Gorilla Coffee {Ikebukuro}

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

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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!

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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

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Coffee Valley {Ikebukuro}

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

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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!

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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

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