Tokyo Coffee Diary (ii)

Continuing from where I left off the last time...

[I am ashamed to say that this is almost four months late, and unfortunately my memory is fuzzy and my descriptions are not going to be as on point as they were for part (i) (here!), but I will try to recall everything as best as I can.]

6. Paddlers Coffee

So this was a chance visit. It was the kind of place on my coffee list but not on my 'die-die-must-go' list, but when my mom and I walked past it one sunny morning in Shibuya, we decided to check it out. I feel as though we spotted it by a stroke of luck; a little flag hanging off the side of a wall; a stand on the floor that said 'Paddlers Coffee'. Paddlers' is the only place outside of the USA that serves Stumptown Coffee, and having followed Stumptown's Instagram for quite a while, I was undeniably rather excited. 

Tucked in the corner on the second floor of a rather indie-looking shop (Todd Snyder, never heard of it until that day), Paddlers is tiny; unassuming even. Here, they only offer filter coffee, and you have a choice of three regions - Latin America, Africa and Indonesia - and a blend. We had the Indonesia, which came under the barista's recommendation as the "least acidic coffee" of the three. 


As it was my first time having proper filter coffee, I didn't quite know what to expect. The Indonesia was pleasant; earthy and dark. The coffee had a light mouthfeel, and I wondered if it was too diluted. That aside, it was quite refreshing. I felt a little bad though, as they didn't have any milk on them and my mom doesn't like her coffee black! We later found that they had recently opened a new branch that serves espresso in Nishihara, so if that's more your style, you can head there instead. 

Paddlers' Coffee
Todd Snyder Townhouse, 6-18-14, Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku
Nearest Station: Shibuya Station/Harajuku Station
Open 11am-7pm daily

2-26-5 Nishihara, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Yoyogi-Uehara
Open 7:30am-6pm daily

7. Turret Coffee


When you're googling the 'best coffee in Tokyo', a few big names come up. Omotesando Koffee. Bear Pond. Streamer. The list goes on. But of all the lists I've seen, Turret hardly makes an appearance on any, which I feel is completely unjustified, because Turret definitely ranks near the top of my list. Turret actually uses the same beans as that of Streamer's and the person who opened it used to work under Hiroshi Sawada at Streamer. However, I found that I enjoyed the coffee at Turret's a lot more than the one at Lattest -  maybe I should have gone to the original Streamer outlet instead. Anyway, this just shows the importance of the many variables involved in the making of coffee, and how the same beans can produce rather different cups of coffees. 

Turret's coffee had a wonderful balance of flavours, and the milk really allowed the dark notes of the coffee to shine instead of overpowering them. The coffee was not acidic in the least, which I liked very much. I highly recommend a trip to this place, especially after a trip to the Tsukiji fish market which is a 5-10 minute walk away! Oh, and did you know that turrets are actually the names of the trucks that deliver goods to and from the Tsukiji fish market? 

Turret Coffee

2-12-6 Tsukiji Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Tsukiji-Shio/Hibiya
Opening Hours: 
Mon-Sat 7am-6pm
Sun 12-6pm

8. About Life Coffee Brewers

I only just realised, but I'm not sure if the guy was posing for my camera. Anyway, I'm kind of upset that I didn't take any good pictures of this lovely little coffee stand in Shibuya, because it's so (instagrammable) adorable. This is pretty much a takeaway joint, and there are no seats save for a tiny bench outside the kiosk itself. My mom and I opted to drink our coffee on-the-go, which is not a very Tokyolite thing to do, but we did it anyway. 

The people here really seem to know their shit about coffee. I didn't get a chance to talk to them but I read a little article about them in Drift (volume 2), a wonderful publication about coffee and I was really quite impressed. What further impressed me, however, was my latte. I was initially a bit skeptical about their coffee as I had read somewhere that this was one of the few places in Tokyo that used a light roast for the beans. But what About Life did was show me that light roasts can be done, and when done right, they are a truly work of art. 

About Life Coffee Brewers
1-19-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Shibuya
Open daily 8:30am-8:30pm  

9. Omotesando Koffee [CLOSED] 

[edit (26/1/2016):  I just did a random google search and discovered that Omotesando has closed! My heart just broke into a million pieces. Toranomon Koffee is, thankfully, still up and running - but I will miss this quaint hideout very much.] 

The place is a little shed tucked away in a quiet street away from the busy streets of Shibuya and Harajuku. It feels like an entirely different world once you turn into the side streets, and when you step into Omotesando Koffee, you'd wonder if you are really in the city at all. Most of the seats are found in the garden, and the whole place exudes incredibly homely vibes. I would think "quaint" is the best word to describe this place. 

I was highly impressed by the fact that they had an automatic (??) tamper. And it's pretty genius, I don't know why most places don't seem to use one but it's such a good idea. It would really make all the coffees a lot more consistent. Consistent tamping probably wouldn't be much of a problem for such experienced baristas though, but it's the little things that count, right? 

The coffee was smooth, nothing mind-blowing, but good, and safe. The baked custard cube complemented the coffee rather well. It's something like a canele, and the crunchy, caramelised edges were divine. (P.s. do forgive my ugly thumbnail in the picture above.)

 Omotesando Koffee
4-15-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station: Omotesando
Open daily 10am-7pm

10. Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee is where I had one of my first experiences with specialty coffee. It was during a trip to San Fran in 2013. Unfortunately, I don't think I truly appreciated what I was drinking back then. All I remember thinking was that they had a really nice logo and that the queue was very long. I was very excited to hear that they had expanded to Asia, though, and to Tokyo at that! 

Their Tokyo outpost is huge. It's actually located on the second floor of a building, on top of a shop called Zucca - so don't get confused while you're looking at google maps. The design of the place is minimalistic, while the wood flooring gives it  a rustic feel, coupled with the greenery at the patio. They even have a whole section selling merchandise! 

Of course, I had to have a gibraltar as Blue Bottle is supposedly the place that invented it! A gibraltar is basically the in-between of a macchiato and a latte, somewhat similar to a piccolo. I distinctly remember that the coffee here was a lot sharper and brighter compared to most of the coffees I've had on the trip, and it had a fantastic mouthfeel. And just look at that latte art. The milk was done beautifully. 

My only regret was leaving this to the last day, because the brunch menu looked awesome and I would have loved to try their beignets but I was too stuffed from a morning of eating. But I'll make it back, I promise. Or to the SF branch. Somewhere, someday, somehow. 

Blue Bottle Coffee
3-13-14 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-0062
Nearest Station: Omotesando
Open daily from 10am-9pm