Deus ex Machina {Harajuku}

Address: 3-29-5 Jingumae, Harajuku, Tokyo
Website: http://deuscustoms.com/cafes/harajuku/
Open: 9am – 9pm (M-F), 9am – 8pm (S-S)
Soy Milk: Yes

13936866_10154459047801318_535413377_n

When we first approached Deus ex Machina, I was already in love. I really like industrial and modern designs, and the slate grey, square building with the small metal door and floor to ceiling windows was exactly to my tastes. We stepped inside to a spacious cafe with long tables, multiple levels, an exposed staircase, dark wood and metal everywhere. A little bit of a walk from Harajuku station, but the area around Harajuku Street and Cat Street is already really awesome, so it’s certainly not a boring trek.

Deus ex Machina has a really large menu of drinks, sweets, and sandwiches. I personally was very intrigued by the mocha and marshmallow sandwich, so that was what I ordered, along with the speciality drink – a maple latte. They also had the usual teas, coffee, and soda. They even boast sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, and pulled BBQ pork.

13941117_10154459047806318_818362667_n

It was a weeknight when I went, so we were able to sit and chat for a long time without it being very busy. The food was presented on awesome wooden plates with the shop’s logo in powdered sugar, and my lactose intolerant sister was very happy with the latte art on her soy latte. My maple latte didn’t taste necessarily like maple, but it was very sweet and undeniably delicious. I’ll be going back for a savoury sandwich next time – I could never have expected they would set a s’mores sandwich down in front of me. It was very good! But not for the faint of heart.

Pros: Large menu, lots of seating, unique building
Cons: Out of the way location, not many outlets, slow service

13942740_10154459047831318_141250572_n

Gorilla Coffee {Ikebukuro}

Address: 1-12-1 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo
Website: http://gorillacoffee.jp/
Open: 8:30am – 10pm
Soy Milk: Yes

gorilla

Gorilla Coffee, famous from New York City, has a new location in Ikebukuro out the South Exit near Lumine shopping mall (so not the side with Sunshine City most people use). And since that is my neighbourhood, of course I had to go and check it out. The cafe is pretty big – don’t be deceived by the standing-room-only downstairs (but with convenient outlets to recharge your phone), because there is plenty of room upstairs. The cafe’s style is modern, and upstairs looks like an industrial city loft with concrete, unfinished wood, and exposed ventilation shafts and beams. You can find plenty of Banksy art books to browse through while you’re sitting there, and the walls are covered with stickers and graffiti.

But what about the food? Well, Gorilla Coffee boasts a wide selection of sweets including very decadent cakes alongside more simple baked goods and plenty of puddings and other mysterious sweets in jars that I’m not entirely sure what they are (like something called bread in a jar). It also has a selection of savoury food including a lot of sandwiches, and my personal favourite, the egg slut. If the name isn’t enough to make you interested, an egg slut is an egg, bacon mashed potatoes, and basil sauce all cooked together in a glass jar and served with crusty bread for dipping – fantastic! And mashed potatoes in Japan are an amazing find!

IMG_5617

And of course, that brings us to the coffee. Gorilla has all the usual suspects along with a few more unique flavours. I’m not a fan of iced coffee, but I’m curious to try Monkey Business sometime, which is cinnamon, cloves, and honey mixed with rice milk. They also have American style, which is apparently cola and coffee mixed together. And finally, there are plenty of non-coffee drinks like choco-banana milkshakes and frozen lemonade too.

My personal favourite part? The baristas are more than happy to do the latte art at a low part of the counter in front of you so you can see them do it, and I love watching. Too bad the coffee doesn’t taste better – it’s okay of course, but definitely not my top choice. The food, though, is delicious!

Pros: Lots of seating, massive menu of sweets and savoury, unique flavours and choices
Cons: Coffee isn’t that great

IMG_5620

Coffee Valley {Ikebukuro}

Address: 2-26-3 Minami Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://coffeevalley.tumblr.com/
Open: 8am – 10pm
Soy Milk: Yes

IMG_5169

I love living near Ikebukuro, it’s a very convenient and fun area of Tokyo to be in. There’s always plenty to do and see, loads of restaurants and shopping, and plenty of unique things like Japan’s largest PokeCentre and the world’s biggest anime store. But what Ikebukuro is severely lacking in is non-chain coffee shops. Thankfully, I recently discovered an exception – Coffee Valley.

Less than ten minute’s walk from the East side of Ikebukuro station, Coffee Valley is tucked down a small alleyway with a tiny door and sign, so it’s very easy to miss so be ready to use your phone the first time you visit. But once you’re inside, the cafe is surprisingly big with a decent-sized upstairs and quite a few tables, as well as a long counter. The interior is minimalist and all light woods, making it feel very warm and cosy.

Then there’s the coffee, which is arguably some of the best-tasting I have had in Tokyo. Coffee Valley is a proper espresso shop, with most of it’s drinks featuring their espresso. My recommendation if you are only going to stop by once is to try the “Three Peaks,” which is their speciality. It is a sample of three cups at once – one shot of espresso, one cup of their drip coffee, and one macchiato. Though their mocha and cappuccino are very good, too!

IMG_5472

Coffee Valley doesn’t have a lot of food to pick from, but everything I have tried has been delicious. I also recommend their toast plate, which is a thick slice of really good bread, lightly toasted, with honey and butter on the side and a hard boiled egg. It’s a perfect side dish for their coffee!

Pros: Amazing espresso, plenty of seats, quiet atmosphere, nice interior
Cons: Difficult to find, staff not always extremely friendly to outsiders. not a wide selection of food

IMG_5474