About Life Coffee Brewers is a cafe located in Shibuya that is owned and staffed by Onibus Coffee. I first encountered About Life on my first Tokyo coffee walk. It was a sweltering July day and I had only moved to the greater Tokyo area a matter of weeks before. I had been steered in About Life’s direction by another big player on the Tokyo coffee stage. When I asked the cafe owner at Switch Coffee for a recommendation in Shibuya, he quickly dropped About Life’s name without missing a beat. I was determined to visit and map out the top Tokyo coffee shops, and About Life didn’t disappoint.
I strolled up to the small coffee shop via a backstreet and was quickly taken by the sleekness and practicality of it’s design. Somehow in a space roughly 5 feet by 20 feet (give or take a few in either direction) they’ve managed to cram in a fully functioning espresso bar as well as hand-drip coffee station. The place is built in to one corner of a multi-use, multi-story, white bricked building and utilizes that arrangement to their advantage with an ordering and pickup window on both the cafe’s two faces. There are a few small wooden benches on the long side of the shop, and a very small seating space inside. There are also hooks on the side of the building to hang bicycles, which adds to the character of the cafe quite a bit. I was assured by one of the baristas that in Tokyo there are no need for bike locks (probably). At sometime while making these observations the importance of this cafe struck me.
At this time I don’t plan on doing to many individual cafe write ups, but I felt that this particular shop needed mention. I’m writing this little piece on About Life for the same reason that I feel it stands out among other cafes: it’s the perfect portal in to the modern Tokyo coffee world. You will always have 2 choices of espresso (one from their parent company Onibus, and one from an outside roaster), you will always have at least 4 choices of hand drip coffee (you guessed it, multiple roasters are featured), and they will always be expertly prepared. That’s really something special. You can sample some of Japan’s best and brightest coffee companies’ goods all in one place (and often other countries too)without breaking a sweat. They even open at 8:30 AM! (Almost every other shop worthwhile in Tokyo usually sleeps in until 10)
The primary goal of Tokyo Coffee is to be a guide for coffee lovers and coffee tourists in Japan. That being said, I urge you: if you go to just one cafe while you’re in the area go to About Life. You’ll be able to pick from a number of choice beans and you won’t have to strain yourself. You’ll also get an opportunity to look super hip on Instagram.
About Life Coffee Brewers is located at:
Shibuya-ku Dougenzaka 1-19-8, Tokyo