Tribute to Omotesando Koffee

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I visited the place just before it closed down and wrote this… But there is another branch. Read on, my friends….

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was on a quintessential Sunday afternoon mission across Tokyo to deliver a British Christmas pudding to a French friend at a coffee festival.

Somehow on this drizzly, damp afternoon French friend had managed to spend 2.5 hours in the cold, sipping what he said was sub-standard coffee.  Numerous traders had gathered for Tokyo Coffee Festival, held next to the farmer’s market at the United Nations University in Shibuya. 1000 yen would get you 5 samples.

“They water it down!” he complained. “In France, we call it ‘sock juice’!”

“Thanks,” I replied. “You just saved me 1000 yen. How about we go warm up at an indoor coffee shop?”

This was, in fact, a misleading statement, unbeknownst to myself at the time. I was hell-bent on visiting Omotesando Koffee, which I had heard was closing at the end of this month (December) due to its lease finally running out. The thing is that I don’t know anything about Omotesando Koffee. So when all four of us traipsed up the street towards it and saw a line outside, I guessed there weren’t many seats inside.

I was wrong. There weren’t any seats inside.

The queue moved excruciatingly slowly but we amused ourselves by whipping out our smartphones and attempting to photograph the hanging plant as creatively as possible. Queuing half an hour at a coffee stand? Instagramming? The Hipster Badge was ours.

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Omotesando Koffee is enclosed in a traditional old house with a tiny yet beautiful courtyard garden and a bench, blessed at this time of year with a beautiful red maple tree.

Inside is traditionally Japanese in style but with minimalist aesthetics and a coffee plant bonsai. Two guys were the other side of a smooth wooden counter, slowly making coffees one-by-one.

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I ordered a double cappuccino for 530 yen. Having experienced enough of Japanese coffee, I know that if they’re offering a choice between single or double espresso shot in your cappuccino or latte, you’re going to want the double, unless you’re a fan of warm milk.

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One friend took a macchiato and another took a mocha.
The macchiato was pure, strong caffeine heaven, being miniscule and served with a miniscule spoon.

The mocha – with just one shot – lacked both coffee and chocolate flavour, but my cappuccino was just right. Coffee flavour – mellow yet potent. It slipped down almost too quickly.

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We also sampled the ‘baked custard’, little greasy 170yen cubes, served fresh from the oven that tasted… of not much. They weren’t even particularly sweet. I guess it was a textural experience.

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Baked custard

But, with a well-executed cappuccino in hand, standing outside what has to be one of the quaintest coffee stores I’ve ever seen, praising the place like the coffee-connoisseur we pretend to be, I was very happy.
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We so hipster and happy

One of the staff told me that they’re looking for a new place right now so who knows if Omotesando Koffee might be reborn, as [INSERT NEIGHBOURHOOD HERE] Koffee.

…Anyone have an old house they’d like to lease?

NB: Apparently there is another store- one in Toranomon. Their website says the Kyoto branch closed in October but there is one coming soon in Hong Kong. A little far for me to go but…CAFFEINE DREAMS ARE ALWAYS GOOD.

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