The Tokyu Denentoshi Line stretches between downtown Shibuya and the commuter towns of Yokohama. It runs through central Setagaya, an area of Tokyo with a lot of heart and whose residents hold a great deal of pride in their home. As third-wave coffee culture spreads throughout Tokyo and beyond, several cafes have made their mark in these parts. Here are a few of the top spots along these train tracks, starting from the bottom.
Futakotamagawa, affectionately known as Niko Tama, is a quickly growing area in the outskirts of Tokyo. The station is surrounded by high-rise department stores and luxury boutiques as well as desirable apartment buildings. Just a few minutes from the station is Takashima-ya, a department store filled with the finer things (see: expensive).
Nestled in the center of the first floor you’ll find Coutume.
(Note 5/16/16) Coutume recently closed their Futakotamagwa location. This section will be updated shortly
Coutume is Parisian in origin but has begun to make itself at home here in Japan. The cafe space is beautiful, crisscrossed wood hangs from the ceiling while bright lights accent the light tones of the walls and tables. You can grab a decent pastry here as well as a pour-over or a shot of espresso. The sticker price for the coffee is a little high, but it is an import from France. They offer both house blends and single origin coffees for filter coffee and espresso. The espresso is floral and syrupy sweet while the filter coffee is light in body and subtle in flavor.
A few stops up the line is Yoga. Yoga is my favorite kind of Tokyo town— well-worn, charming, and just a little gritty. The little shops crowded around each other and have a genuine character that only comes with time, and the people here seem to care about their town and its community. Here amongst the old concrete buildings and local businesses live Woodberry Coffee Roasters’ two locations.
The first, smaller shop, is located just two minutes from the station’s east exit on Oyama Street. This little hole in the wall is a to-go location and offers espresso based beverages. It’s cozy and inviting here with a certain earnestness that’s hard to come by. This little shop was designed and built by the Woodberry crew and its homemade hipness is inspiring.
Down the road, about four minutes from the south exit is the main Woodberry shop, a cafe with interior seating as well as benches outside. Here you can get both pour-overs and espresso drinks. Behind the counter sits not only the espresso machine and pour-over station, but also their little Lucky Roaster. You can often see it in action since they are roasting on and off all day. This shop too was built by the crew, so if you like their style be sure to pay them a compliment. It’s a great spot for a cup of coffee and a homemade pastry.
Another 5 minutes up the train line is Sangenjaya Station, which is the portal to a number of great shops. On the north side of the station, down a busy retail street, is Obscura Laboratory. Obscura Laboratory is primarily a to-go style cafe and offers a number of coffees as well as espresso. There isn’t seating here, but you can still get a ceramic cup for your espresso if you don’t mind standing. They change the espresso bean offering often here, based on what the barista finds to be tasting best that day. They also offer samples of their various coffees to help customers make the decision of what beans to buy easier.
On the other side of the station, down some fun and crowded shopping streets, you’ll find Cafe Obscura. This second Obscura location is a proper sit down cafe and is inspired by the traditional kissaten (Japanese coffeehouse) style. In addition to their coffee they offer several food items. The most interesting part of this comfortable shop is their brew method. All coffee is made via siphon brewer, which is always fun to watch. I had been a bit hard on siphon brewing before I went here, namely because I had never had a good cup of siphon coffee before. Obscura proved me wrong. This is a great spot for a chat with a friend or a brunch date.
A little further from the station is Nozy Coffee. If you happen to be hanging around Setagaya Park and are looking for a good espresso then head over to Nozy. This cafe is perhaps better known for its location near Harajuku, The Roastery by Nozy Coffee. This smaller, quieter shop offers a great cup of coffee. Cafe seating is above the brew bar, so you can get an aerial view of the baristas at work, which is a very novel experience. The coffee is always solid here, and there are two choices of espresso to boot. If it’s a nice day, grab a cup of coffee to go and take a stroll around the park. Sounds good, right?
If you find yourself on the Denentoshi Line, or near any of these stations, make your way to one of these great cafes. You’ll not only get a good cup of coffee, but also benefit from the surroundings of these charming urban towns.
Woodberry Coffee Roasters is located at: Setagaya-ku, Tamagawadai, 2-22-17, Tokyo
Woodberry Coffee Roasters Oyama Street Location: Setagaya-ku, Yoga, 4-11-2, Tokyo
Obscura Laboratory is located at: Setagaya-ku, Taishido, 4-28-9, Tokyo (Closed on the third Wednesday of each month)
Cafe Obscura is located at: Setagaya-ku, Sangenjaya, 1-9-16, Tokyo (Closed on the third Wednesday of each month)
Nozzy Coffee is located at: Setagaya-ku, Shimouma, 2-29-7, Tokyo