Canal Cafe

This is an iconic establishment at the foot of hilly Kagurazaka that has been around for more than 100 years. As the name suggests, this café is on the canal, right by JR Iidabashi Station. Whether you’re inside or outside, you can watch the trains stream by, the boats lulling in the water and the office buildings rising behind and lighting up in the evening. During spring, Canal Cafe is also a wonderful cherry blossom viewing spot, with the caveat of long lines and big crowds. Sakura season aside, it’s so spacious it can fit hundreds of people comfortably. It’s also open every day and until late at night.

Canal Cafe serves strong, dependable coffee to pick you up after a long busy day. It has all the classics, such as café au lait or simple black coffee. While not on the level of specialty coffee and the beans you get are non-negotiable, the coffee is decent. However, we recommend the coffee pudding over coffee. It’s a decadent coffee assemblage — strong black coffee jelly, fluffy latte macchiato mousse, whipped cream and a bit of chocolate on top. It packs a caffeine punch, combines dessert and drink in one and looks beautiful. Aside from coffee, the menu also has tea, alcohol and even pizza baked in a stone pizza oven.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

Kagurazaka does French cuisine and culture so well, we would be remiss not to have a French patisserie on this list. Aux Merveilleux de Fred is a brand straight from France with only a select few international shops, one of which is in Tokyo. So, it comes as no surprise that the shop’s pastries are to die for. The croissants are buttery, tasty and authentically French. Aux Merveilleux de Fred is best known for its unique handmade meringue sweets and thin waffles, so give those a try too.

The Italian espresso is strong, well-rounded and balanced. There is also a café au lait, as well as iced coffee drinks for summer and seasonal drinks. Weather permitting, you can sip your coffee on the rooftop terrace and overlook the main street going through Kagurazaka. Alternatively, you can relax inside, while taking in the elegant interior of the shop on the second and third floors.

Akha Ama Coffee

Akha Ama Coffee serves tasty, sustainable, organic coffee in a welcoming space in a quiet backstreet in Kagurazaka. The staff will happily explain all about the coffee and its origin. You can buy coffee beans and T-shirts with traditional Akha designs. The coffee itself is expertly made, whether it’s a classic espresso, macchiato, latte or a carefully made pour-over. Also, try the Thai iced latte made with sweet cream or the cardamom latte. Depending on the season, there’s also Manne Mana, a foamed double espresso with orange peel. The desserts are exquisite, with the carrot cake and the vegan fig and walnut brownie being big favorites.

The only Thai coffee shop in Tokyo, Akha Ama has a special connection with a community in the Thai mountains. All the beans come from a small farm in the north of Thailand, near the Myanmar border. The coffee is grown by the Akha tribe, who originally came to Thailand as refugees. Akha Ama is the Tokyo branch of the company owned by the first university graduate of the village. His mother grew coffee to help raise him and send him to school. The “Ama” in Akha Ama means “mother” and the logo drawing is based on his mother.

Books + Coffee + Gallery

Weekenders Coffee, Kamome Books and Ondo Gallery joined together to create a space for books, coffee and art. The café is bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking toward the street. A couple of outside tables are perfect for people-watching too. The gallery in the back always has some art on display. Weekenders Coffee serves freshly ground and brewed coffee and the menu surprises with concoctions such as turmeric latte and espresso whiskey.

The location, elegant classical music and quality light roast espresso aside, this café is great for reading. You can bring your own novel or buy something from the shelves that are stocked with books and magazines. There are a few things in English, but the majority of the reading materials are in Japanese.

Gather by UnPlan

This café is part of a stylish hotel, so it’s conveniently open until late. It also has free Wi-Fi and electric outlets, as well as an overall welcoming and comfortable interior. For nice sunny days, there’s a terrace too. Located in the Kagurazaka backstreets, it’s a quiet and pleasant space to be in. However, do check how long you can stay, as it seems to depend on congestion.

UnPlan has an extensive food menu in addition to some nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Of course, the reason it landed on this list is because of its great coffee, including tasty espressos. It’s obvious that this place is not just about mindless caffeination at the push of a button on a coffee machine.

Akagi Café

Hidden behind a red torii gate, Akagi Shrine is invisible unless you know what you’re looking for. And next to it, is an even more hidden café. Together they are a great stop on a Kagurazaka itinerary, so you can get your fill of history, culture and coffee. The shrine was founded in 1300, but redesigned by star architect and Kagurazaka resident Kengo Kuma. He also designed the café next to it.

Due to its location on the shrine’s grounds, this café is peaceful and quiet. From inside Akagi Café, you have a view of the shrine and on good weather days, the floor-to-ceiling windows can open fully. The café’s interior is simple and minimal, while the coffee is decent and reliable. There are espresso-based drinks and hand drip coffee, as well as sweets such as Japanese wagashi and soft-serve ice cream. There are also hearty meals on the menu, so it’s a good lunch spot too.