Release Date: May 21, 2016
My family and I have called Shinjuku home for the past 5 years. We live about 5 minutes from the station and despite the crowds and the concrete, we have really enjoyed checking out a lot of coffee shops in the area. Here’s a list of ten… I’ve included both very new and very old… places for a take away and places to spend the afternoon at – something for everyone. I’m at one of these at least once a day (as is our photographer Nik!) – so please come and say hi if the stars align!
REJIIG / ISETAN (1 minute from Shinjuku Sanchome Sta)
On the eighth floor of the Isetan Mens department store is one of the sexiest and most modern cafes you’ll ever lay your eyes on. You’ll pay Isetan prices (close to 1000yen for a cup of coffee), but these prices are not uncommon when it comes to department stores. The atmosphere and the taste of the coffee definitely make it worth your while. The last time I went with a close friend, I told them that it’s the type of place you’d come on that special occasion. He replied that coming here would make any occasion special. Tough to disagree with him. Your coffee comes with chocolate and a seedless raisin cluster, which is a lovely touch. Sit on the gorgeous red leather seats.
DUG (5 minutes from Shinjuku sanchome sta)
Dug is an establishment that has been featured a number of times on our site. This coffee house slash whiskey bar is a hidden gem located in the middle of Shinjuku on Yasukuni dori, one of the main shopping strips. Down some narrow steps and you enter into this small jazz temple that hasn’t changed in 50 years. You’ll see the owner’s photographs of the finest Jazz musicians displayed on the walls. It’s in a class of it’s own.
APARTMENT COFFEE (5 minutes from Shinjuku Gyoen Mae station)
Apartment Coffee, a local corner stop, is perfect for anyone wanting that early morning espresso hit or pour over. You’ll see the espresso machine in the big window on the corner, and there’s also a window that opens up for take out orders, which is usually the go. There are six or so stools inside if you want to chill and/or chat with the friendly owner. It’s one of the most unprententious coffee shops I know.
4/4 SEASONS COFFEE (3 minutes from Shinjuku Sanchome station)
Open since mid 2015, All Seasons is run by experienced barista Jun Saito who used to work at Nui (Kuramae, Tokyo) and Paul Bassett (Shibuya, Tokyo). It’s a pretty laid back type of place, but Jun is very serious about the coffee he is brewing, which – when I visited – was a choice of beans roasted by Glitch (Jimbocho, Tokyo) or And Coffee Roasters (Kumamoto). On a fine day, you’ll find them outside the front serving up “Today’s coffee”, if you’re rushing to work!
L’AMBRE (2 minutes from Shinjuku Sanchome sta)
L’ambre is a common meeting spot for the goodcoffee.me team. Across from the new Beams Japan, the entrance doesn’t look like much…. just wait until you head down the stairs to the basement where you step into an unexpected world of classical music blended with European styled interior. More than 100 red velvet seats and gold trimmings are awaiting you. I recommend the cinnamon on toast / coffee set!
Tajimaya Coffee (2 minutes from JR Shinjuku sta)
A lot of people over the years have recommended this establishment to me and it was nice to finally get the chance to visit for this column. Out of the 10 on this list, Tajimaya would probably be the most serious coffee establishment. It’s located at the top of piss alley in Shinjuku, which is a very photogenic spot for anyone visiting Tokyo, and the coffee shop (as well as piss alley itself) has a constant stream of customers. They roast in-house daily at Tajimaya in a tiny room by the counter on the 2nd floor. I try the Kopi Luwak, which is 3,000 yen a cup. If you don’t know Kopi Luwak and want to find out something interesting today, I recommend a quick google! There aren’t many places that serve it in Tokyo and it’s always a great topic to bring up over coffee time!
COUNTERPART COFFEE GALLERY (5 minutes from Nishi Shinjuku Gochome station)
Counterpart Coffee Gallery opened up in January of 2016, and is the second shop by Kiyokazu Suzuki. You’ll always have a selection of single origin beans to choose from, which are roasted regularly at their first establishment Glitch Coffee (Jimbocho, Tokyo). Suzuki san was head roaster at Paul Basset for many years and his beans are now used in various cafes.
COFFEE SEIBU (3 minutes from Shinjuku Sanchome sta)
If you’re ever wondering where to go for an authentic Japanese kissaten experience, look no further. It’s not like some of the other kissatens we’ve featured in terms of the coffee on offer, but the house blend is actually quite good. Attracting all types of clientele, Seibu is a popular spot for salarymen coming for the lunch set, freelancers holding meetings, people killing time with the help of the free wifi on offer and the youth of Japan chewing the fat. You’ll see modern Japan in a nutshell here.
PAUL BASSETT (5 minutes from JR Shinjuku sta)
Paul Bassett is from Australia, and has made a name for itself over in South Korea with shops in every area. It hasn’t taken off in Japan like in South Korea, but nonetheless it’s been the platform for a lot of baristas who now own their own shops. The Shinjuku store is in the basement of the Nomura building office complex and is part of a popular Italian buffet-style restaurant. I recommend the aeropress recipe by the 2014 World Aeropress Champion Shuichi Sasaki.
1-26-2 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo B1F Shinjuku Nomura Building
PEACE COFFEE (2 minutes from JR Shinjuku sta)
Peace Coffee is a 52 years old traditional Japanese coffee shop, with that very retro Japanese vibe. Opening from 9am until 10:45pm, it’s pretty much always packed full of salarymen happily chatting away with coffee in one hand and cigarettes in the other. According to the staff, Doraemon writer Fujiko Fuji used to spend days on end here. Walking through the door is kind of like being transported through Doraemon’s pocket to another era… There’s something very analog about this place that appeals to me.