Best coffee & cigarettes bar in Tokyo
I am not a coffee nor cigarettes person.
I don’t smoke. Cigarettes burn my eyes and suffocate my lungs.
I don’t drink caffeine. Coffee makes my heart race and my stomach turn.
The only time I have not had any side effects was in one of Santiago de Cuba’s local coffee shops on Cuba. Coffee was smooth and smelled like vanilla and chocolate.
You can imagine that I was anything but thrilled to accompany our friend Takumi to his favourite coffee bar in Tokyo, who stayed in our town house over the weekend. On the other hand, Takumi promised the best coffee experience.
He did keep his word.
Nampou Yuubinki (南方郵便機) coffee bar is truly special. It is tiny (even for Tokyoite standards) and carries a unique ambience.
Once you open the door to the coffee shop, you leave all the hustle of Tokyo behind to embrace a whole new atmosphere, with the surrounding pleasant and full smell of roasted coffee beans, presented in huge glass jars, behind which you can find the owner and master coffee maker. As a matter of fact, he is called ‘Master‘ by everyone.
The coffee bar projects a picture of the surreal. It is simply a narrow passage held in coffee brown colours with smoky interiors, leading to wonderful Alice in Wonderland porcelain cups lining a slim wooden table-shelf fixed to the wall, where beautiful Parisian art nouveau café chairs await coffee connoisseurs in less of a hurry.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself entangled in personal discussions about obsessions, joys and addictions of life and foremost the benefits of nicotine popsicles – nothing short of the Coffee and Cigarettes scenarios out of Jarmusch‘s short films.
Branded by coffee-fails in Europe I was sceptical of pitch black coffee in Tokyo, ordering a café au lait was my safest bet, where milk serves as a coffee neutraliser.
But – this drink was delicious.
And so was Tomek’s black coffee – it actually wasn’t pitch black but gorgeously rich brown, the shimmering shades I would seriously like my hair to shine without hair dye.
As a dedicated tea drinker, Tomek was positively surprised by the mild aroma and smooth taste of his cup of coffee. So was I, taking more sips than good manners would allow.
All in all, a mellow coffee experience which also made us finally recover from jetlag.
Takumi who used to rent a room across the road as a student, enjoyed endless cups of coffee and cigarettes here, as well as many memorable evenings when Tokyo’s best coffee maker would close the shop and dig out the booze.
This time the Master of coffee would dig out his best pose and coffee making skills for the journalist and crew from MONO magazine who were doing an interview that day. We were witnessing how this place was turning into a hip location, the kind of secretly famous place only known to insiders or Tokyo’s magazine readers.
This place is going to be very packed in the near future. I am glad I got a chair and coffee that day.
Location: 東京都新宿区西早稲田3-15-5 (3-15-5, Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo)