snapshots and observations

Saturday, 14 April 2012

omotesando koffee

it was a bit of a mission of mine that one day in tokyo i would try to
find a little coffee shop called omotesando koffee.

armed with a hand drawn map and having left my umbrella in the tiny
coffee joint near loopwheeler, i met up with yudai, my translator and
we traipsed through the tiny back streets of harajuku and omotosando
in the pouring rain. it was dark and cold too ( not that i'm moaning )

after a little while i spotted it
it's difficult to explain but this really is a hidden gem. the tiny winding backstreets
of omotesando don't have names. it's almost like the shop is just off a pavement
and is in somebody's back garden.
unfortunately i couldn't take a shot of the whole place and show how you
approach it because it was pouring down with rain and it was quite dark too.

i would best describe it as being like a shed at the back of a house.

the whole place is shaped like a cube and most things in there are cube shaped too.
or maybe i should say it's all straight lines and everything looks like it clips together,
you know, like it's a quick assembly thing.
here's a shot i took from just outside.
you can kind of see what i mean can't you ?
there's a metal cubed frame inside the wooden shed and the counter is also made from
cubed sections of wood

there's a sign inside the place, ( which i kept cracking my head on )
it's very stylish isn't it ?

here's the menu
just 9 drinks available.
once again there's the cube theme running through the place
with the drinks being divided up into squares and the paper being held
down by a glass cube paperweight

there was a little display by the one ( square ) window in the place
all quite cubey

only one type of snack was available to go with your coffee
naturally enough they are cube shaped

i think they are called toasted custard cubes ( repetition of the word 'cube' i know )
they are kind of cakey or spongey on the outside with a custard filling

no word of a lie, it was the best thing i've ever eaten with a coffee
here it is alongside my specially made flat white.
the cake is served up in a paper coffee filter by the way

the filters also act as business cards and have a map on the back
( yeah, good luck with that map ! )

here's another look at what i seriously reckon was one of the best flat whites
i've ever had
yudai, who was translating for me, treated himself to a baileys cappuccino.
which he said was very nice indeed.

yudai asked the owner if it was ok for me to take photos and also asked
a few questions about omotosando koffee.
the owner's name is eichii kunimoto and he told yudai all about the place
while he was scuttling around making more coffees for us

it turns out that the whole place is indeed a sort of build-it-yourself unit.
supposedly it can easily be taken to pieces and driven over to say a park
or another venue and easily set-up again. a pop-up coffee shop if you like.
there were no seats inside the place, but there was standing room for a few people.
while we were there another two small groups came and went. both groups faces
lit up when they stepped into the place. also they both had a hand-drawn map each...
it was as if everybody is on a quest to find the place.

watching eichii work was very interesting. it was like he was a performer
on a stage... or perhaps it was like watching a scientist at work in a laboratory ?
it's  a one man operation and he had everything perfectly set up... it was
a very slickly run joint.

all the time he was working with the machine, the milk and the coffee,
he chatted away to yudai, who in turn translated for me.
the story is that he was given this tiny plot of land to open his coffee shop
but only on a 12 month lease. then when it was almost time for him to pack up,
there was an outcry from the locals who convinced the landlord to give him another
year ( at least ) to operate here.

he told us that the magazine 'monocle' did a feature on the place
and that did wonders for business from tourists.

if you check on the internet there is definitely a buzz about this place. 
if you like coffee and you're in tokyo you just have to search it out.

here are a few of the many pics i took while sheltering from the cold and rain
and sipping away at my flat white.
sorting the milk out, judging it by sight

watching closely as the coffee drips into the cups
this is when eichii was making us our second drinks

there was definitely a feeling that eichii was a bit of a coffee scientist.
maybe that's the wrong word... what i mean is, he took so much care making our 
coffees. it was a very precise thing. they probably took longer to make than any coffee
i've had before but watching him you could see the reason was that he
was taking so much care about making the drinks was that he was actually very
passionate about coffee and his business... taking pride in his work.
i know i'm taking too long to tell you about this place.
too many photos, too many words...
but it really was something very, very special to be in this magical little cube
standing in the warmth while outside was cold, dark and wet.

watching a master at work making the best coffee i can recall drinking

as you'd expect, even his lab coat was pretty stylish
with just a simple square stitched onto it

here's my second flat-white
woah !

and here's a shot of the happy barista
i think he was smiling because i spoke no japanese and just kept giving
him the 'thumbs up' sign as i jabbered away in english at him.

one last portrait
i was very sad to leave omotesando coffee, 
but very glad i'd found it.

bye bye eichii-san

if you do a google search for 'omotesando koffee' you will find quite a few
articles and blog posts about it. some have photos of the exterior and some have
more in depth details about the place.
i'd like to say that none have photos quite as good as mine but maybe i'm 
just searching for a compliment here ?

anyway, trust me... if you're ever in tokyo, find this place.

maybe ask me and i'll draw you a map !

1 comment:

  1. Glad you found it. Loved all the photos and words, your enthusiasm shines through. I hope this guy manages to stay there, a worldwide legend is born...