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Grab and go espresso in Tokyo?

e
etw Feb 28, 2010 08:09 PM

Any decent, if not good, espresso bars in Tokyo? Only place I know of is Macchinesti, which is miles away from where I live. Just moved back from New York and am already feeling nervous about the thought of being stuck with those god awful chains.
I know there are good, old-school, dingy coffee places where you sit for hours with a book and a smoke, but I need espresso shots here.
Any? If not, can someone please start one?

  1. t
    ttj Feb 28, 2010 08:59 PM

    There is a blog on the topic, called Tokyo Espresso - google it and see if it is any help.
    I usually go to Espressamente illy (a chain though).

    2 Replies
    1. re: ttj
      gkanai Mar 1, 2010 03:32 PM

      Make your own? Get your espresso coffee from Azabu Kobo.

      http://tokyowriter.wordpress.com/2010...

      1. re: gkanai
        t
        ttj Mar 1, 2010 04:19 PM

        Most of the time I actually do make my own - thanks for the link, quite interesting.
        But sometimes that is not an option, and for me couple of those Illy places are quite conveniently located.

    2. u
      Uncle Yabai Mar 1, 2010 02:31 PM

      Macchinesti has gone to that great coffee grinder in the sky. I don't know, maybe the fact that they took 15 minutes to make you a lukewarm espresso may have had something to do with their demise.

      1. t
        Tokyo Espresso Mar 11, 2010 10:42 PM

        Thanks for the mention, ttj. Bear Pond is without peer. Here's my post on it:

        http://tokyoespresso.blogspot.com/sea...

        7 Replies
        1. re: Tokyo Espresso
          s
          Scharn Mar 12, 2010 09:51 PM

          Cool, will check it out too. Cause, Illy is not the solution.

          Oh, may I add that "espresso to go" would be the probably most horrible thing you could ever do to an espresso?

          1. re: Scharn
            p
            prasantrin Mar 13, 2010 10:43 PM

            I was thinking that was precisely the reason it's difficult to find a good take-out espresso in Tokyo. Most serious coffee shops wouldn't bother with take out espresso since it's something which should be consumed immediately.

            1. re: prasantrin
              t
              ttj Mar 14, 2010 04:31 PM

              For me, Illy was mainly the solution to staying awake during AM Japanese lessons and not being late in the process. But rest assured, no espressos were harmed in the course of my language education, those were breakfast coffees..
              Of course it is not a solution when in search of that perfect cup.

          2. re: Tokyo Espresso
            l
            lost squirrel Mar 14, 2010 10:23 PM

            After reading that review of Bear Pond - I want to go try. I don't think I even have an inkling of a clue what good espresso is, but I'm curious to find out.

            1. re: lost squirrel
              j
              Jrim Mar 15, 2010 07:07 PM

              I've only been there once, but I was still enjoying the aftertaste half an hour later. THAT'S what good espresso is.

              1. re: Jrim
                l
                lost squirrel Mar 15, 2010 08:17 PM

                Sounds scary, but I'll still give it a shot [inadvertent pun!]

            2. re: Tokyo Espresso
              d
              dinersaurus Oct 29, 2012 10:55 AM

              I just returned from Tokyo and a visit to Bear Pond. While, it's hardly a grab and go type of place for espresso, it is definitely worth a trip. First, it's a fun neighborhood to explore and has a bit of a bohemian vibe that's a nice change of pace from the inner city. If you do trek out to Shimo-Kitazawa, build in some time to stroll the area. I wished we had had more time to do so. Secondly, they do espresso like no one else. Their espresso is more like port is to wine. Or, maybe cognac. It's nearly a different beast altogether. Thick, almost syrupy but absolutely delicious. Also, their "dirty" is worth a try as well. It's a layered drink that's part iced latte, part chocolate. A bit hard to describe, but quite enjoyable. Finally, it's fun chatting with the owner, Katsuyuki Tanaka. He's a real character.

            3. j
              jet lagged Mar 16, 2010 05:46 PM

              Macchinesti was a weird one. Some days incredible other days almost cold. Also, the staff weren't always so friendly which is rare for a skilled specialty place in Japan. Their sandwiches (club and pastrami) were great as were the dark breads they were made on. I am sad to see them go as I live right up the hill from there and Segafreddo is better than Starbucks but still way disappointing. Also the Hiro-o Segafredo gets kind of a sleazy on the make older than 50s crowd. (Wrinkly women wearing leather, aggressive, semi-employed high end car salesmen, etc) Another great coffee loss was Cohiba Atmosphere on Kotto Dori. Miki there was sent to Italy to train as a barista and competed in the World Barista Championships. You can try a wine bar in Ebisu called Da Noi- they have the equipment and are pretty good. (It's right by the love hotels there. It's kind of a stop for guys when the lady they are with is still on the fence about what may happen next....the feeling is that another glass of wine or a grappa may help achieve the goal.......)

              3 Replies
              1. re: jet lagged
                u
                Uncle Yabai Mar 17, 2010 12:05 AM

                The Cohiba Atmosphere is gone? That was short-lived, and too bad, I did like it the few times I was there. As for the Segafreddo, Auntie Yabai calls it "The Dive" (with capital letters). I think if the Japanese authorities wanted to round up every sleazy immigrant overstayer on the make, they could do no better than raid the place on a weekend afternoon.

                1. re: jet lagged
                  t
                  Tokyo Espresso Mar 17, 2010 12:40 AM

                  I have a R.I.P. section:
                  http://tokyoespresso.blogspot.com/search/label/R.I.P.

                  macchinesti is included, of course. but Caffe Cuore in Daikanyama and Pelle's in Kanda (yes, Kanda!) are also included and sorely missed.

                  I think jet lagged's reference to "Da Noi" is referring to da Gino in Ebisu:
                  http://tokyoespresso.blogspot.com/sea...

                  da Gino's espresso is good but not yet at the level of Bear Pond.

                  1. re: Tokyo Espresso
                    u
                    Uncle Yabai Mar 17, 2010 12:59 AM

                    If Kanda is your Panda, you should check out Cafe Atabey. Very good, I thought.

                2. j
                  jildo Oct 6, 2012 04:24 PM

                  Bear Pond Espresso is superb. There were 2 Tokyo locations in 2010;
                  http://www.bear-pond.com
                  2-36-12 Kitazawa Setagaya-ku Tokyo Japan

                  No. 8
                  1-17-1 Shibuya Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0002 JAPAN

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jildo
                    wekabeka Oct 9, 2012 10:15 PM

                    Bear Pond is good, but the Shibuya shop doesn't serve espresso, and he usually sells out of espresso by 2pm in Shimo.
                    It's location is not particularly convenient for grab and go, but I love Nozy Coffee, in Sangenjaya. The young owner roasts beans for a number of other cafes around town, including Fuglen. http://www.nozycoffee.jp/
                    Still in Sancha, Cafe Obscura Laboratory does excellent espresso.
                    http://www.cafe-obscura.com/laborator...
                    Omotesando Koffee is also a favourite 'cafe' to pop into when in the area.

                  2. Kavey Oct 30, 2012 05:45 AM

                    We popped into Omotesando Koffee after our lunch at Maisen Jingumae branch, and the coffee was very good. It's a tiny place, and the owner takes his time making each customer's order, so it won't be a quick dash and go, if there's a queue. There were about 6 or so people ahead of us and it took maybe 15 minutes or more for us to reach the front. But it was very good, as were the small baked custard cakes that are the only food available with your coffee.

                    A friend tells me that the owner of the property is intending to sell it soon, for redevelopment, so Omotesando Koffee will need to relocate. I don't know when that might be.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kavey
                      wekabeka Oct 30, 2012 07:12 AM

                      Glad you enjoyed it, Kavey. I might have been misquoted in your post; the owner, Kunitomo-san, originally started it as a pop-up, but, after it took off, he decided to negotiate another year's lease on the property. I don't know what will happen to the Omotesando location after this year, but Kunimoto-san definitely has his eye on expansion: he opened a new shop in Kyoto last month. http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2602/A26020...

                      1. re: wekabeka
                        Kavey Oct 30, 2012 07:21 AM

                        Aah, sorry Beka, was not referring to anything you said, but some information from a London friend of mine who visits Japan often, and wrote about Omotesando Koffee recently...

                        And yes, I understand that there are plans for expansion anyway, but not sure what will happen to the charming Omotesando location.

                        :-)

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