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Feb 28, 2010 08:09 PM

Grab and go espresso in Tokyo?

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?

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: gkanai

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

        7 Replies
        1. re: Tokyo Espresso

          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

            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

              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

            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

              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

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

            2. re: Tokyo Espresso

              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. 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

                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

                  I have a R.I.P. section:

                  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:

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

                  1. re: Tokyo Espresso

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

                2. Bear Pond Espresso is superb. There were 2 Tokyo locations in 2010;
                  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

                    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.
                    Still in Sancha, Cafe Obscura Laboratory does excellent espresso.
                    Omotesando Koffee is also a favourite 'cafe' to pop into when in the area.