If there’s one part of Tokyo that never stops, it’s Roppongi. But for those in need of a pick-me-up, stepping out of the train station and into the concrete jungle of business parks and shopping malls can be an overwhelming start to your search for a cup of coffee. To make life easier, here’s a list of some of the more unique spots to grab a well-roasted brew.
1. 33 Aojiru Tokyo
One of the newest additions to Roppongi’s coffee and beverage scene, known primarily for the extensive use of the ingredient after which the store is named, 33 Aojiru is a must-try for the health-conscious in search of a pick-me-up.
Aojiru, known as “green drink” or “green juice” in English, is a Japanese vegetable drink. At 33 Aojiru Tokyo this is mainly comprised of young barley grass and features prominently throughout its menu.
Known for its abundance of nutrients, aojiru has existed for over 70 years in Japan as a popular health supplement. More recently, many brands have brought the product into their café style menus, fusing together Tokyo’s love of coffee and a healthy lifestyle to create a delicious blend of healthy drinks.
This combination is found on 33 Aojiru Tokyo’s menu in the form of aojiru soy, almond and standard lattes, as well as an aojiru white hot chocolate for those with more of a sweet tooth. Beyond the shop’s signature aojiru drinks, which also includes smoothies and sodas, 33 Aojiru Tokyo offers traditional soy and milk lattes, available hot and iced, as well as a specialty coffee sourced through another of Tokyo’s specialty coffee shops, Rec Coffee.
In keeping with its aojiru philosophy, the menu also has a number of sandwiches, all of which include the store’s own take on the famous green juice.
Where: 7-8-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku
2. Café Komaya
With specialty coffees derived from imported African beans available both hot and iced, the taste and quality of the brew here is unique, although in the best way possible.
Plucking you out of Roppongi’s hustle and bustle, the café places you amongst a relaxed bohemian setting of calm instrumental music, handmade art and framed nature photography. It’s an environment well complemented by an entirely gluten-free menu consisting of curries, vegetable salads, soups and baguettes, served up by friendly English-speaking staff.
Also on offer is a range of desserts, all of which are manufactured in the small town of Yamamoto in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture. This menu, which pairs greatly with the coffee, includes roll and chiffon cakes, parfait and soft serve, all of which are gluten-free.
Where: 3-4-16 Roppongi, Minato-ku
3. Bread Bricolage & Co.
Situated in a quieter corner of Roppongi, Bread Bricolage & Co has a reputation for coffee and baked goods of exceptional quality, delivered in a serene ambience.
The coffee, overseen by the accomplished Kenji Kojima, exudes a level of dedication and care that only a barista with his experience could provide. Kojima’s had a career in coffee that transcends continents. He began his life as a barista in Tokyo, but went on to garner international experience in Norway at the world-famous Fuglen, as well as Australia in the coffee rich Market Lane of Melbourne.
If you’re looking to grab a bite, Kojima’s coffee pairs beautifully with Bread Bricolage & Co’s menu of fresh baked goods and hearty cuisine, all of which is crafted with a particular focus on the use of locally sourced ingredients from throughout Japan.
With a clear desire to create a warm and enjoyable dining experience, your time can be either spent inside amongst the homely interior of the restaurant, amidst the smell of freshly baked bread, or outside on the open-air terrace.
Where: 6-15-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku
4. Café Reino
Like a home away from home, Café Reino is quick to invite you inside with its eye-catching, rustic shop front nestled amongst Roppongi’s concrete jungle. Inside, the same homely feeling continues as you’re surrounded by the warmth of dark polished timber, antique crockery, coffee machinery and the smiles of staff who exude a genuine passion for the menu they offer.
The coffee available ranges from Brazilian brews to dark roast blends, both of which come with the generous offer of half-price “seconds” should you need another cup to get yourself ready for the day ahead. But the coffee doesn’t end there.
Should you find yourself in the mood for something a little sweeter, Café Reino offers a delicious cream topped Viennese coffee, or if you’re chasing something to help you brave the cold (or if you’re just having one of those days), there’s also an Irish coffee available.
Being more than just a coffee shop, here you can also find a variety of toasts to accompany your brew of choice, ranging from butter or jam to a heartier B.L.T.
Where: 3-1-19 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku
5. Mercedes Me Tokyo Downstairs Coffee
Here you can enjoy cars and a coffee selection hand-picked by one of the world’s best baristas. A beautiful combination set amongst the modern dining area of Mercedes Me’s ground floor. On par with the latest luxury Mercedes-Benz vehicles on display only feet away, the coffee here is top of its class, thanks to a careful selection curated by Hiroshi Sawada.
Known for his coffee prowess as the first Asian world champion, with the highest ever score at the Latte Art World Championship in 2008, Sawada has been personally involved in the curation of not only the coffee available at Mercedes Me, but also the latte art that adorns it, making for some of the most visually attractive brews in Tokyo.
This combination of both form and function at Mercedes Me ensures that whether you’re in the mood for the usual latte, or something a little more eccentric, like an espresso cola, you can be sure you’re getting some of the world’s best coffee when it arrives.
For those looking for something a little more substantial, a food menu consisting of tuna melts, salmon bagels and even a beef pastrami burger, complete with the Mercedes-Benz tri-star logo emblazoned on the bun, are all available as the perfect meal to enjoy while admiring your dream luxury car across the room.
Where: 7-3-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Photos by Ben Cooke