Now sadly closed, although you would have thought it wasn’t open in the first place, if like me it took you three times round the block just to find the place. In a tranquil overgrown garden and sign posted by a small metallic square sculpture, Omotesando is somewhat hidden from the casual passer by, it’s somewhat hidden from those who are trying to find it too. Fortunately we persevered and made our way inside, where we found a stripped down, but highly professional service.
Serving espresso based beverages, based on two espresso blends, I kept my order simple and opted for an espresso, with our additional order being for something cold. Rather than pretensiously decrying the cold beverage, or lacklustrely preparing the ‘lesser’ of the two beverages, we were encouraged to try the iced coffee, which heavily resembled a shakerato, prepared with the utmost dedication and attention.
It was a pleasure to watch such a high degree of professionalism in the preparation of the drinks and they arrived looking and tasting great.
The espresso arrived with aromas of all spice and demerara sugar, tasting like memories of Naples bittersweet to begin with it opened up in to acidic green apples with a big syrupy body that had the sweetness of molasses. The iced coffee was great too, intense espresso flavours with a cold refreshing feel. Finishing our drinks we bathed in the peaceful tranquility of the garden a while before leaving.
Now Closed – The beautiful Toranomon Koffee, now open in Mori Tower
Absent mindedly out in the Roppongi Hills, we found ourselves passing Maruyama Coffee and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pop inside and gtab a coffee. Walking in past the wall display of coffee that seemed never ending, it was clear that Maruyama dealt with a lot of origins. The menu, which we flicked through was even longer, I must have had to choose between at least 50 different coffees.
With a tonne of different origins arranged by brew method, which included Steampunk brewed coffee, I opted for the coffee that most appealed to me in the moment, a Bolivia Agro Takesi Typica brewed on french press. I’d been having pretty good luck with the french press so far and the Bolivian had some appealing tasting notes.
Arriving with reddish hues, the coffee gave off coplex and fragrant aromas of raisins, chocolate, florals with some pineapple acidity. To taste it was fairly similar with a chocolate base that held top flavours of raisin and a yellow fruit acidity. Impeccably balanced with a silky mouthfeel, this was clearly a great coffee, although with over 50 on offer, you’d hope you’d be able to find a good one.
Tokyo, Minato-ku, Nishi-Azabu 3-13-3
It was late at night, not a time I would traditionally drink coffee, but it was our last night and I’d been kind of saving Sarutahiko Coffee for the end of my trip. Arriving at the shop we were welcomed inside by the friendly staff, before making our choices from the brew menu. Debating a while befween the honey or the natural selection of a Panamanian coffee, eventually we settled on the Panama Elida natural.
Preparing the coffee on the brew bar behind the counter using a gold filter cone, I suspected I might have made the right choice.
The coffee arrived with bright strawberry aromas and hints of chocolate and honey. This was a particularly distinctive coffee with a lot of honest clarity. To taste, wow, just wow, well rounded and balanced strawberry acidity, with the sweetness of ripe strawberries and some dark chocolate and lime near the finish. This reminded me a great deal of the strawberry cornettos I had when I was a kid, the memories I have of them rather than the actual average flavours they probably had. This was it, this was the best coffee I’d tried so far in all of Japan, it was one of the best coffees I’ve tried ever, such clarity and quality of flavour. There was a reason I’d been saving this place till near the end. Coffee finished we got up to purchase a bag, to my dismay they were sold out of the natural on retail, it appears the quality of the coffee had been no secret to Sarutahiko’s regular patrons. Thankfully there was some of the honey process left, so I picked up some of that instead.
Not for the first time, after explaining how great the coffee had been, we were escorted out of the shop as we said our goodbyes and thankyous. Great coffee, great staff and a wonderful atmosphere.
Our trip was coming to an end sadly, but before we were due to fly, we still had time to fit in one last coffee shop, Norway’s very own export Fuglen Coffee. Looking entirely Japanese, I was surprised to find this coffee shop was an import and not one of Japan’s own, such was the attention to detail and quality of aesthetic of the decor. Like stepping back in time we entered into the soft jazz stylings of Fuglen’s interior.
Lined with wood and stylish memories of the past we enjoyed the relaxed but cool vibe of Fuglen, approaching the counter to read the menu. Ordering some cold brew and a Colombia Buesaco Microlot brewed on the Kalita Wave, before we took our seats in the window.
Arriving in stylish white cups, the aesthetic in Fuglen was almost as important as the flavour of their coffee. Giving off aromas of red berry scones and tobacco, to taste it was a particularly clean set of mandarin and raspberry flavours with a dark fruit cake like sweetness, which softly swayed me to the jazzy reflections of our trip to Japan. So relaxing was Fuglen we barely spoke while sat inside, instead reflecting on the pleasures of our trip and the dramatic cultural change we’d been swept up in.
Fuglen was a pleasure, Japan had been a pleasure and I couldn’t think of a better way to round out our trip than in the stylish comfort and reflection of Fuglens years gone by interior. Still it was time to leave, in more ways than one, so we got up and walked back out in to the beautiful sunshine.