The original Omotesando Koffee was an oasis in bustling Tokyo with its relaxed vibe and excellent coffee. Read on to discover the origins of the global coffee enterprise.
We were pleasantly surprised by Tokyo and the city’s love of coffee. Japan certainly has wonderful teas, but coffee is popular with Tokyites of all ages too.
This is a city with great coffee shops everywhere, even inside train stations. While we really liked the coffee chains like Beck’s for a quick latte on the go, we fell in love with Omotesando Koffee for its more complete coffee experience.
We headed to Omotesando Koffee for an afternoon pick-me-up on our way to Harijuku after reading about the tiny coffee shop in the Omotesando neighborhood. However, it wasn’t so easy to find.
We wandered through streets laced with hair salons and boutiques until we found the coffee oasis. The coffee shop was so small that we almost past its entrance, but we found it with the help of google maps and Daryl’s eagle eye.
Without question, the coffee shop was an exercise in Japanese minimalism.
It pretty much consisted of a La Cimbale espresso machine, a few items for sale and a tastefully manicured garden with two benches. The cafe’s stylish yet tranquil vibe provided serenity in the Tokyo megalopolis.
Our First Visit
We both chose iced cappuccinos during our initial visit.
In an aesthetic twist, Kunitomo lightly dusted the foamy drinks with espresso powder to create a fun fuzzy layer at the top.
The quality of the drinks was enhanced by the serene garden where we drank them. Those drinks energized us for the rest of the day and motivated us to return for another round.
Our Second Visit
We shared an iced mocha latte during our second visit.
We simply had to order an iced mocha after watching Kunitomo prepare one during our first visit. In fact, we obsessed about the iced beverage between visits.
Our obsession was justified. The iced mocha latte was a work of typical high Japanese design craftsmanship. It was delicious too.
We visited Starbucks several times on our initial Tokyo trip for two reasons – free wi-fi and refreshing frappuccinos. There must be a thousand Starbucks shops in Japan and they have different flavors compared to Starbucks in the US.
We fell in love with Matcha Frappuccinos made with green tea powder, milk, ice and whipped cream which was new to us at the time. Sadly, we just missed the seasonal Candy Orange Frappuccino. We did get to sample the new seasonal Tiramisu Frappuccino flavor, though we preferred the Matcha.
Since prices were comparable to Starbucks in the states, we shared several throughout the week. Yum!
Omotesando Koffee is now permanently closed in Tokyo. However, Kunimoto has opened locations in Hong Kong and London. We’ve visited Omotesando shops in both global cities with positive results. While the Tokyo shop’s closure is bad for Tokyo, Kunimoto’s global expansion is good for the world of coffee.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: April 27, 2013