Photography for this post was done by the talented Charles Nguyen. Follow Charles on instagram @cnfusd
If you’ve ever made the walk down Cat Street between Shibuya and Harajuku stations this spot may have caught your eye. It caught mine when I first began to search for top-rate espresso in Tokyo.
The outside of The Roastery is hip, yet inviting. The open air seating is made of dark wood, and often the clientele sitting outside have a fashionable and international vibe to them. The interior is darkly lit and bustles with activity. The staffs’ work place is in the center of the cafe, an island of coffee equipment, and baristas work purposefully within this central hub to serve the hoards of curious customers. I met this shops manager, Keisuke, by the quieter outside seating and he proceeded to introduce me to the world of Nozy Coffee.
Keisuke was really generous with his time, since this was an unscheduled interview, and his passion for the coffee trade was clear. He also didn’t mind that my new friend, Charles, was snapping away behind his camera nearby.
I first asked Keisuke what Nozy Coffee’s coffee philosophy was. He had a very simple answer for me: Single origin. This means using one type of coffee bean from one place when making coffee. Nozy Coffee wants to present coffee as it is, and have people enjoy it. Simplicity. In Japan hot coffee usually means “blend coffee,” or burendo, as it’s called here. The word blend is equal to the word coffee. It isn’t common for the drinker to think about what beans are in that blend. Nozy coffee offers a rotating cast of single origin coffees and the customer is presented two to choose from when they order their drink. By having the customer pick their bean and giving a few tasting notes about the choices it helps the customer become engaged in their coffee, and by becoming engaged it makes the experience fun for them. It also creates an interest in coffee in general. The person may think, “Oh, so this is what Columbian coffee tastes like. I wonder what the Ethiopian tastes like…”
I was also curious about why The Roastery was built on Cat Street, an area more famous for fashion than restaurants. The reason for this blends with their mission; Nozy Coffee wants to introduce good coffee to as many people as possible. By having The Roastery by Nozy Coffee in an area with high foot traffic they have a better chance of serving many people, rather than just coffee fans. The aim is to expand the world of coffee.
The Roastery’s menu is a a simple one. As a barista and as a purist I love it. Three options: Espresso, americano, and cafe latte. After that you have two choices of single origin beans. I’ve personally seen people turn away from the counter in dismay because a vanilla chai latte wasn’t available, so I was curious why Nozy Coffee decided to take the minimalist route. The reason isn’t a snobby one at all. The menu is designed to be easy to understand, to allow people to enjoy coffee for being coffee, and to encourage a customer’s curiosity about coffee. The guys over at Nozy want people who think they hate coffee to try their coffee. They are in the coffee trade, so they want to sell coffee. Keisuke said that they don’t have anything against other cafe beverages, but that’s not what their speciality is. “It would be something like a French restaurant serving Italian dishes.” he said. Syrups and added flavors didn’t make it on the menu either. Once again Keisuke said they has nothing against those things, but it takes away from the coffee experience.
If you find yourself on a walk in Shibuya or Harajuku, and are heading the way of Cat Street, I’d recommend you stop in to see the crew at The Roastery. Better yet, just make a visit to this cafe the main event. I’ve had some the best espresso in Tokyo at this shop, and their tasting descriptions are amazing. If espresso based drinks aren’t your thing head to the way back of the store where they sell coffee beans and ask for a pour over. They’ll be happy to make you one (and you’ll be happy to drink it.)
The Roastery is located at: Shibuya-ku, Jingumae, 5-17-13, Tokyo