Category Archives: Tokyo Coffee

A cup of coffee Ghibli style in Koenji

As a coffee lover, I spend a significant time of my life either drinking it or searching for the best places to enjoy a good cup of it.  Recently, I was very fortunate to stumble upon Koral Café, this tiny and curious café in the neighbourhood of Koenji in Tokyo.

Located in what seems like a rundown wooden shack just a couple of metres off from the Shotengai in Koenji, stepping into Koral Café feels like stepping into the fantasy world of Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki.

As you walk through the narrow entrance, Kumiko-san, the owner and charismatic barista will greet you with the biggest smile I have ever received at a café. Kumiko-san is not very fluent in English nor other languages but she’ll make a serious effort to talk a few words or will quickly hand over the multilingual menu.  And she won’t be alone…at Koral Café you will run into very random and very interesting locals and regulars, all of whom seem to be taken straight out of one of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animate movies.  The woman hiding her smile while pretending to read the newspaper but discretely gazing over the “Amerikanjin”;  Kumiko-san’s best buddy who can speak several languages and serves as the unofficial translator for foreigners; or the student who just sits and smiles at every comment from older regulars…

And let’s not forget about the coffee of course…If your are picky about the cremma in your americano or are looking for the latest in latte art, this might not be the place for you.   At Koral’s you will only find good old drip coffee, maybe from Colombia, or Costa Rica, or Brazil, the regions vary…but what doesn’t vary is the highly old-fashion but very technical procedure (see photos) Kumiko-san employs to brew your very own cup of coffee.  You might think she just forgot your order while chatting up with her friends…just be patient, the process takes a bit longer than usual, but is worth the wait.  In the meantime enjoy all the vintage items and the entertaining environment typical of the old Japanese establishments.

And if you feel like satisfying your sweet tooth, ask for the home-made pancake with vanilla ice cream.  This option (ice cream) is not on the menu but with a big smile  Kumiko-san will give in and prep you one.

Come to Koenji and visit Koral Café…a coffee experience you will never forget!


Delicious coffee and tasty treats at Honohono Cafe…Koenji style.

So, it has been three weeks living in the amazing metropolis of Tokyo, and of all the beautiful areas this city offers, I feel very fortunate to be living in Koenji, a charming and welcoming neighbourhood in the Suginami Ward, full of independent cafes, restaurants, and vintage stores tucked away in its endless maze of narrow streets.

Although I need to do a proper introduction to this little secret called Koenji, I could not help it getting ahead of myself and had to share with you what has now become my regular coffee spot in the neighbourhood.  Being a coffee lover,  I love roaming the streets looking for places where I can enjoy a good cup of coffee, a comfortable atmosphere, and great service.  Well…at Honohono Cafe I found that and much more.

Honohono is nestled in Koenji’s main pedestrian strip, about a 15-minute walk south of the JR station.  It looks very unassuming from the outside, but on the inside, the owners have done a great job to make you feel as if you are walking into your own living room…that is a living room full of beautiful vintage furniture, all of which I want to take home every time I visit.

The coffee is of course delicious and the main reason I come to Honohono.  It is served in a different hand-crafted cup each visit, making the smooth cremma look even tastier then it already is.   And if you are not a coffee lover per se…no need to worry.  Following on the guidelines of cafe culture in Tokyo, Honohono offers a food menu full of tasty treats…salads, curry dishes, miso soup (of course) and sweets that will make your mouth water.

The experience at Honohono Cafe wouldn’t be complete without the welcoming service that the owners provide.  Always friendly and with a big smile on their face, the two girls running this place are doing it right…and I am definitely sold on it.

Please do yourself a favour and visit Koenji and Honohono Café.  You will not be disappointed.

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