Late Night Tokyo Cafes: 6 Places to Find Great Java after Hours
While it’s not quite the “Coffee Capital” of Asia just yet, Tokyo is home to a lively and rapidly growing coffee scene. More and more Tokyo coffee shops are becoming known for their focus on high-quality roasts, craftsmanship, and great pours. These indie stands and cafés have been challenging major chain retailers (i.e., Starbucks) and raising the general level of coffee culture in the city. Unfortunately, most of these independent shops close by around 7 p.m., leaving those looking for a late-night perk to seek out chain cafés and convenience stores once the last trains stop running.
So where do java connoisseurs in Tokyo go when most coffee shops are closed for the night? Here’s our list of the best cafés in Tokyo that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning of coffee-craving insomniacs:
This tiny coffee shop just outside of JR Ebisu Station's West Exit may only seat a handful, but it's a popular late-night spot whose warm and friendly staff will literally entice you in off the street for a nice cup of joe. Sarutahiko Coffee first started as a pour-over coffee shop but now serves espresso, as well. Their premium line of blends and single origin coffees is playfully named the "Jedi" series—it's that good. They've also been stepping up their latte art game: one of Sarutahiko's baristas took 1st place in the 2014 Japan Latte Art Championship. Although most of the shop's interior space is dedicated to making coffee, the numerous coffee siphons, drip stations, and percolators add to Sarutahiko's cozy Bohemian atmosphere. If you can snag a chair, you're in luck, but carry-out is just as good.
Address : 1-6-6 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
closes 12:30 a.m.
Named for the popular Australian beach town, Bondi Café exudes a cool beachy vibe with its spacious interior, natural wood furniture, and surf paraphernalia. There are plenty of sofas and throw blankets for lounging as well as an open terrace, which makes this the perfect place to chill for a few hours, after hours. They offer an extensive food menu, and the coffee’s pretty good, too. Bondi Café takes their Australian influence seriously—the "flat white", a popular espresso beverage that originated in Australia, tops the coffee menu. There are two locations: one near Hiroo Station and a second shop near Yoyogi Park in the Tomigaya neighborhood. The Yoyogi Park location, in particular, is known to be frequented by Japanese models and a few celebrities.
Address : 1-15-2 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo & Minami-Azabu 5-15-9, Minato-ku, Tokyo
closes 2:00 a.m.
Coffee Kizoku Edinburgh
Shinjuku is often called the "city that doesn't sleep", and this 24-hour coffee shop, which recently moved to Shinjuku Sanchome after 40 years in the Kabukicho area, is a perfect example of that. While the name may throw you for a loop (the Scottish capital isn't exactly known for its coffee), Coffee Kizoku Edinburgh—or simply, "Edinburgh"—serves up a mean cup of siphon-brewed java. This means that every coffee is made to order, not brewed in some communal pot that's been left sitting out for too long. Order a café au lait and your freshly siphoned coffee is served tableside, where it’s deftly poured by the accommodating staff into your cup via an individually-sized long spout coffee pot simultaneously with some heated milk. Edinburgh offers over 20 varieties, including Viennese and Irish coffees. The slightly higher-than-average prices are balanced out with free Wi-Fi and some great people-watching opportunities.
Address : 3-2-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku M&E Square Bldg 2F, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
open 24 hours
"Oshare", meaning "stylish" in Japanese, is a word commonly used to describe Tokyo’s Nakameguro neighborhood, and FRAMES is no exception. The café is popular with the young and fashionable, yet FRAMES manages to maintain a casual, laid-back atmosphere, and it’s not unusual to see people bringing their dogs here on weekends and holidays. The interior is simple, bright, and spacious with plenty of seating, and there’s patio seating as well if you want to be close to the action outside. FRAMES is located by a particularly lively stretch of the Meguro River, and come springtime you’ll be right in the middle of all the cherry blossom-seeking crowds. In addition to food, FRAMES offers a wide array of desserts—including a large selection of delectable-looking cakes—and seasonal lattes on top of their regular coffee menu.
Address : 1-18-6 Kamimeguro, NM Bldg 1F, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
closes 4:30 - 5:00 a.m.
LATTEST Azabujuban Espresso & Bar
If you're in the Roppongi Hills area, you may notice the evening crowds congregating around the Starbucks-TSUTAYA combo at the bottom of the hill. However, just a short walk away, there is a better cup of coffee to be found. LATTEST Azabujuban Espresso & Bar is the sister shop of the well-known LATTEST Omotesando Espresso Bar. And although the Omotesando branch may be the better known of the two, it closes at 7 p.m., while the Azabujuban location keeps on going until the wee hours of morning. The first floor features a rather spartan-looking bar, lending it an ultra-hip atmosphere, but if you don’t care to sit face-to-face with your barista, there’s also table seating upstairs on the 2nd floor. Coffee is served until midnight, and after that LATTEST's focus turns to food, wine, and cocktails.
Address : 2-8-1 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
coffee served until midnight, closes 5:00 a.m.
This trendy "manga art café" can't be considered quite as late-night as the other coffee shops on our list, but Café Zenon, which closes just after midnight, is one of the best places for an evening coffee in the popular Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji. The café was founded by a local manga company, which probably has a lot to do with the cute and unusual latte art found here—they even take requests. Café Zenon is meant to be a creative space for people to work on their art, and they’re known just as much for their eclectic décor as they are for their latte art. The café’s funky pop art interior was inspired by classic manga, and they have a massive chandelier made out of old comic book magazines that’s worth checking out. There’s free Wi-Fi available, as well as power outlets, if you’re looking to bring a laptop and get some work done.
Adress : 2-11-3 Kichijoji Minami-cho, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Author : Ellie Nguyen/Sekaihe Bokan
Ellie Nguyen is an American writer currently living and working in Tokyo. She enjoys trekking throughout Japan to report on the country’s unique food and restaurant culture. Be sure not to miss any of her articles posted exclusively on Gurunavi.com.