Asakusa, Tokyo’s core of tradition, is known for temples and shrines, kimono rentals and rickshaw rides. It has you spoiled for choice when it comes to washoku (Japanese food) or matcha. But if you’re wandering around looking for a great caffeine fix, you’ll need a bit of guidance. Coffee is not a traditional drink in Japan, so it’s not going to be the first thing you see on the streets of Asakusa. The area does have excellent coffee, however, so we’ve put together a list of the best coffee shops in Asakusa.
1. Sukemasa Coffee
This coffee shop expertly bridges the gap between Japan’s traditional culture and the modern third coffee wave. At the entrance, a traditional red umbrella greets you, while the walls are brickwork and concrete. The barista uniform is always a kimono or a yukata. In fact, the Sukemasa logo features a kimono with a coffee bean obidome. Every detail in this coffee shop has been carefully planned and executed.
The coffee itself is roasted and brought over from Sunny Bell Coffee roasters in Kanazawa City, then crafted into smooth dark espresso shots. The macchiato is served in a gorgeous Japanese sake cup, while the hot latte comes in a porcelain cup with the Sukemasa logo.
The shop is famous for its fruit sandwiches that sell out quickly. But we recommend you try the tiramisu too. It’s a balanced blend of two cultures. Honey and nuts as the base, topped with gelato, a coffee yokan (traditional Japanese wagashi) and mascarpone. And it’s freshly made and assembled upon order.
Sukemasa is right behind Sensoji Temple and the Hanayashiki Amusement Park, offering a very calm corner. When the weather allows, you can sit in front of the coffee shop, under the shade of a tree, while listening to the people on the rollercoaster scream in delight.
2. Deus Ex Machina
Asakusa is the new home of this super slick coffee shop that used to be in Harajuku. Deus Ex Machina’s owner and barista takes inspiration from the motorcycle and surfing subcultures, while his coffee skills have been honed in Australia. The result is a perfect flat white that you can sip while looking at a real motorcycle exhibited inside the coffee shop. There are elements of the classic American diner too.
We’ve established that the coffee is nothing but excellent. Deus also offers tasty bites, from bagels and salads to decadently satisfying pulled pork sandwiches. You can even buy a cool T-shirt or any of the merchandise that this coffee shop offers.
Deus is located just across the Sumida River from Asakusa Station, on your way to Tokyo Skytree if you’re walking there. It’s under the train tracks, in a new development called Tokyo Mizumachi. It has a lovely atmosphere, with a big park in front and on the other side there are terrace seats overlooking a water canal.
3. February Coffee
February Coffee pops up in four different spots on the map around Asakusa. All four are different but serve the same classic deep roast coffee that espresso drinkers will love. Espressos and lattes are on the menu, as well as cold brew and espresso tonic. In all four shops you can also have February Coffee’s signature classic kissaten pudding.
In Feb’s Coffee and Scone (pictured above) you can, of course, get a variety of scones. The scone choice is extensive, from plain to fig and gorgonzola, as well as seasonal items. It’s the tiniest coffee shop of the four, with just a few counter seats and an outdoor table, but you’re welcome to use the outlets and the wi-fi. At the time of writing, Feb’s Coffee and Scone has limited the in-store seating to 45 minutes. If you’re in a rush, there’s a separate takeout window too.
All February coffee spots have some bites such as sandwiches, but February Coffee and Kitchen serves a great variety of food such as omurice. This place is also the most spacious. The nearby February Coffee Roastery is where you can see the cute pink roasting machine and get your hands on some brand merchandise.
The Norwegian coffee roaster has four stores in Tokyo, one of which is in Asakusa. Fuglen has a great reputation, especially for its lighter more acidic coffee roasts. Espresso shots and hand brewed coffee find their way into cocktails too, such as the Espresso Martini, perfect for the evenings. There’s also craft beer available. Foodies should note that Fuglen is popular for the waffles with brown cheese.
Like most of the Fuglen stores, the Asakusa one is also a vintage design shop. This one, though, is the most spacious, with two floors and several benches outside. The interior is mainly Scandinavian design from the 1950s and ’60s. Curated by Norwegian icons, some items are available for purchase.
You can always drop by for a chilled coffee break. There are also live jazz, food and culture events.
Most specialty coffee shops serve drinks while selling some coffee beans as a bonus. Mamekokoro is the other way around — primarily selling a range of coffee beans. Purchasing Mamekokoro’s beans also gets you a free cup of drip coffee that can be enjoyed inside the shop. Of course, it’s possible just to walk in and order a coffee if that’s all you want.
This little shop with a relaxed atmosphere is great for coffee nerds who want to discuss coffee beans in detail. It’s a charming setting with a warm wooden interior and the no-nonsense air that workshops and artisan studios have. It’s a great escape from the crowds that can get intense in Asakusa.
More photos from the coffee shops:
Photos by Zoria Petkoska