Omotesando Koffee, London

A lovely espresso in a classic white cup, made with the bespoke house-blend at Omotesando Koffee, London.In speciality coffee circles, Omotesando Koffee is something of a legend. Named after its home in Tokyo’s Omotesando district, this pop-up coffee shop was credited by some as helping to transform the Tokyo coffee scene. Sadly, it was a relatively short-lived affair and, while I visited its successor, Koffee Mameya, I missed the original (although you can read what my friend Bex made of it when she was there in 2014).

From those humble beginnings, Omotesando Koffee has gone on to spawn a series of coffee shops around the world, including branches in Hong Kong and Singapore. In the summer of 2018, a ripple, for want of a better word, went through the London speciality coffee scene. Omotesando Koffee was opening on Newman Street in Fitzrovia.! Excitement mounted for the rest of the year, until, in the middle of December, Omotesando finally opened its doors, perhaps the most anticipated event in London specialty coffee that year.

A minimalist coffee shop, offering a bespoke house-blend from Assembly (with components from Brazil, Colombia, Uganda and Ethiopian) on espresso and pour-over, plus single-origins on pour-over and batch-brew, it offers a slice of modern Japanese coffee culture. Naturally, I had to take a look…

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • On a wet Newman Street in Fitzrovia in August 2018, something caught my eye.
  • The famous Omotesando Koffee was coming to London!
  • And here it is, six months later, on a gloomy February evening!
  • The view approaching from the north along Newman Street. Let's go in.
  • On entering, you are greeted by a very minimalist counter dead ahead.
  • Other than the till (which, of course, is an iPad), all it holds are three menus...
  • ... hot coffee, iced coffee and extras.
  • The counter is in a separate area, with the coffee shop stretching off to the right.
  • Once you've ordered, you are a given a ticket, which you take through to the other side.
  • All the seating is here, with a long window-bar at the front.
  • Seating is provded by these fold-out stools, three per window...
  • ... with three windows, making nine seats in all. There is one more seating area...
  • ... this little two-person nook at the far end.
  • The remaining space is occupied by the counter at the back.
  • You hand over your ticket and the baristas will make your coffee.
  • Minimalist is very much the name of the game at Omotesando Koffee. This is on the wall...
  • ... facing you when you enter, while this is on top of the frame above the main counter.
  • Nice, high ceiling, by the way.
  • So, to business. The counter is a very open affair...
  • ... with the espresso machine at the back on the left...
  • ... and the pour-over at the front on the right, where you'll find...
  • ... a pair of single-serve Kalita Wave filters, each with its own kettle and scales.
  • There are also test tubes down here with pre-dosed shots of the coffee beans.
  • This is the house-blend...
  • ... while this is the single-origin (an Ethiopian) used on batch-brew.
  • The house-blend in the hopper, looking a lot less dark!
  • Naturally I had to try some, starting with an espresso.
  • The cup says 'espresso solo' by the way.
  • It looks lovely in the cup (and tasted just as good).
  • I followed that up with a rich, creamy cappuccino...
  • ... the milk holding the latte art all the way to the bottom of the cup...
  • ... where it turned into a kind of swirl, which is where I'll leave you.
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Unlike Koffee Mameya, which is something akin to a coffee consultation crossed with a retailer, Omotesando Koffee is similar to the original pop-up, a minimalist coffee shop (in terms of both design and offering), bringing a slice of modern Japanese coffee culture to the UK.

This minimalism starts with the façade, a simple, glass front with black frames, recessed door on the left, three tall, wide floor-to-ceiling windows on the right. In lieu of a name, there’s a sign above the door, a simple white square on a black background.

Stepping inside, there’s a counter directly ahead of you, the body of the coffee shop off to your right. In a move that’s reminiscent of a typical Italian espresso bar (and which I don’t recall seeing anywhere in Tokyo) you order here, taking your ticket through to the main counter, where the baristas make your drink.

You’ll find all the seating in with the main counter. A single, long window-bar runs across all three windows, with nine fold-out stools attached to metal pillars. At the far, right-hand end, a nook has another two fold-out stools, and that’s it for seating. The remaining space is occupied by an enclosed kitchen area in the back, right-hand corner, and the counter, which takes up the rest of the back of Omotesando Koffee.

This is very reminiscent of coffee bars I saw in Tokyo, a minimalist wooden affair with a wooden frame. There’s an open counter-top to the front, with the pour-over (a pair of single-serve Kalita Wave filters, each with its own kettle and scales) to the right. You’ll also find pre-weighed shots of beans here in glass tubes. The counter extends backwards on the left, holding the espresso machine, a three-group La Marzocco Strada, and its twin Mythos One grinders, while on the right is access to the kitchen.

Having said that the separate counter/till was very typically Italian, the ordering process is more like that at Koffee Mameya, with the barista explaining, at length, the options available and the philosophy behind Omotesando Koffee. At the moment, Omotesando Koffee is offering a single bespoke blend on espresso, with a fairly concise menu, plus several filter options.

First of all, you can have the house-blend or a light-roast single-origin (also available on batch-brew) as a pour-over. The single-origins change on a weekly basis and are currently from Assembly, which also roasts the house-blend, although there are plans to also offer single-origins from Denmark’s La Cabra, plus the occasional Japanese-roasted coffee.

All this was explained to me by head barista, Damiano, who I’d previously met when he worked at Lundenwic. At most, he wants one or two single-origins on pour-over, with another on batch-brew, all offering a contrast to the house-blend. Talking of which, this is a darker roast (which was stressed to me when I ordered), designed to replicate Omotesando Koffee’s Japanese house-blend and is a good deal darker than you’ll find in most UK speciality coffee shops. Naturally I had to try it, first having it as an espresso and then, at Damiano’s insistence, in a cappuccino.

I liked my espresso, very much a throw-back to the sort of coffee I was drinking five or so years ago, but very nicely done. Dark, not too bitter, it had good balance to it. I also enjoyed my cappuccino, the coffee standing up to the richness of the milk.

If you are looking for a slice of modern Japanese coffee culture, then I heartily recommend Omotesando Koffee, which is as close as you’re going to get without actually going to Japan itself.

8 NEWMAN STREET • LONDON • W1T 1PB
http://ooo-koffee.com
Monday 07:30 – 18:00 Roaster Assembly (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 18:00 Seating Window Bar
Wednesday 07:30 – 18:00 Food N/A
Thursday 07:30 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:30 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain International Visits 14th February 2019

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of London’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to London.

You can also see what my friend Bex made of Omotesando Koffee when she visited in January 2019.


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