Every community should have their own coffee shop. In Tokyo, where communities are divided into train stations, there are a lot of gaps to fill. Many of the popular areas of the city are beginning to see a high saturation of third-wave coffee bars. Still, most residential areas and business districts are yet to benefit from the trend. In West Shinjuku, by Nishi-Shinjuku station, Counterpart Coffee Gallery aims to become the town’s local coffeehouse.
Glitch Coffee Roasters is one of Tokyo’s most respected coffee roasters. When Glitch’s founder, Suzuki Kiyokazu, saw the chance to expand coffee culture close to his home in Nisei-Shinjuku he took steps towards opening Counterpart. Suzuki says he prefers his shops to be away from the trendy areas where stores are expected to cater to fads—Gitch Coffee Roasters is located in Jimbocho, an area famous for used books and business buildings. He was also looking for a way to give more freedom and growth opportunities to his staff. Suzuki say’s he only stops in to Counterpart for occasional taste checks and let’s his colleagues run the shop as they like. “I want (specialty) coffee to grow. I want more baristas to have jobs,” says Suzuki.
Counterpart Coffee Gallery itself is a sliver of a building. The first floor crams in a coffee workspace—complete with La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine, Hario V60 pour-over bar, and two Mazzer Robur grinders— as well as a strip of counter seating facing a large window that looks out to the active streets by the station. A narrow staircase towards the back of the room follows the wall up to a second, and then a third floor. These upper floors offer plenty of cozy corners to curl up with your coffee, as well as counter and table seating for those who want to get some work done while they sip on their brew.
The coffee and simple pastry offerings are similar to what you will find at Glitch, but Counterpart has some imaginative signature beverages that can only be enjoyed in Nishi-Shinjuku. Their Brown Fizz is a slightly sweeter take on an espresso tonic that has a deep chocolatey espresso flavor with a tinge of zesty fruitiness and a mild sweetness. Split is a pleasant new take on an iced latte with strong hints of chocolate and orange to its flavor.
As I sip on my Brown Fizz, I roam around the floors of Counterpart Coffee Gallery. The upper floors are occupied by young customers who are taking a few moments out of their workday to recharge and stare out the corner windows at the crosswalk below. Others are typing away on their laptops, trying to meet some deadline. On the first floor the barista is taking a large drink order from a local bar owner. Two regulars are making small talk with each other as the lean against the counter. The vibe is welcoming and open; it’s not just the hip coffee crowd here. It looks like Nishi-Shinjuku has got their local coffeeshop.
Counterpart Coffee Gallery is located at: 3-12-16, Honmachi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
7:30 am – 8:00 pm
9:00 am – 8:00 pm