Fuglen Coffee Roasters

The Fuglen logo, from the outside wall of Fuglen Coffee Roasters, Tokyo.Fuglen is one of several western/Japanese hybrids which I found in Tokyo. In this case the western element comes from Oslo, where Fuglen started and is still going strong. The Tokyo offshoot opened in 2012 in the residential streets on Shibuya’s northern edge, somewhere I have yet to visit, with the Tokyo roastery, subject of today’s Coffee Spot, opening in 2014. Ironically, Fuglen only started roasting in Oslo in March this year.

The Tokyo roastery doubles as a coffee shop, opening its doors to the public from Thursday to Sunday every week. It’s a lovely spot, tucked away up a driveway on a quiet street, somewhere you would never stumble upon by accident unless you were very lucky. Inside, there’s a single, open space, with the roaster at the back, and a simple coffee bar to your left, with minimal seating.

Of course, the real draw is the coffee, all single-origins, all roasted on-site. It’s all seasonal, changing every two to three months. Naturally, it’s all available to buy in retail bags. There’s one single-origin on espresso and a choice of four on pour-over, all through the Kalita Wave. And that’s it. No tea, no food, not even a cake.

October 2018: Unfortunately, I’ve just found out (about 15 minutes after publishing the Coffee Spot) that the roastery has, sadly, closed its doors for good as a coffee shop, due to increased production and the resulting space pressures. It subsequently moved to bigger premises, where it still supplies both the Shibuya branch and the new location in Asasuka, Tokyo.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • This unassuming drive-way is home to one of Tokyo's better-kept secrets.
  • The A-board, which you can easily miss from the other side of the road, gives it away.
  • Head up the drive, turn right and there, across a large courtyard...
  • ... all the way at the back, on the right...
  • ... you'll find the Fuglen Roastery, which also opens as a cafe from Thursday to Sunday.
  • Lookng across the courtyard from just inside the door. You can sit outside if you want.
  • Alternatively, head inside, where this counter faces the door, the roaster beyond.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door.
  • There's a retail selection, plus a bench, off in the space to the right of the door.
  • Meanwhile, you order your coffee at this counter off to the left.
  • The roastery is at the back on the left, beyond the counter.
  • Like the rest of the set-up at Fuglen, it's a fairly simple operation...
  • ... with the 12 kg Probat roaster at the heart of it.
  • You can buy Fuglen's output of single-origins from the retail shelves. There are also...
  • ... books (above) and coffee-making equipment (below).
  • Unsurprisingly, this is all from the Norweigian company, Wilfa.
  • I left a copy of my book, buying a bag of the Nano Challa in return.
  • The counter's a simple affair, the espresso machines at the back, an EK-43 at the front.
  • The EK-43 is used to grind the filter coffee and any retail bags, as required.
  • Meanwhile, the espresso is made on the La Marzocco Linea with its Mythos 1 grinder.
  • The till is just as simple affair: a tablet and menu on the counter.
  • The simplicity theme continues with the menu: drinks, left, choice of beans, right.
  • I decided to have an espresso.
  • The Linea is perfectly placed if you like to watch your...
  • ... espresso being made. Which, of course, I do.
  • I could sit and watch espresso extract all day.
  • It's looking good.
  • Nearly done.
  • And the final result, served with a glass of water.
  • My espresso, in a classic white cup.
  • I'll leave you with one last shot of the espresso. It tasted just as good as it looked!
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Fuglen Coffee Roasters is tucked away in the northern reaches of Shibuya, just south of the Yoyogi National Stadium and on the opposite side of Yoyogi Park from Fuglen’s coffee shop. However, it’s not somewhere you are going to end up by accident, the roastery being at the back of a large courtyard, itself up a short, steep driveway off a back street. I had to double check that I was in the right place when I visited and I knew where I was going!

The roastery is one of a short row of industrial units, with the courtyard well-screened by trees, making it doubly hard to spot from the street. Indeed, the only clue is the A-board which is set back on the driveway when the roastery is open.

It’s a fairly simple affair, with a pair of benches outside if you want to sit in the courtyard. Alternatively, head inside, where you’ll find a large, open, rectangular space, maybe 50% deeper than it is wide. You enter via double doors in the short side, with a small retail section off to your right and a counter to your left by window. Meanwhile, a broad, L-shaped counter separates you from the roaster/roastery, which is at the back on the right. This is where you’ll find the obligatory sacks of green beans surrounding the 12 kg Probat roaster. Sadly, on the days when Fuglen is open as a coffee shop, the roaster isn’t in action.

There’s not much in the way of seating inside, just a bench off to the right, by the retail shelves, while there’s a handful of stools at the L-shaped counter. This has the short side facing the doors, while the long side runs towards the back of the shop. Perhaps most importantly of all, during the sweltering July day I was there, the roastery has air-conditioning, which isn’t always the case in Tokyo’s speciality coffee shops.

You order and pay at the small counter at the front, by the windows. This is, like the rest of the roastery, a simple affair. The uncluttered counter top has a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder on the left, used for the filter coffee and any retail bags, as required, with a tablet for a till on the right, along with the simple menu. The espresso, meanwhile, is at the back of the counter, a Mythos One grinder on the left, two-group La Marzocco Linea in the centre and a La Marzocco Mini on the right. Of course, these have the business end facing the front of the counter, so you get a perfect view of your espresso extracting as you stand at the till, which is exactly what I did.

I was served by Yusho, who has been with Fuglen almost since the day it opened in Tokyo and who is currently the roaster, as well as a barista. He pulled me a shot of the Salaverria from El Salvador, an excellent, well-rounded espresso, particularly after first sip. It was very smooth, with a little acidity but no bitterness and very much a front-of-mouth taste. For me it was pretty much the perfect espresso.

December 2018: Fuglen Coffee Roasters was a runner-up for the 2018 Best Espresso Award.

1-2-5 JINNAN • SHIBUYA-KU • TOKYO • 150-0041 • JAPAN
Monday CLOSED Roaster Fuglen (espresso + filter)
Tuesday CLOSED Seating Counter, Benches (outside)
Wednesday CLOSED Food N/A
Thursday 11:00 – 17:00 Service Counter
Friday 11:00 – 17:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 11:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 11:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain International Visits 20th July 2018

If you 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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