Musashi Koyama, a town in Tokyo’s Shinagawa-ward, isn’t the first stop on many travelers’ lists. It’s a place where people live, and a place where the local community support each other. Musashi Koyama’s claim to fame is its half-mile long shopping street, or shotengai, in Japanese. This covered pedestrian street, named Palm, is filled with eateries, grocery stores, fashion stalls, and more. It isn’t a polished and trendy place. It’s a place where real people go to eat, shop, and pass the time. Here, a few side streets away from the endless storefronts of Palm, is a cafe that many might overlook: Amameria Espresso.
The coffee is good at Amameria Espresso. There’s always an interesting variety of coffees from a variety of places. Beans are roasted to a medium-light level, so there’s a subtle sweetness to their brews. Amameria’s mission is simple: Bring out the sweetness and individual flavors of each bean. If there is one thing that owner, Toshiaki Ishii, doesn’t want from his coffee it’s roast flavor. Too dark, he says, and it tastes charred. Too light, and the coffee tastes grassy. It’s the sweet spot in the middle that he’s aiming for. Ishii is obsessive about his coffee’s quality.
Amameria opened in 2010, and to the relatively young specialty coffee industry in Tokyo, this shop is something of an institution; and it’s owner a trailblazer. Yet, Ishii comes off as kind and down to earth. He is thoughtful in his speech, warm, and approachable. He’s also a man who wants to know how things work and how to make them better. Since first touching an espresso machine in 2002, he has been obsessed with learning all the ins and outs of coffee. His drive to make better coffee, and his desire to bring espresso culture to Tokyo, led him to open an espresso bar. He picked Musashi Koyama because he wanted to work and live in the same town, and this community seemed like a great place to set up a life.
The interior of Amameria is a lot like Ishii himself. It’s a welcoming and warm space. A combination of red brick, well-worn wood, and comfortable furniture decorate the shop. It doesn’t have the manufactured feeling that some freshly-pressed coffeeshops have. A piano sits in one corner—there wasn’t enough room in Ishii’s home—and his son’s bicycle is leaned up against the well-used four-kilogram Lucky Roaster. There’s the feeling of a real connection between the cafe and the lives that revolve around it.
The coffee roaster in Amameria is earning its keep. Ishii spends around eight hours a day roasting to keep up with demand. He knows it’s time to upgrade to a larger machine, but it was a struggle to keep the doors open during his first few years of business, so he isn’t complaining about the workload now. Right after opening Amaeria in 2010 a flashy chain cafe opened down the road. An especially long rainy season persisted for months after that. The 2011 Fukushima earthquake also halted business for a time. But Ishii and his staff pushed on, and now they are enjoying recognition in their community and beyond.
Amameria Espresso is a shop more concerned with coffee than anything else. Their commitment to serving quality drinks while providing top customer service is the reason for their success. In an industry full of fad-followers and opportunistic entrepreneurs it’s good to see that a shop like Amameria and a man like Ishii are looked too as a standard.
Amameria Espresso is located at 3-6-15 Koyama, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
|Sat, Sun, and Holidays||
10:00 am – 8:00 pm
|Third Thursday of Each Month||