Japan: the best 'third wave' coffee bars
Updated: Apr 26
Most of you probably have heard about the 'Third Wave of Coffee', but for those who are not familiar with it, a short explanation follows :)
It's a movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisan or craft beverage like wine, rather than a commodity.
This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee plant growing, harvesting and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters.
Please click on the underlined name of the venue to get redirected to their website for business hours and location.
This cute little coffee store has some seats inside and a few outside on the covered terrace and is located on a quiet street in Omotesando area. They serve good coffee and you can choose from a couple of scones and cakes. I tried the white chocolate cranberry scone and it was very tasty. I do not like huge coffee bars with dozens of seats, so this one was right up my alley!
Nothing but love for this fantastic coffee bar! Onibus Coffee has got four branches in Tokyo and we've visited the one in Nakameguro area. They roast their own beans and you can choose form six types of coffee beans. It is literally situated 2 meters from the train track, but the sound of the rambling trains doesn't bother at all. By the way, Onibus borrows its name from Portugal’s public bus system, and draws inspiration from the idea of connecting people to each other and to build a community.
Maison Kitsuné was created in Paris in 2002 by Gildas Loaëc, a former manager of the French electronic music duo Daft Punk, and Masaya Kuroki, an architect.
The brand combines their interests for fashion, music and since 2013 coffee as well... So this is not a specific café where it's only about coffee, but still it's a nice place with a good vibe to visit at the heart of Minato-ku district. And if you like their fashion, you will find one of their beautiful stores just around the corner.
This café sits at a corner along the canal in Nakameguro area. I really liked this district because it is a quiet and green residential area with many local shops, cafés and restaurants. We sat outside on wooden stools and drank a well prepared coffee and ate crunchy savory sandwiches.
Here they want to maintain a blanc canvas, designing a space in which there is no preconceived concept. It's a charming spot situated on a corner in Hiroo district and it's nice to sit upstairs at the open window with a coffee in one hand and a donut in the other. Ahh, life is sweet :)
To be honest, I prefer a light and open space and this café looks quite dark and moody, but their single origin coffee is great! It was hard to choose from the different types of beans they have on offer. But you can take your time and smell them all before you make a choice. And because we liked it so much we've bought a bag of beans to take home with us to be able to think back to this amazing holiday with its fantastic coffee scene.
Good to know: every Wednesday between 18:00 and 19:00 they organize public cupping.
Along the train track close to Kamakura's train station you will find one of the café's from Dandelion Chocolate. It is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory originally from San Francisco. During the last years they have opened 3 locations in Japan. They have a little terrace outside, but we liked sitting upstairs where you have views over the small train station and a huge tree opposite of the café.
This wonderful hole in the wall coffee bar is fantastic! The staff was very friendly and I could sit for ours on their little wooden bench watching life pass by.
This is another good coffee bar where they roast their own coffee beans. The café is situated in a nice street close to the Peace Park where you can find many contemporary local retailers.
Our first stop in Kyoto was at Kurasu because it's a 5 minutes walk from the train station where we arrived by train from Osaka. I had read about Kurasu at home and was really looking forward to go there. Fortunately everything met my expectation, the coffee, the banana bread, the tableware... As we are big fans of making slow coffee at home we loved their wide variety of beautiful -made in Japan- coffee brewing items. So we bought a hand carved wooden coffee measure spoon to add to our collection :)
Where to start?
What a wonderful place! Every little detail was just absolutely perfect.
And yes, their coffee and cheese cake too :)
The brand Kaikado was established in 1875, shortly after Japan opened its doors to the rest of the world. They create hand-crafted copper, tin and brass caddies (containers) to store tea leaves or coffee beans. And as an addition they opened this café in 2016 where you can buy their products as well.
Just away from the hustle and bustle of the most famous food market in Kyoto lies this little piece of heaven. Outside there is a small wooden bench with attached roof which was just perfect for us to sip on a great cup of coffee while sheltering from the rain. We were very lucky, because these are the only two seats they have :)
Wishing I could come back here every single weekend....
After we have visited the bamboo forest just outside of Kyoto we went for a walk along the river to this little venue. Inside there is only one table which you can use if you hire it by the hour. But when the weather is as sunny as the day we were there, it is great to sit outside in the sun and enjoy the view over river and beautiful green landscape.
Tucked away in a small alley you will find this lush spot.
The atmosphere is very calm and relaxing jazz music is playing from the speakers. It's a great place to slow down and enjoy their home roasted coffee with freshly baked carrot cake.