Sarutahiko Coffee is a small, but growing, coffee shop/roaster chain in Tokyo. This branch shares space with a bookshop and travel agent in HIS, a multi-level shop on a quiet street near my office, one of several excellent coffee options within a five minutes’ walk. It’s also another recommendation from the Commodities Connoisseur (although he visited the flagship Ebisu branch).
Sarutahiko roasts all its own coffee, a considerable selection of which is on sale at the Omotesandō branch. There is a variety of espresso-based drinks, either hot or over ice, while there’s a large range of single-origins (six) and blends (five) available as pour-over using the V60. Although there’s plenty of seating, the Omotesandō branch is rather unusual in that it only serves coffee in takeaway cups, so be sure to bring your own.
Sarutahiko has several neat features. For example, although it’s counter service, you are given a playing card when you order, with an identical playing card being put down on the counter with your coffee, so you know which one is yours. On the retail side, each coffee has a card with tasting and origin notes, with the card’s colour indicating the darkness of the roast. Genius!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Sarutahiko Coffee’s Omotesandō branch is on a quiet side street in the busy area around the Omotesandō train station. It is hosted inside a bookshop, with access via a broad flight of eight steps which narrow as you get to the bottom, effectively funnelling you into the central door. Although this means it’s technically a basement and significantly below street level, it doesn’t feel like it, the front of the building effectively being one huge window, letting in lots of light.
The central, tall, double door doors at the bottom of the stairs are left open in the warm weather, and are recessed between two large windows. On the right is a lovely, wood-built counter, pour-over on the left, Synesso espresso machine and grinders tucked into the window on the right. On the left is a small seating area, with a display for the bookshop against the wall and in the window. At the back, stairs leads up to a ground-floor level unit at the back (the travel agent), while off to the right, more stairs lead down to the bookshop. There’s far more seating down here, although it’s not immediately apparent that you can take your coffee into the bookshop.
There’s a huge communal table running the length of the bookshop, with smaller tables on either side. At the back, on the left, are a pair of large sofas, facing each other across a coffee table, while the walls are lined with bookshelves. Upstairs, the seating’s limited. There’s a pair of small, round two-person tables opposite the counter, while immediately to the left of the door is a smaller, taller round table with two stools which doubles as a takeaway station. Two chairs are tucked away at the back on the left-hand side, along with a bench which overlooks the bookshop (although you sit with your back to it).
The coffee shop is a lovely, bright spot, done out in wood and whitewashed walls, with plenty of natural light. In contrast, the bookshop has little natural light, but it’s a bright space, with whitewashed walls all round. The two spaces have very different vibes, the upstairs having a bustling, small coffee shop atmosphere, while downstairs is more relaxed, ideal for working or chatting with friends.
You order at the counter and collect your coffee there too. A nice feature is that if there’s a queue, the staff hand you a menu board so that you don’t have to wait until you get to the till to decide. Unlike several third-wave Japanese coffee shops I visited on this trip, where the menus are in English, this was primarily in Japanese with English subtitles.
On my first visit, a brief lunchtime foray, I had a Burundi single-origin pour-over, then popped back for a longer stay after work, when I had a cappuccino. I enjoyed my pour-over, although I felt it lacked body. However, the cappuccino was much more to my taste, the rich, creamy milk going extremely well with the coffee. Even though it was counter service, I was very impressed with the staff, who brought my coffee to my table on my second visit (it was much quieter then). When I left, they went as far as to offer (unprompted) to wash my cup out for me, which was lovely.
September 2019: Sarutahiko has become one of my go-to spots for coffee when in the office in Tokyo. These days, it takes cards, but has cut its opening hours, now only opening at 11 o’clock each morning rather than at 8 o’clock. The coffee is still excellent though.
|4-3-3 JINGUMAE • SHIBUYA-KU • TOKYO • 150-0001 • JAPAN|
|http://sarutahiko.co||+81 (0) 3-5411-3885|
|Monday||11:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Sarutahiko (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||11:00 – 19:00||Seating||Tables|
|Wednesday||11:00 – 19:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||11:00 – 19:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||11:00 – 19:00||Payments||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||11:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||11:00 – 19:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||18th, 20th April 2017, 24th October 2018
4th September, 5th November 2019
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