Tokyo’s Omotesando may be popular for its modern art galleries and its ultra-chic shopping boulevard, but coffee-lovers and foodie travelers alike almost always find themselves in its backstreets, braving an unmarked residential area, in search of the holy grail of Tokyo’s Third Wave Coffee.
When Omotesando Koffee opened its doors in 2011, it was just a coffee kiosk that fits snugly into the first floor of a charming old house. Finding the little kiosk was akin to a treasure hunt. But the first sip is so good – don’t get me started on their baked custard cubes – you would never regret getting lost.
A couple of months into its operations, one-man powerhouse Eiichi Kunitomo found himself serving up cup after cup, as he watches the line grow longer still. A majority of the crowd are tourists. It is somewhat surprising how it attracted such a cult-like following, considering one has to comb through the neighborhood just to find it; even locals would stare at you dumbfounded when asked for directions. Was it all about the chase?
Slowly but very surely, Omotesando Koffee became an institution. In retrospect, it might not have done so without its mastermind’s genius. He was able to introduce flavor profiles considered a bit too strong for the Japanese market with his well-balanced blends. If you ask, he will even tell you how he achieves that delicate flavor profile highly reminiscent of smooth dark Swiss chocolates.
Omotesando Koffee treads forward to an uncertain future, though, as the inevitable demolition of the old house just looms in the distance. It was only a matter of time, until we had to say “Goodbye”.
Omotesando Koffee had to close its doors last December 31. There’s not much reason to be crestfallen. On the one hand, there’ll always be Toranomon Koffee. On the other, one might just stumble into a coffee kiosk very much like Omotesando Koffee, while exploring Hong Kong sometime in the near future.