Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro

A chalk drawing from the wall upstairs in Onibus Coffee.Onibus Coffee is a small chain of five coffee shops, including this, the roastery, in the residential district of Nakameguro in Tokyo. That said, it won’t be the roastery for much longer, since there are moves afoot to relocate the Diedrich roaster from the cramped space in the rear of the store to a dedicated site. Until then, enjoy the spectacle of seeing the roaster in action as you sip your coffee.

There’s outdoor seating along the side of the small, two-storey building, or you can sit upstairs, where, instead of the roaster, you can watch the trains rattling by, Onibus backing onto the elevated train tracks of the nearby station. You can’t quite touch the passing trains, but it’s close. It’s a busy line, so you’re never far from the clickety-clack of the next train (every minute or two). Personally, I enjoy the sound of the trains going by, but others might find it off-putting.

Onibus serves a simple espresso menu using one of its blends, while there’s a choice of several single-origins on pour-over through the V60. There’s also a small selection of cake, along with retail bags of the coffee and a small range of home coffee equipment.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery (all photos from my first visit in 2017 unless otherwise stated).

Onibus Coffee is a delightful spot at the western end of the Naka-Meguro train station. From the gates at the western entrance, turn left, then, once you’re out of the station, turn right to follow the little path next to the elevated tracks. Take the first road on the left, where you’ll find an alley on the right, with Onibus at the far end.

I visited Onibus in April 2017 on my first visit to Tokyo. Sadly I didn’t write it up at the time, so when I returned in July 2018, I made a beeline for Onibus, stopping only to drop my bags at my hotel on the way from the airport.

Onibus occupies a wooden, two-storey Japanese-style building, blending effortlessly with third-wave coffee style/service. Initially it looks as if it might be takeaway only, with a single hatch at the front, espresso machine to the left, retail bags to right. You order and pay here, but, looking along the right-hand side of the building, there’s another hatch where the V60s are made. There are a couple of stools here, so you can watch your pour-over being made (with the espresso machine in the background).

There’s a long, low bench opposite the hatch and two smaller benches further along, under the stairs at the back which lead to the top floor, a single room that runs the length of Onibus. Both times I visited, it was perfect for sitting outside, the benches partially shaded by the greenery growing on a trellis-like structure over the benches. On my first visit, this was open to the elements, but when I returned on Saturday, a sloping glass roof had appeared.

Looking at Onibus it’s hard to believe that it’s also a roastery, but it is. The front of the ground floor is dedicated to making coffee, while the Diedrich roaster occupies the rear half, clearly visible both from the hatch at the front and through a large glass window at the back on the right. So, not only can you watch your coffee being made, you can watch it being roasted!

Upstairs, meanwhile, is just as delightful, with wooden floorboards, plastered wooden walls and an open, A-framed wooden roof. There are windows at the back and towards the front on the left (you enter on the right at the back) making it a bright spot, with a small, two-seat L-shaped bar by the windows in the back-left corner, opposite the door.

When I first visited, there were two six-person communal tables running lengthways down the centre of the room. On my return, things had changed slightly. The rear-most table had been replaced by three two-person tables, while the other had been rotated by 90⁰, making room for a second window-bar under the windows to the left.

Just be aware that it can be rather hot and sticky upstairs, particularly when the roaster is going, although if you sit by the window, you get the smell of roasting coffee, plus there is an air-conditioning unit at the back.

On my first visit, I ordered pour-over. The barista, after determining whether I wanted a sweet or a fruity coffee, had no hesitation in recommending the Ethiopian single-origin, which was excellent. Light, delicate and very drinkable, it disappeared far quicker than my average pour-over! On my return, I ordered a two-shot (hot) latte, this being the only choice if you want your espresso in milk. Made with the Steps blend, my latte was lovely, rich, and creamy, the coffee and milk complementing each other perfectly, providing a wonderful re-introduction to Tokyo’s speciality coffee scene.

September 2019: I popped back to Onibus to learn that the roastery moved out at the end of July and that the store is undergoing renovations this month, so I’ll try to come back at some point to see what has changed. In the meantime, I had a lovely V60 of a Rwandan single-origin.

You can see what I made of another of Onibus’ branches, the About Life Coffee Brewers stand in Shibuya, which I also visited on my first trip to Japan in 2017 and again on my 2018 trip. Since then, I’ve also been to Ratio &C, Onibus’ coffee bar inside a bike shop, and the new roastery and coffee shop in Yakumo, which I caught on my return to Japan in 2019.

2-14-1 KAMIMEGURO • MEGURO-KU • TOKYO • 153-0051 • JAPAN
www.onibuscoffee.com +81 (0) 3-6412-8683
Monday 09:00 – 18:00 Roaster Onibus (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00 Seating Benches, Counter (outside), Tables, Bar (Upstairs)
Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00 Food Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 09:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes (upstairs)
Chain Local Visits 16th April 2017, 14th July 2018
8th September 2019

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Tokyo’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Tokyo.

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10 thoughts on “Onibus Coffee, Nakameguro

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