Tokyo’s Best Underrated Cafés

I rounded up the most underrated cafés in Tokyo, which is no easy task, because Tokyo is brimming with hidden gems and the search is endless!

1) Rose Bakery –

The café looks very organic with wooden tables and surrounding plants, but to be honest, I mostly go there for the sweets. With locations in Paris, London and Seoul, the French bakery offers fresh tarts, salads, eggs Benedict, scones, and an immense selection of homemade cakes. The vast display of cakes is enough to send me in a sugar dreamland: walnut and amaretto, coconut lime, banana pecan, matcha and raspberry- just to name a few. Don’t leave without their famous carrot cake, to take out for the road!

2) Nicolai Bergmann –

Copenhagen-based designer flower shop Nicolai Bergmann offers more than blossoms. Tucked in the shop is an exquisite café which serves the most divine smoothies, my favorites being Winter Escape (a delectable mix of mango, coconut milk, banana, mint and honey), and Espresso Banana (has a shot of java for a quick spur). Oatmeal cookies, brownies, salads and paninis are also on the menu, and losing yourself in a sea of flowers may be the perfect way to spend tea time.

3) Omotesando Koffee –

Omotesando Koffee is a tiny little coffee shop located in a house, tucked into the hilly back streets of Harajuku- good luck trying to find it. The exterior of the shop is simply an old, traditional Japanese house and garden, and inside hides a sleek, minimalist interior. The staff is warm, friendly, and chatty- to me, that is part of my quality criteria. The menu is simple, and the espresso outstanding. Absolute perfection in every cup, the right amount of bitterness and frothy texture. One of the sweetest parts about the shop is that you can accompany your java with a little baked custard bite, which is the ideal companion to coffee.

4) Mois Café Shimokitazawa –

Located on a quiet side street and surrounded with trees, the café is hiding in an old, traditional Japanese house. Enter the house, and it feels so cozy that you may be tempted to take off your shoes. Climb the steep wooden stairwell to the second floor, where you can relax with a drink- a selection of coffees, teas, beers, wine and cocktails are offered. The music is always good and ambient, which makes or breaks a café for me- trust me! If you’re hungry, I highly recommend the curry rice.

5) Notting Hill Cakes & Gifts –

This Jiyugaoka treasure chest boasts one of my favorite (yet sadly overrated) indulgence, the cupcake. Still a bit difficult to find in Tokyo, I can easily see why this tiny bite of heaven is so popular: it’s simple, small, and the whit of frosting creates the perfect balance of crumbly and sugary. Try the pistachio cupcake for a slightly bitter and nutty taste, or take a huge bite of the vanilla cupcake, complete with a dollop of perfectly rich, buttery frosting. Other sweets are available, as well as a lunch set. I love the decor, it’s sleek yet cozy, and piles of magazines are available to browse through.


Seattle meets Tokyo

I’ve been to the smaller, original location of Macchinesti in Akabanebashi two years ago, the Vivace-inspired outlet opened by a protégé of David Schomer. But they also run a bigger shop with a simple savory food menu not far away in Azabu-Juuban, which benefits from a pleasant outdoor seating area.

I felt the urge for some decent coffee after we woke up late Sunday morning, so we made a pilgrimage to the new location, found in a posh residential area in Tokyo.


Eggs Benedict on the menu

I have never encountered this favorite of mine on the menu anywhere in Tokyo, and I only seen evidence of it on expensive hotel menus online. In Seattle, we often make eggs florentine or whatever at home, and I get to fix for the porcine version when we go out for a weekend brunch.

Take something home

I didn’t take any beans home, of course, since there’s no coffee brewing equipment in my weekly apartment. For those who live in Tokyo, however, freshly roasted Vivace-blended beans (and some Tokyo-only single-estate treats) are a must-have.



Katakana-ized menu.

Tokyo Rosetta

Ok, that was a cruel caption. But even Vivace rarely pumps out rosettas as elaborate as this duo. We might have just been lucky, though… one of the two coffees was made with a more typical single-pattern rosetta.

Coffee History



Ethiopia, which is in Eastern Africa was the first known area where coffee first became known or discovered. A goat herder by the name of Kaldi, noticed his goats acting giddy one day after eating the berries from a bush. Trying them himself, he noticed he felt a renewed sense of vigor. Of course he spread the word and soon the wonder of these unique berries was known throughout the land.

Eventually, Monks dried the berries so that they could be transported to far away monasteries. They ate the berries and also mixed them with water and drank the liquid. It kept them more alert during prayer.