good.

    The hotel rooms also include a pour over style coffee bag which you open, hook on to the rim of your cup with a fold out cardboard frame and pour water into.







  28. #28
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    Hiroshima
    - for a decent sized city this seemed to be a desert for specialty coffee. Quite a bit of online searching only turned up one place, Obscura Coffee, which is a short walk East of the Peace Memorial Park and definitely worth a visit. As with a number of other places we came across in Japan, they provided numerous options of a blend and single origins to choose from. I think they might have had 8 options for both pour over and and cold brew and 4 for espresso.

    Miyajima
    - in complete contrast, this small island not far from Hiroshima had three or four decent coffee shops that seemed to be using local roasted beans. Miyajima Coffee and Saravasti both provided good espresso options and cold brew which was lovely after a warm day walking down the mountain.

    Naoshima and Teshima art islands
    - not much on offer here but we spotted a caf in Honomura port on Naoshima Island called Francoile which was an absolute gem. Small front counter set up rockin a Linea Mini and a tiny roaster in the front window. Excellent espresso and affogato (really good ice cream). Im loath to say best coffee on the island but I really think it would be.
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  29. #29
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    Osaka
    - this is the young, hip, party city of Japan and totally different to everywhere else in feel and attitude. One example is that youd be almost as likely to see a unicorn as someone crossing against a red pedestrian light anywhere else in Japan, but here it is rampant anarchy. We found a number of really good specialty coffee spots, which perhaps not surprisingly often had an Australian or New Zealand connection.
    - Coffee Roughnecks had the second best espresso of our trip here along with a good chat with the owner/barrista who had worked in New Zealand for a time. This, along with Mill Pour below, was open from 8am which didnt seem to be the standard for most places in Osaka.
    - Mill Pour tiny shop producing some quality espresso and the owner/barrista (working a long solo shift from 8am 7pm) had worked a stint in Australia.
    - Cafe tipo8 this is over near the Umeda Sky Building and drew us in with a whole wall of the building painted with English language signage about craft coffee. So we dropped in and had a nice espresso. Another shop with a roaster in the front room.
    - Lilo Coffee Roasters is rated highly in Beanhunter and was good but I preferred the others mentioned above. Note they are open from 11am 11pm so dont head there for an early coffee hit.

    Tokyo
    - back in Tokyo for a few hours before flying out we made a visit to Kappodashi kitchen street and tried February Caf for yet another good espresso and cold brew. Unfortunately didn't have time to get back to Turret for another visit.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  30. #30
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    Wow, when I was there 5 years ago I just resorted to the cold cans in 7-11

    I can definitely see artisan coffee taking off in Japan. They are meticulous with their food preparation.

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    Some of you may go visit the Ghibli museum. You may even crave a nice coffee after the long metro ride.

    I stumbled on this one by accident, queuing for the Tabelog-rated curry restaurant opposite, in a side street behind Kichijoji station, after my second, or was it third, Ghibli visit. I noticed the pourover being done properly, and the smell of fresh roasted coffee was quite a draw after a few days of cans from machines. He did take his sweet time pouring but it was worth it as the coffee was roasted and ground recently and well. Finished my cup just as we got our table.

    Name: ぷらす90ど which I think translates to "plus 90" as per their website: ROASTER CAFE (Google Translate the rest: "roaster coffee")
    Google Maps has it as: 2 Chome-17-2 Kichijōji Honchō, Musashino-shi, Tōkyō-to 180-0004, Japan
    https://goo.gl/maps/HjcL7g5syzS2

    (the curry was great. If you crave a homemade Japanese curry: 잝*-*Ɠ99%**|**gˎ*J[u܂ߑ v - まめ蔵 - you can't miss it, it has a queue on the outside with potted plants)

  32. #32
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    I have enjoyed reading this thread and have sold several handmade wooden part sets to Japan. Does anyone know if there are many popular Japanese coffee blogs for home coffee machine users etc ?

  33. #33
    Junior Member Alain's Avatar
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    Going to add a few more for Tokyo:


    Glitch - glitchcoffee.com - 1F 3-16 KANDA-NISHIKICHO CHIYODA-KU TOKYO 101-0054
    This place was one of the best coffee's I've had in Tokyo and easily my favourite during my travels in Japan. Tiny spot with a few inside tables with a roaster in action right next to them, with a bench outside for those needing more room.


    Toranomon Koffee - KOFFEE - 1 Chome-1-23 Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo 105-0001
    Not worth travelling out of your way for but if nearby, definitely worth a visit. Had a great few coffee's here. Located in the Toranomon Office Tower in an elevated foyer type space.

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