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What's your favorite coffee shop chain in Japan?

52 Comments
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Starbucks pioneered the no-smoking concept in Japan. Respect!

These days, I most often get a latte from the convenience store and sit in a park.

12 ( +20 / -8 )

Iki Espresso is the best in Tokyo with a decent real coffee. It is not full of sugar and syrups that mask the taste of the coffee and adds unnecessary empty calories. Multinational chains are so formulaic.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I love Starbucks.

Especially the one in Omotesando on the 6th floor with the small garden on the roof.

And: No smoking at Starbucks!

1 ( +14 / -13 )

I voted for my local place.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I can't vote I have none.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

I like Tullys and Be A Good Neighbor Coffee Kiosk at Roppongi 1 chome station because I feel comfortable either sitting on a stool or standing while I sip chai and doodle or sketch on their counter tables.

@Monty There's a coffee shop in Shibuya near the post office where there is smoking. I was surprised because I thought there was no smoking in all coffee shops unless it's closed off.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I voted for S~bucks but another favorite was Kissetan.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The coffee at Starbucks is bitter tasting swill, but I voted for it because the atmosphere is good (compared to the garbage at Kissa), and it was the first place you could go and enjoy a coffee without the second-hand smoke of someone chaining it around you. Now the only problem is that they let people -- even non-customers -- sit in their stores for hours upon hours with no one else being able to get a seat. They need to kick people out for loitering, and remove items put on tables to "reserve" them if the people are not simply going up to order something (saw one woman last week put some bags on a seat then came back an hour later after having gone to a supermarket nearby. I was on my second coffee before she had even ordered anything there).

That said, for local chains I like Hoshino Coffee and Ueshima.

As a slight aside, I remember when Starbucks came out here and people grumbled about young people walking in the streets with tumblers and how take-out coffee was a non-starter, wouldn't fly here, etc. McDonald's and even Mr. Donuts would sell you coffee to go, but put it in a bag, with a lid you had to remove to drink. I chuckled at such grumblers and said it would take off, with convenience stores selling it within a decade. I think it was more like 12 years before that began, but I wasn't far off. Now it's pretty much the biggest seller at convenience stores, too.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

In Nagoya we have a chain of coffee shops called Komeda which are massively popular.

If you've ever been to one, you realize how damning a statement that is on Nagoya.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

I voted for Tully's just because I don't want to show support for Starbucks, but I must admit, I prefer getting a Mocha chip frappuccino from Starbucks and suck on that during a coffee date. I really would like to see a Tim Horton's in Tokyo somewhere though.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

It's a toss-up between Starbucks and Tully's. They're both friendly and have good consistent coffee and other drinks. I'm surprised Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is not listed. That place is good, too. I've never heard of Segafredo. Where's that in Japan?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

In 30 years I have come to the conclusion that there are practically only three types of coffee here - American type coffee, e.g. Starbucks, where the taste is very watery. I'm not saying it's bad, if you're used to it, you'll find the watery flavour tasty. The second type is overextracted coffee and the third is overroasted coffee with a burnt taste (most konbini). What I miss here is the absolutely ordinary but tasty coffee that you have several times a day like in Italy and off you go. With an ordinary crema.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

7−11

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Starbucks all the way. As others have mentioned, they're non smoking so that's a big reason. Their coffee's awful but let's be honest, who goes to Starbucks for a good coffee?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

When I liked coffee it was Doutor...

3 ( +7 / -4 )

You forgot to mention, peanuts are free @rainyday 12:43pm.

“In Nagoya, we have Komeda which are massively popular.”

and, dry soybeans for those with peanut allergies.

(Who thought of that one: peanuts with coffee?)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Starbucks. (Many have consento. Though, some new stores are limiting the number of holes.)

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Since I am teleworking I make coffee at home or buy a black cold canned coffee with no calories. You can save a lot of money if you avoid Starbucks and buy good coffee beans at Kaldi, etc. But there are no cute girls sitting nearby unlike Starbucks.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Starbucks makes a mean espresso without a doubt, the wait is worth it. Also when it comes to relaxing, socializing and ambiance, it’s hard to beat Starbucks, that and the fact that they close late is what’s appealing about the chain, more so than the coffee itself.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Starbucks is gross. They burn their coffee to give it a consistent flavor world-wide. No one with an actual taste for coffee would ever deign to stoop so low as Starbucks.

I enjoy the atmosphere at their shops, But their coffee is swill at best. Burnt crap that the American public loves, and has no bled out to other parts of the world.

I don't have a favorite chain in Japan. But I go to a local cafe down the road where roast their own beans, and do it right, none of this burnt Starbucks garbage.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

I always pay for the small coffee shops, Never the chains.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Back in 1990 there was a rather unique coffee shop in Shinjuku called No panchi kissa. No long closed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

All of the ones mentioned are disgusting. I only drink coffee I make myself from grinned beans!!!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Doutour sandwiches do it for me. Their coffee is smooth and rich.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Starbucks over priced swill.

Doutour sandwiches do it for me. Their coffee is smooth and rich.

I will second that!

Plus the no pretentious attitude from the "Baristas" which I find is such a joke.

Barista was just Italian for bartender and as a youth that was all it meant and was definitely not something to boast about.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

If I could afford it regularly I would get my coffee beans from Yanaka coffeten

https://www.yanaka-coffeeten.com/

You can chose your beans, type, make your own blend and decide what level of roast you want and sit back as they roast it while you wait, takes about 10 minutes.

Usually if you wait there they give you an espresso size coffee of their latest blend to try free.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My first visit to Japan there was only one Starbucks in Tokyo. I really never thought it would take off in Japan because there are so many good coffee shops already. But maybe that's why it took off because they love their coffee in Japan. And the no smoking was ahead the time in Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Mr. Donut for the free refills.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

In Nagoya we have a chain of coffee shops called Komeda which are massively popular.

If you've ever been to one, you realize how damning a statement that is on Nagoya.

Yes, Komeda is the corporate cash-in version of a fine shomin (working class) tradition, the Nagoya "morning". A "morning" is breakfast of toast, hard boiled egg, salad, fruit, onigiri, yakisoba, or whatever served up basically for free with a coffee at neighbourhood coffee shops in the Nagoya area. What you get depends on the owner, and is usually a generous free breakfast. At Komeda, all you get is half a slice of toast which has been chosen by an accountant running numbers on a spreadsheet. Something which is large enough to suggest you are getting something for free compared to Starbucks or Doutor, but pathetic compared to a proper Nagoya "morning" in a proper kissaten.

Komeda also does drinks that are kissaten staples, like melon floats and the 1970s Japan version of a milkshake, which it's hard to describe and probably best not thought of as a Western milkshake. So its a bit of a corporate nostalgia trip, and devoid of any of the character you will get in a proper kissaten. Just as Starbucks is devoid of any of the character you will find in a proper cafe.

fwiw, Starbucks uses fully automatic machines, so their baristas simply press a button. They stopped using regular machines that needed tamping and control of steam about ten years ago.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

We use a bean-to-cup machine at home and order beans from Coffee Tonya, either at their Nagano City branch or online. They roast em up on demand to your desired darkness and grind em however you want. They usually have one on special at 170 yen per 100g, the same price as the Kirkland/Starbucks coffee in Costco.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

like melon floats and the 1970s Japan version of a milkshake, which it's hard to describe and probably best not thought of as a Western milkshake. 

I know this is about coffee but I need to correct this serious mistake/misunderstanding.

A Mellon float has no connection to a Milkshake.

Some may not be old enough to know certain facts.

Long before milkshakes became popular Icecream floats were what people in North America drank on hot summer days in soda shops.

Root beer floats, etc..

Anyone that watch the old TV show Happy Days or saw the Movie American Graffiti. May remember.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Burnt crap that the American public loves

No, the majority of Americans don't like burnt anything especially coffee, Starbucks is hip for kids, the young, and people that want to relax, not for the REAL coffee connoisseur, and that is pretty much universal.

, and has no bled out to other parts of the world.

That's Free marketing and there is a reason why it's the largest consumer coffee shop in the world, even China can't resist it and in North Korea, they'll label it as something original they invented and put seals on it to hide the name.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Personally, I love either Dunkin Donuts or Tim Horton's coffee for the basic weekday, not that bad actually for a cup of brew. Still, I prefer a few selected small hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, I have a few regulars that I frequent when I'm in the States and a couple in Fukuoka.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

None of them. Soy milk laden sweet coffee flavored water. I grind and brew my own. FIL loves it too. Black Rifle Coffee is the best. Roasted when you order it. First order comes with free grinder and your home drip brewer works fine.

Comes the US to Japan in 6 days.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

7-11 Coffee is just as good as any major brand.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Can't beat the taste of 7-11 coffee hot or cold. Next, Family Mart.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Any place with a big smile and a nice Hello, or Good Morning, and the fresh smell of coffee will do for me.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Starbucks for the no smoking and general convenience. Also the consistency can't really be beat.

The Milano sandwich at Doutor is pretty good though.

There's a little coffee shop in my hometown in Hachioji just across the main road of the south exit of the station... bit pricy but their Koyasu-blend coffee is the best I've had in Japan. It's called Lamp Coffee if you're, for whatever reason, around there lol Never too busy and has a good atmosphere and friendly staff.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kissaten . . . .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fascinating the variety of opinions on coffee, how many denigrate the various chains yet still drink there!

I can’t comment on the various merits of coffee as I never drink the stuff any more. Much prefer tea but that is another conversation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Miss the Starbucks in Harajuku B-side by Cat Street. Best cafe to hangout after Thai for lunch at the Kaffir Lime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Starbucks sells mostly sweets that are supposed to be coffee. Doutor is very skimpy, doesn't come close to giving you a full cup and usually has tiny overcrowded shops. Excelsior is OK and the staff are usually very courteous but Tully's is the best for coffee. They also have nice modern locations around the main stations and there's one where the female staff are hotter than the coffee. Keeps me coming back.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Taster's Choice with a dash of Creap. Nothing beats that!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fill it to the rim with brim.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can save a lot of money if you avoid Starbucks and buy good coffee beans at Kaldi, etc. But there are no cute girls sitting nearby unlike Starbucks."

Im with you on that one Reckless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Byron Bay coffee is not bad but they only have a handful of shops.....can get a flat white there too , unlike in most others.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey AntiqueS

Yes, a melon float is not a milkshake. What I wrote about though is a drink Komeda and other kissatens sell as a セーキ. Its just milk, egg, sugar, and vanilla essence beaten together. It dates from back in the day along with other Japanese Western-style abominations like that Neopolitan spaghetti made with tomato ketchup. This drink does not deserve a name that could be confused with the (glorious) Western milkshake.

It should be noted that burger chains in Japan call their drinks シェイク to distance them from セーキ.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Caldi! Great coffee choices and drink as much as you want free.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kaldi, sorry for the type O face

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dotour and Cafe de Crie have the smoothest coffee for my taste.

And Sarutahiko Coffee is great too. Tully's is a little too bitter for me. Same with St Marc Cafe

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dotour hands down is the best, best service, best coffee, best food and best locations, I crave for Dotour coffee especially the ice coffee.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Starbucks, is good for volume when it comes to coffee, not taste though, but pretty much anything else you want, Tully's is the best. And their honey tea rocks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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