Due to a recent proliferation of coffee roasters and hip coffee joints, the eastern Tokyo neighborhood of Kiyosumi has developed a reputation as a haven for coffee lovers.
While a lot of these places don’t serve the cheapest coffee, coffee itself is surely one of the best cheapo vices. Unless you’ve got a football-sized bladder and you enjoy being as wired as an ostrich, one or two cups for a few hundred yen each will be the maximum you can handle in a single session. For the same reason, a coffee tour (unless you’re a bean gatherer) doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, if you’re visiting a nearby attraction like Kiyosumi Gardens, looking for a convenient place with good coffee to base yourself on a trip to Tokyo, or you want to experience something a little different, visiting one or more of the following coffee places is worth your consideration.
Before you get your sepia-tinted imagination racing about a quaint village-like place with locals click-clacking around in kimono and wooden sandals, Kiyosumi can be best described as an urban sea of concrete and tarmac dotted with islands of tranquility and treasure. The neighborhood itself is completely nondescript, with wide traffic-clogged roads and bland high-rise apartment blocks, which makes finding the treasure all the more fun.
Our top Kiyosumi cafe picks
A short walk from exit A1 of Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station, Iki Espresso is a small slice of Auckland in suburban Tokyo. As you’d expect, they do an excellent flat white. They also do the trendy hand-drip coffee if you enjoy waiting for your coffee.
Operating four days a week as a roastery for the aforementioned Iki and Bonnie Coffee Co., Bonnie opens up the space on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as a cafe. If the weather is nice, you can head down to the adjacent bank of the Sumida River to enjoy your coffee while watching the ferries and barges ply the waterways.
Next stop is Allpress Expresso—yet another New Zealand connection (Allpress is a family name and has no relation to any brewing methods). If like many New Zealanders and Australians, you can’t make it through the day without your flat white, then Allpress is your savior, serving one of the best flatties in Tokyo.
Heading westwards from Allpress, you’ll come across Arise Coffee Roasters. Choose from a range of single-origin beans with cups starting at 390 yen. It’s strictly dripster coffee—no espresso here.
A little further on, and at the other end of the corporate spectrum, is Oakland, California-based “third wave” coffee chain Blue Bottle’s first Tokyo store. This place used to have people lining up down the street to get a taste, but Blue Bottle has opened other stores, so the crush of people has thankfully disappeared.
Behind Kiyosumi Garden is the cooler than cool Arise Coffee Entangle—the cafe outlet for the much smaller Arise Coffee Roasters mentioned earlier. While doing the same single origin drip coffee thing, Entangle has a much more relaxed cafe vibe.
Lastly, Brew Parlor 3615 is back towards Kiyosumi Station. They offer drip coffee, French press and the opportunity to brew your own.
The most adorable place in Japan.