From a distance, the striking coffee-colour building looks like a house with style – one of many in Tokyo that makes the city an architectural museum. It’s just down the street, from Blue Bottle Coffee, and virtually right across one of the many canals that make up Koto District in Tokyo.
Apart from the elegant doorway, the first thing I noticed was thas the clientelle: the three ladies chortling away on the corner bench, content with their cups of coffee. I hadn’t intended to stop here, but who can resist after seeing such happy customers?
Inside is a cozy seating area, with one long bar table, and two smaller ones. Some patrons make do with the ledge around the side, facing roaster and coffee sacks. Even as you’re almost rubbing shoulders on the long table, the high ceilings and glass wall that enclose the roasting area offer a generous sense of space.
It’s better to come early, especially if you want a choice of seats. I showed up around 1pm on a warm, sunny, Saturday, and by the time I got my latte, there was a lineup out the door. There’s an ebb and flow, and many customers enjoy a stroll around the block after picking up a drink, so one wouldn’t feel too guilty about hanging around with a book. You can certainly fit your laptop as well!
Order at the counter, pay, and find a seat. The baristas are a friendly mix of locals and expats.
I ordered a latte, expecting the single-shot cup that sometimes has too much milk (i.e. 8 oz). I was thoroughly impressed by the cup I received, rich with a solid, aromatic kick only a proper double-shot can give.
What piqued my interest in Allpress was its story. Allpress hails from New Zealand, specializing in roasting and espressos. It began as a hand-built coffee cart in 1986, when Michael Allpress gave up his career as a chef and pursued brewing the perfect Italian espresso.
His obsession with flavour led him to source his own beans and develop his own roasts. Allpress buit its reputation at old-fashioned turtle speed, and eventually opened shops in Australia. In 2010, they hopped to London, UK. Nearly 30 years after it began, Allpress Japan just joined the family in 2014. Here, the choice of revitalizing a former timber warehouse with a suitable modern design, I’d like to think, reflects the humble spirit of the company.
As not only a coffee lover, but a former student of international development, I’m also impressed by their transparency of process. Coffee is Black Gold (watch the documentary), and the most traded commodity in the world after oil. However, the best quality coffee for customers requires painstakingly sourced direct beans from small farms, estates, and co-ops. The best coffee begins with travel. The real groundwork of great cafes is their persistent search for quality green beans, which means staying with growers, observing their processes, and developing relationships. Incidentally, this direct transaction is also the best way to reward farmers with quality products.
If you get to know the baristas, ask them when they do their roasting. You can buy a cup, watch the machines in action.
Cafe is Good For:
- Coffee: Espresso
- Afternoon Tea / Dessert (they have some light snacks & smoothies)
- Work: 1 large bench & 2 small tables
- Friends: Hangouts & catching up
- Chilling and reading
- People watching (outside benches are better)
|Address:||Hirano 3-chome 7-2, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Sat, Sun, Public Holidays: 9:00-18:00
||【月・火・水・木・金 】 8:00～17:00
If you liked this post, check out the full list of Kiyosumishirakawa’s Cafes.