Only a 15 minute train ride from central Tokyo is Kiyosumi Shirakawa, a residential area that has become increasingly popular as Tokyo’s newest coffee town. From 2012 to 2014, more than 12 cafes opened in this lesser known parts of town. Thanks to its location near the Sumida River, the area has been a distribution hub with many high ceiling timber warehouses ideal for installing large coffee roasting machines.
1. Arise Coffee Roasters
Taiju Hayashi turned one of these old warehouses into Arise Coffee Roasters, a café that had room for a large roasting machine. Since its opening, this tiny café has been a big hit, a queue forms outside the shop every weekend. The success is partially due to the owner’s friendliness and welcoming character. He always loves introducing local interests and telling you about what’s going on around the town. Also, he will have a good coffee recommendation for anyone’s tastes. The shop is among the very few places in the neighborhood offering beans imported from Thailand.
Arise Coffee, with their specialty Thai coffee beans
2. Arise Coffee Entangle
Seating in the café is extremely limited with a bench and a couple of armchairs. If you come in a group, I recommend you to visit Arise Coffee Entangle, a sister shop located close to Kiyosumi Gardens. The shop has more space and also more options on the pastry. I especially love their homemade chocolate pudding cake. The rich creamy pudding on chocolate sponge cake base – a lovely combination that goes well with a cup of drip coffee. If you don’t have sweet tooth or come for lunch, then just try their baguette sandwich. They reheat the sandwich before serving, so the bun is crisp, airy, and fresh as if it just comes out of the oven.
Coffee and Chocolate Pudding Cake
3. The Cream of The Crop Coffee
About a 10 minute walk from Arise Coffee Roasters is The Cream of the Crop Coffee, a café-roastery inspired by Pierre Marcolini’s approach to roasting coffee beans for his chocolate crafting. Originally, the place was designed to be a roasting and storage facility. However, the beans’ aroma attracted locals’ attention, so the café space and the cozy souvenir corner was added. The café has been a favorite among local coffee lovers, so popular that they expanded to another café in Shibuya Hikarie Shopping Centre.
The beans available here are from 6 different origins including Ethiopia, which is the most popular. One of my favorite drinks here is the iced coffee. Instead of the regular ice, they add the coffee ice cubes to the drink, keeping the coffee strong, full and rich until the last sip. If you‘re like me, a slow coffee drinker, you will love it.
4. Allpress Espresso
The Cream of the Crop Coffee is not only the franchise here. It’s equally surprising that Allpress Espresso of New Zealand chooses this unassuming area as their Japanese base, the first official Allpress’s café/roastery in Tokyo area. There is a café space offering perfectly crafted espresso, latte, flat white, juice, etc. Apart from the drinks, this stylish café also offers bread, sandwiches and light pastries, if you’re in the mood for good breakfast.
On the day of my visit, I met with a variety of guests; a man with a dog, business person and moms stopping by for chatting after dropping off kids. Some customers from further afield dropped by for a caffeine boost after their visit to the nearby art museum. One of the guests, a retired businessman who had worked around the globe, told me that he had visited the cafe twice a week for a cup of espresso for almost two years.
Outside Allpress Cafe
5. Monz Café
Monz café is another place that you should include into your list. Actually, the café is located closer to Monzennakacho Station, but with only a fifteen minute walk from Kiyosumi Shirakawa Station.
I chanced upon this stylish café during my visit to Tomioka Hachiman Shrine two years ago. Monz is modern and really stands out in the old temple town. The shop specializes in espresso, latte and flat white. Aside from caffeine drinks, you have choices including Manuka honey and lemon juice Compared to other cafés in the neighborhood, Monz obviously has more options in the pastry department. They serve freshly made croissants, sandwiches, cookies, pound cakes, matcha brownies, etc. They also add a local touch: seasonal ingredients to their baking goods. At the time of my visit, it was matcha, fig, and yomogi (Japanese mugwort).
With nice music, inviting beautiful designs and comfortable seating, Monz is a perfect place for spending a few hours in. The staffs are trained to speak English and willing to talk with customers when they’re not busy.
Kiyosumi-Shirakawa may not look attractive at first glance but the place has a lot more to offer than good coffee. If you have time, be sure to check out Fukagawa shopping street and try traditional fares such as rice crackers and simmered clams. Also, no trip to Kiyosumi Shirakawa is complete without making a visit to The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and the scenic Kiyosumi Gardens.
Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station is served by the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and the Toei Oedo Line
Arise Coffee Roasters
1-13-8, Hirano, Koto-Ku, Tokyo
Tue-Sun: 10.00 am- 6.00 pm.
Arise Coffee Entangle
3-1-3, Kiyosumi, Koto-ku-Tokyo
Tue-Sun: 9.30 am. - 6.00 pm.
3-7-2, Hirano, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Mon-Fri: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sat, Sun: 9:00 am. - 6:00 pm.
1-14-5, Tomioka, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Mon-Fri: 8.00 am. -7.00 pm.
Sat, Sun: 9.00 am. - 6.00 pm.
The Cream of the Crop Coffee
4-5-4, Shirakawa, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Tue - Sun: 10.00 am.-6.00 pm.