LATTEST {Omotesando}

Address: 3-5-2 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Website: http://lattest.jp/
Open: 10am – 7pm
Soy Milk: Yes

I had been wanting to try LATTEST for a while since I had walked past the cafe a few times before, but it closes too early for me to go after work, so it took a while for me to get the chance to go. Finally last weekend I was able to though! When I walked in, I immediately liked the interior of the cafe. Everything looked intentionally worn and cozy, giving the cafe a very comfortable, homey feeling. It just had one big table in the centre, with smaller tables scattered around the rest of the cafe with mix-matched chairs. The floors were concrete with graffiti, and the bar itself all made of wood. I liked it already.

It took a bit of time to get a seat because it was quite busy and no one seemed to be moving very quickly, but once we had a table we went up to check out the menu. LATTEST features a lot of different latte flavours, including hazelnut, matcha, and Bailey’s. They also have a drink called the “lattest,” which is their house special – a shot glass filled with milk and espresso. It’s quite expensive for a small amount of coffee so I gave it a pass this time, but it was incredibly popular amongst the other patrons of the cafe. As a fan of Irish creme flavour, I couldn’t pass up the Bailey’s latte.

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My latte definitely tasted like Bailey’s – and it was real alcohol that they put in it, not just flavouring, from the taste. Because I don’t drink alcohol personally I wasn’t very happy about that, but to someone who does, it’s a great chance to enjoy that kind fo coffee! My sister ordered a soy matcha latte, and typically soy never has latte art on it. However, at LATTEST, even her soy latte had a beautiful design! Sadly the coffee wasn’t very hot though, which was a bit strange.

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We stayed at LATTEST for a little while but it was actually quite loud and hard to hear one another, so it wasn’t very relaxing in the end. The acoustics in the cafe make everyone’s voices just a bit too overpowering. Overall I liked the aesthetics of the cafe and the chance to get some different kinds of lattes, but it wasn’t a good place for reading or writing, and the coffee should have been served hotter in my personal opinion. I hope to give it a second chance sometime, but I’m not in a hurry.

Pros: Variety of latte flavours, plenty of seats, cool interior
Cons: Coffee is not hot enough, too loud during busy periods, long waiting time

 

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Lotus {Omotesando}

Address: 4-6-8 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Website: n/a
Open: 11am – 3am (Sun-Thur), 11am – 4am (Fri-Sat)
Soy Milk: Yes

I finish work kind of late, so I found Lotus looking for somewhere that is open late on weeknights – and Lotus certainly is, until 3am actually! Perfect for those of us out late and not able to go to all the cafes that seem to close at 7pm. It’s a short walk from Omotesando station, and about 10-15 minutes from Harajuku station through quite a nice area. Be careful you don’t walk past the cafe like I did the first time – it’s not very well marked or distinct from the outside, with dark windows and only a small sign written in katakana (ロータス). Watch your GPS if you aren’t sure the first time.

When you enter Lotus, you’re greeted with the large glass case of today’s sweets and cakes, opposite the open kitchen where they are making everything right there! It looks deceptively small, but in reality has a massive basement of seating in addition to the small area upstairs. Lotus offers a full menu of food, mostly Italian or fish, at really reasonable prices. And of course, a range of coffees and desserts! Some of the more unique things were the coconut latte, and the caramelised latte. We got both – the flavoured latte came with the syrup on the side for you to add as much as you want. And the caramelised latte literally had a creme brulee-style topping!

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The sweets were also incredible. I enjoyed an apple and sweet potato tart that was fantastic, but it was a hard choice. They had so much fresh fruit on top of their fruit tarts, and lots of chocolate options for lovers of that.

As for the atmosphere, Lotus had a very unique feeling. The lighting was quite dark, but it suited the ambience. The entire cafe had a very unfinished or weathered look tot eh decor – lots of unfinished concrete and rough edges. It was a casual atmosphere that was easy to relax in. Plus, our waitress was incredibly nice (it was table service, not counter service) and happy to chat with us for a little bit too. I’ll definitely be going back to Lotus when I’m looking for somewhere open late (and next time for food too I think).

Pros: Lots of choices, great prices, open incredibly late, casual atmosphere, good service
Cons: Easy to miss, quite off the beaten path, dark lighting (don’t come here to study, write, or read too late at night)

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Fuglen Tokyo {Yoyogi Park}

Address: 1-16-11 Tomigaya, Shibuya, Tokyo
Website: http://www.fuglen.com/
Open: 9am – 7pm (M-F), 10am – 7pm (S-S)
Soy Milk: Yes

Fuglen Tokyo is a cafe that actually originated in Oslo, Norway but luckily has a Tokyo location for those of us not in Scandinavia. The cafe is a bit of a walk from stations on the Yamanote (the closest are Shibuya and Harajuku) but is a short walk from Yoyogikoen on the Chiyoda line and Yoyogi-Hachiman on the Odakyu. But if the weather is nice, my suggestion is to enjoy the walk through Yoyogi Park from Harajuku station to get there!

Fuglen feels very different on the inside to other cafes I have visited in Tokyo. Admittedly, the decor feels a bit aged and ragged, but I think it adds to the place’s charm. It does maintain a very vintage European feel to it and it’s hard to remember you’re in Japan. If you don’t like that sort of setting though, Fuglen has a lot of seats outside along the side of the cafe on a very quiet street which is a great option. And it has a lot of outlets inside, which is definitely a selling point.

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Be ready for Oslo prices though – my mocha set me back almost 800 yen, which is very expensive for Tokyo. The flavour was fantastic though, it was one of the darkest, richest mochas I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. The chocolate flavour was much stronger than normal (which makes me incredibly tempted to try their hot chocolate next time). They don’t have a lot of food to offer, but when I last visited, they did have donuts from Good Town Doughnuts in Harajuku (which are very, very good ).

The hours that I posted for Fuglen are specifically for what is called “Daylife,” meaning the time it operates as a cafe and you are able to order coffee. The establishment continues to be open into the wee hours of the morning for a “Nightlife” version selling alcohol. Plan your timing carefully depending on what you want!

Pros: Fantastic coffee, lots of outlets, lots of seating inside and outside, unique charm
Cons: Very expensive, out of the way location, minimal food

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

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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.

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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

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Cafe Reissue {Harajuku}

Address: 3-25-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://reissue.jp/
Open: 12pm – 11pm
Soy Milk: No

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Cafe Reissue is so small, you’re likely to miss it if you don’t know what you are looking for. The first time that I found it, it was a total accident. I was actually on my way to the nearby Streamer Coffee Company and happened to glance over to see a small sign with pictures of amazing latte art on it. I made a mental note to come back later to check it out, and I am really glad that I did.

Only a few minutes walk from the famous Takeshita Dori in Harajuku, and up a very small staircase with only a small sign, you will find Cafe Reissue. It has a very homey interior of mix-matched chairs, a few tables, and a lot of old books. The baristas there are very friendly, and willing to take your phone number and give you a call if there isn’t currently a seat available to come back when there is because there isn’t any spae to wait. And it is definitely worth the wait.

What makes Cafe Reissue so unique is undoubtedly the latte art. For an extra 400 yen, you can request anything that you want in your coffee, and either in 2D or 3D style (I’ve had one of each so far). How can they do anything, you ask? Well the menu has a very interesting infographic to explain it to you, but I’ll tell you here as well. All you have to do is pull up a picture on your mobile phone, and they will take a picture of your screen and then disappear to make the magic happen. You can even get real photos done this way of your pets or family! The man next to me my first trip got a picture done of his cat.

So if you’re really into latte art, and especially if you have more obscure interests (such as me and giant squid, I absolutely love them and my squid art will always be special to me!) this is a great place to check out. You can luckily get latte art on most of their hot drinks, including hot cocoa if you don’t like coffee. Cafe Reissue also has some food and cake as well if you’re hungry, but the main draw is definitely the art!

Pros: Best latte art ever, super unique experience every time, really nice staff
Cons: Very expensive if you want art (base coffee price is around 600 yen and the art is another 400 yen), limited seating, very busy during peak times

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Streamer Coffee Company [Harajuku/Shibuya]

Address: 3-28-19, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo [Harajuku location], 1F 1-20-28, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo [Shibuya Location]
Website: http://streamercoffee.com/
Open: 9am – 6pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 6pm (Sat, Sun, Hol)
Soy Milk: Yes (extra cost)

Admittedly, I’m not sure where to start on this blog, so I after procrastinating for a week, I’ve finally settled on my first post.

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Streamer Coffee Company is known for something very special – really fantastic latte art. I don’t mean the kind that looks like your pet cat or Pikachu this time, but rather very traditional tulips, hearts, and more. However, they look absolutely perfect! You know a cafe is serious about its latte art when the picture in their window is a decal of a free pour tulip.

Speaking of the building, Streamer looks awesome! There are two locations in Tokyo, one between Shibuya and Harajuku that is quite small (only one room, quite limited seating but a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere) and one much larger one just off Harajuku St and Cat St in Harajuku. This building is incredibly unique – it looks like three shipping crates stacked on top of one another, sitting right on the corner of an intersection. Expect an industrial, modern interior with concrete floors, grated metal stairs, and leather sofas. The top floor also has a balcony so you can people watch while you enjoy your drink.

As for the menu, Streamer offers the usual suspects, along with a seasonal drink. When I was there, it was a honey milk latte, though I ordered my usual mocha. As expected, the art on my mocha was beautiful, and the taste was great – very dark, and pleasantly bitter.

Pros: Good coffee, convenient location, unique building
Cons: Closes at 6PM so not great for going after work, limited seating, minimal food

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