12 Best Cafes in Japan: My Top Picks

best cafes in japan

I’ve always heard great things about the coffee culture of Japan, along with all the specialty coffee gear that comes from this great nation known for its ‘Kaizen’.

I was lucky to visit some of the best cafes in Japan during my travels there, which I hope you also have the chance to enjoy as well.

Below are my videos and the transcriptions from each cafe to get an inside look before visiting.


Cafe De LeAmbre, Tokyo, Japan

Transcript

Hello, Tim coming to you again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV. I’m with Pi Yao, and Matt in Tokyo, Japan. We’re at an awesome cafe called Cafe De LeAmbre.

This place is traditional and authentic. It’s old school. They do things differently from modern, hipster-style cafes.

What’s unique about this place is that they store their green beans for a lengthy amount of time. The one I tried was a Mexican Coffee. I don’t know the variety (they don’t know the variety), but it’s from 1976.

Very interesting flavors. I can’t pinpoint anything outstanding about it but something that’s 30 years old is worth a try.

Tim, coming to you from Tokyo, Japan. Peace Out.


% Arabica | Kyoto Japan

After first visiting % Arabica in Hong Kong, I was stoked with the opportunity to check them out in Kyoto..

Having 2 Slayer espresso machines and a Tornado roaster they pump out some pretty amazing coffee! Super impressed with what these % Arabica do.

Transcript

Hello,

Tim is coming to you again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV.

Listen up. I’m here at the % Arabica, Japan. This cafe rocks.

They have the Slayer machine as they’re the official distributors for Slayer machines in Japan. For all good reasons, they’re the Rolls Royce of espresso machines.

I was about to have a drip coffee, but they told me to have an espresso instead. I’m glad for this because there’s a Slayer machine here.

Anyway, I had a Honduras-Guatemala type beam variety. Like I tell you, it was unbelievable. The extraction they produced was on the mark. If you check out Instagram, you’ll see a video I took of the process.

I can’t rave enough about how good the espresso was. There are only a couple of times I’ve had a good espresso in my life. One was from the Spirit machine made in Holland.

It was in a place in Chiang Mai. They had bean varieties from Melbourne. The best coffee I tried was in Hong Kong, in August last year. That cafe has branches around the world.

The guy who owns this cafe is a successful businessman., so he has invested a lot of money in coffee.

He’s got investments here in Kyoto, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates. He also has a Kona farm in Hawaii. He distributes Slayers and has cafes around the world.

The baristas here are fantastic at what they do. And that’s another extraordinary thing. They’ve got a tornado roasting machine that can roast beans within 15 or 20 minutes. It prepares up to 100 grams of beans. They computerize everything and are accurate every time.

If you’re a purist, you might like their style. But I am on the fringe and prefer things hand done. It highlights the craftsmanship and gives the taste of proper, hand-roasted coffee. But hey, I like the best of both worlds.

Thanks for tuning in again to Coffee Geek TV. If you want to reach out to me, subscribe below or check out the information below this video.


Vermillion Cafe | Kyoto Japan

Really loved the owner and barista of Vermillion cafe.. Positioned perfectly for the foot traffic from Fushimi Inari and Araki Shrine’s. Great place to enjoy the scenery from the shrine hike.

Transcript

Hey there, it’s Tim again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV. I’m here at a new cafe called Vermillion in the Fushimi Inari shrine in Japan.

If you’re doing a bit of sightseeing and want to grab something, this is a brilliant espresso bar.

They use the beans from the Weekender’s Cafe, which you may know from my last video. You know that you’re going to get super quality beans and reasonably priced coffee.

If you’re in the area, come and check it out. Tim again, from Coffee Geek TV. Peace out.


Weekenders Coffee Roastery | Kyoto Japan

Weekenders Coffee was a pleasant discovery about a 15-minute walk from the hostel I was staying in. The cafe and roaster was located upstairs set in a very simple yet funky layout.

I loved their ‘Cherry Blueberry’ flavored Ethiopian Single Origin Yirgacheffe coffee so much I returned the next day for more coffee and buy some beans too. The owners are super friendly and helpful also… Check them out.

Transcript

Hello, it’s Tim coming to you again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV.

Here I am in Kyoto Japan. I just stepped out, just trying to find any coffee. I heard about a coffee shop down the road, but it is not open because it’s Sunday here.

I read a review about it. Someone complained that they could not use WIFI, but I have no qualms with that. It depends on what you want.

I think that if you are looking for the experience, it’s best that you put the computer away. If you are looking to do work, go to a cafe like Starbucks where you can get it done.

I am a place called Weekenders after reading a review. Reviewers touted it as the best place to hang out. It’s more of an experience bar.

You can see a stand-up bar and a counter with a barista. Behind me is a counter with a Provac. There is someone over here who has got his laptop out, following one of these roasting profiles.

They have an excellent selection of roasts. The beans come from around the world. They include Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya and other blends.

They grind the beans and put them in little jars, which is a fantastic idea. I swayed towards the Ethiopian blend because it has these beautiful, fruity aromas.

I taste blueberries and strawberries. I’m partial towards sweet coffee, and I like full-bodied stuff. There is a bit of caramelization there too.

This blend is beautiful. Tim, coming to you again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV.


Takamura Wine and Coffee Roasters | Osaka Japan

This place brought both my beverage passions together – Coffee and Wine.. I place reminded my of the local alcohol shop in Australia called Dan Murphy’s but with a twist.. a built-in coffee roaster..

Although a little walk from the Metro, it was worth the visit to experience both of my sensory backgrounds under the one roof.

The upstairs mezzanine of Takamura provided a great ambiance. They also have mini Aeropress competitions too.

Transcript

Hi Coffee Geeks,

I’m Tim coming to you again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV. I’ve arrived in Osaka, Japan. After I dropped my bags at the guest house, I came to this place I learned of called Takamura Wine and Coffee Roasters.

I’m upstairs at the moment in this fantastic cafe. What I love is that it has combined both my worlds. One is my background in wine and the other is my new love for coffee.

Let me give you a quick overview of my wine background. I used to work in the wine industry and lived near the wine regions of Australia and used to drink a lot of it.

Since moving to Thailand, I’ve found it expensive. and don’t drink as much wine as I used to. The range is limited and the price,not satisfactory as well. That overlapped into coffee and made me to continue to train my palate.

This place is fantastic. Let me give you a quick tour. I’m going to walk down the stairs. Takamura Coffee is rocking. It has got the best range of wines you can imagine.

It’s huge and reminds of Dan Murphy’s in Australia. The best feature of this place is the drip bar, where the cafe starts from.

They have got a humdinger of a roaster back here. If I could own a cafe it would be something like this because it brings both my worlds together.

Come and try this place. Once again, it is Takamura Wine and Coffee Roasters.


Cafe Cereza | Osu Nagoya | Japan

The owner, Masahiro, on this occasion was so kind to allow me to sample some of his other coffees he had available. The Single Origin Kilimanjaro was the most interesting.

The generosity and style of Masahiro and the ambiance he has created is beyond measure. I can not speak highly enough of Masahiro… and although we couldn’t communicate due to the language barrier, we definitely connected on a deep level…

Since this video, in late April we have stayed in touch and exchange coffee gifts across the East and South China Seas whether it be coffee beans or Cold Brew.. Cafe Cereza will be the first place I return to when visiting Nagoya again.

So a HUGE shout out to Masahiro… Check out his cafe. Be prepared not to use your phone, take your laptop or your kids! This place is for you and your senses alone.. Enjoy part 1 of 2 videos.

Transcript

Hi, It’s Tim coming to you with another episode of Coffee Geek TV. You have to be quiet. I’m at a beautiful place called Cafe Cereza, in Osu of Nagoya, Japan.

This cafe is a fancy place to come to for coffee. On the left, we’ve got an *African Kilimanjaro and on the right is a ^Hawaiian Kona. It’s about $40 AUS a cup, but the Barista is taking uncompromising care in brewing it, so it just blooms perfectly.

This place is about the experience and making high tea for coffee. It is unique and perfect.

One thing that is different about the Barista’s brewing process is that he did not wet the paper first. So we will see how the flavor will turn out. He is using a Kalita style as opposed to the Hario V60.

Definition:

1. African Kilimanjaro: Coffee made with beans from fields near Mt. Kilimanjaro.

2. Hawaiian Kona: Hawaiian Kona is a coffee made with coffee beans grown on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa.

3. Gallate Coffee:Coffee brewed with the catechin EGCG, or Epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant

You come to Cafe Cereza purely for an experience as this place is definitely a one of a kind… By far and wide it is the best pour over coffee I’ve had in my life…

In this video we conduct a small scientific experiment as Masahiro demonstrates the importance of balancing the PH levels in your water for ultimate body and balance.


Glitch Coffee and Roasters | Tokyo Japan

Glitch Coffee and Roasters was the best place I had an Espresso in Japan. All I have to say is that this cafe not to be missed when hopping around Tokyo! The owner was super definitely a coffee geek as I saw him throw out the first espresso he made for me.

BTW – Sorry I didn’t get the Ethiopian bean variety in the end…

Transcript

Hey Coffee Geeks, welcome to another episode of Coffee Geek TV. I’m Tim, still feeling under the weather, but I’ve perked up a bit because I’ve just had a fabulous espresso.

I’ve switched things up a bit because I love having pourovers. There is no barrier on coffee except Instant three-in-ones.

Glitch Coffee has got a funky, artisan feel.

I’ve got to tell you about this amazing espresso. It didn’t last very long. It was a fantastic Ethiopian bean coffee.

The owner of this place just walked by and had a look at my reaction. He asked what I was thinking, and I said that it was excellent.

I was watching him from afar. He made two brews. He didn’t seem happy with the first, but the second got his stamp of approval. He puts immense care and passion into what he does. I enjoyed it.

If you want to reach out, my details are below. You can also hit the subscribe button. We can catch up online or get geeked out together.

If you want to reach out, my details are below. You can also hit the subscribe button. We can catch up online, and get geeked out together. Tim, coming to you from Glitch Cafe.


VERVE COFFEE ROASTERS | Shinjuku Station Tokyo Japan

Despite being quite ill, Nothing was going to hold me back from venturing out to hit the cafe up in Tokyo…

Verve Coffee Roasters at Shinjuku Station Toyko Japan had only open a week or so before I got there and already they were doing a roaring trade being located in the heavy foot traffic location of the train stations new extension.

Keeping in true Verve style the cafe has a similar look and feel as Santa Cruz but with a Japanese influence of course..

I also had the honor of meeting the Head of Barista Training – Edward O’Hickey – Awesome dude.. loved jiving and geeking out with him..

This cafe is worth tracking to find.. Big Thanks for my good friend Jen from the Little Black Drink for the last minute Sprudge article heads up and letting me know of the new cafe opening!

Transcript

Hello, this is Tim coming to you again from Coffee Geek TV. Listen, I’m a little under the weather, Taken one for the team right now. So I apologise in advance if I am a bit nasal. My minds a bit all over the place.

I have literally just found out about this place called Verve. I’ve come this way after being tagged in sprudge.com.

My good Friend, Jen, who lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia who came across the article and mentioned I was just in time to visit the cafe, I said “awesome.” She is a good friend and a fellow coffee geek So, a big shout-out to you, Jen.

Verve started in Santa Cruz, California. The owners came to Tokyo to set up cafe outlets. They have American influences, but still retain their Japanese feel and culture.

This outlet is located at the Shinjuku station near the new south entrance. You must make sure that you come go all the way to the other end of the station. This station is the busiest place I’ve been to in my life.

It’s worth coming out here because these guys are fine tuning everything they do. They have kept their pour over down to three coffees.

There is the Alexander Martinez from Honduras, the Karogoto from Kenya and the Elida Estate Green Tip Geisha. I am drinking the Kenyan coffee at the moment.

I’d prefer the coffee not to be in paper cups which distort its taste. But I’m not complaining. I think that they’ve done very well. The coffee has fruity elements, and they pour very nice portions. If you are ever in Tokyo, do check out this place.

If you want to reach out or are a fellow Coffee Geek, just subscribe below. I’m no expert, but I’m moving in that direction. I’m Tim, coming to you from Cofee Geek TV.

Keeping in true Verve style the cafe has a similar look and feel as Santa Cruz but with a Japanese influence of course.. I also had the honor of meeting the Head of Barista Training – Edward O’Hickey – Awesome dude.. loved jiving and geeking out with him..

This cafe is worth tracking to find.. Big Thanks for my good friend Jen from the Little Black Drink for the last minute Sprudge article heads up and letting me know of the new cafe opening!

If you want to reach out or are a fellow Coffee Geek, just subscribe below. I’m no expert, but I’m moving in that direction. I’m Tim, coming to you from Cofee Geek TV.


Switch Coffee | Toyko Japan

After meeting Yu and Nan at lunch and sharing my passion for coffee with them, their curiosity lead them to joining me at Switch Coffee to get their first experience of pour over… And it was a fine experience at that.

Transcript

It’s Tim, and new friends, Yu and Nana coming to you from Coffee Geek TV. We’re here at Switch Coffee. Here is Katz who is the pro-roaster with a Probat Roaster machine in the background.

We’re here drinking this beautiful Honduras Sschemi.

This particular variety has raspberry and dark chocolate notes. I just dragged Yu and Nana with me to Switch after having a lovely meal. We ended up having a lively discussion about coffee and getting geeked out.

This video will be a quick one because we have to run to the train station and these guys have to go to work. If you are in the Meguro area of Tokyo, check out Switch.

If you like these videos, follow them and subscribe below. Tim, from Coffee Geek TV. Peace out from me!


Onibus Coffee | Okusawa Tokyo Japan

I had a great experience at Onibus Coffee. Located only a short walk to the Okusawa station, this cafe was worth taking the trip to find.

The roaster and barista at that location where so friendly and cool.. allowing me to quiz them with their roasting techniques.

I was served a Costa Rican Pour Over which was quite sweet and citrus in flavor. Had some great fun with these guys. Can’t wait to see them again. You can also find them Onibus Coffee in Nakameguro.

Transcript

Hi guys,

It’s Tim, coming you again from Coffee Geek TV. Here I am at Omnibus Coffee, in the middle of a suburban area of Okusawa, Tokyo.

This little roaster is fantastic. It is quite well-known in this suburb for roasting and supplying beans.

I love these guys. They are up-and-coming coffee hipsters. The outstanding barista just brewed me an incredible cup of drip coffee.

What I am trying now is the Costa Rican Villa Saatchi. This blend is beautiful. It is sweet and has an intense orange flavor. The acidity carries across with the rind flavor.

It has a hint of green apple as well. The baristas say that it has a bit of musket in it too. In all, I like it. It has not been over or under-extracted. It is the Japanese being perfect as they usually are.

Here is Abanesca, who just dropped beans into a training roaster. I like how you use the computer to regulate the flow of the coffee. Hi from Abanesca and Hashimoto as well.

If you want to follow us here on Youtube, just hit subscribe. You may also hit the Read More button to view my social media details as well.


About Life Coffee Brewers | Shibuya Tokyo Japan

This was the first Cafe I ever visited in Tokyo Japan. It was a great experience straight off out of the gate to visit one of the most well-known cafe in Shibuya.

When you are in Tokyo next, do check out About Life Coffee Brewers! Its a great Hole-in-the-Wall style cafe and popular amongst the locals not forgetting to mention their global popularity.

Transcript

Hi, guys, this is Tim, coming to you from Coffee Geek TV. Here I am at About Life Coffee Brewers in Tokyo, in the Shibuya area. These guys process drip coffee.

I just got myself an Ethiopian variety. I can’t remember the name because it’s in Japanese, but it has sweet grape flavors and precise acidity.

It’s interesting sitting outside and not inside; I’m glad for good weather. My first impression of baristas in Tokyo is that they do everything with passion and finesse. This espresso is my first so far. I’m interested to see what the others are like as well.

So this is Tim coming to you from Tokyo. For those who like these videos, I have more stuff to come later. I will explain everything about brewing coffee, from a basic to an advanced level. 

Get in touch with me. Hit the read more button below and contact me via social media. We can connect over many amazing things.


Ultimate Coffee Bar

Hello,

Tim, coming to you again with another episode of Coffee Geek TV. Here I am at Unlimited Coffee in Tokyo, Japan. This coffee shop is going to be the last for this trip.

I love this place. I just came across it a couple of weeks ago with my good friend, Yao, again. We were wandering around one night and got lost. We then came across this coffee place.

So, we were here last night and tried some new cocktail-style coffees. I’m having what we call the Silverton, a very interesting v63 coffee.

What makes it fascinating is that it’s got this tiny tap. It’s almost like the hybrid of a cold brew with a hot paper filter. I’ve never seen this before. It’s a new brewing style coined by this Cafe.

I’m having a Rwandan coffee called Rudy clay ( I’m not sure – I’ll have to check the menu). The coffee will just drip into this little pot here. It will be fascinating to see what coffee flavor emerges.

To Wrap Up the Best Cafes in Japan

Did you visit any of the cafes mentioned? What did you think of them? Please leave a comment below and let us know if you have any favorite specialty coffee cafes you like to visit in Japan.

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