Uncovering the Most Creative Cups of Coffee in Tokyo

One of the reasons I love living in Tokyo is it’s full of people who love to push the envelope to create new and unique things… especially when it comes to the whole ‘cute culture’. We all know in fashion, anything goes. You only have to head to Harajuku to see all the crazy trends happening. And in recent years, this concept has extended to coffee. From rainbow-coloured designs to 3D milk foam art, the creativity and imagination of baristas just keeps getting more and more impressive. And it’s so much fun to be on the receiving end of these cups of coffee. Here are some of my favourite lattes with a twist!

Rainbow lattes

Walking into the small corner cafe on a quiet street not too far from Tokyo Station, we are greeted with a hearty welcome from the shop owner. She seems to thoroughly enjoy her job, interacting with all the customers. Her bubbly personality is infectious and perfectly suits this shop. A large roasting machine takes up half of the entrance, and there are no more than 10 seats inside, almost all of which are occupied.

Roar is a lesser-known cafe on the Tokyo coffee scene. I only found out about it through doing a Google search on latte art in Tokyo. The owner explains that their popularity has only increased recently after they were on TV presenting one item in particular on the menu: fun and cute rainbow lattes!

There are two types of rainbow lattes at Roar to choose from, one served as usual with coffee which means the rainbow colours are blended with the light brown of coffee beans, or one with a white background from the milk froth only and you add the coffee from a little jug later. I went for the latter on top of a salt-caramel-flavoured single origin coffee. My multi-coloured swan arrived minutes later. Reds and yellows and blues swirled together like a sweeping sunset sky. It was beautiful… almost too beautiful to drink!

Rainbow latte artRainbow latte art

3D lattes

A 10-minute walk from Tokyo Skytree, down an unassuming residential alleyway is one of Tokyo’s hidden gems. Oshiage Nyanko is an adorable cafe run by a certain cat lover. Inside, the whole place is kitty-themed… everything from the countless pictures on the walls to the design on the chopsticks to the cat-shaped cookies. I’m more of a dog person but even I was captivated by this cafe.

Not only is it a must-visit for cat lovers but unexpectedly, also coffee lovers. The owner offers a selection of amazing 3D latte art. Have you ever seen a cup of coffee with a little cat floating on its back on top!? On the 3D art menu is a selection of 5 soy-based coffees. The cat art is already set for each drink, which means the baristas have made them so many times and are able to bring them out pretty quickly.

The cafe turns into an izakaya by night, so it’s a little dim but very cosy. As a cafe, it’s open only in the afternoon from Thursday to Sunday. If you’re ever in the Skytree area on these days, definitely check this place out!

3D latte art3D latte art

Charcoal lattes

Some people love the colour black. They say there’s something powerful and sophisticated about it. But what about consuming something that is black… for example, a black latte?! Would you be up for it?

Lattest in Omotesando is one of a bunch of cafes that offer charcoal lattes. Made of activated charcoal powder blended with an espresso shot and steamed milk, it’s become one of this year’s trendiest drinks. You definitely notice something different with the first sip, but I found it delicious and easy to drink.

There’s a bit of debate over the supposed detox benefits vs. questions over the effects the charcoal could have on your body. Either way it’s probably better to be safe and not drink it too often!

Charcoal latteCharcoal latte

Matcha lattes

Matcha (green tea) lattes are everywhere now – not just in Tokyo but all over the world. In Japan, they are seen almost as frequently as regular lattes. But you don’t have to settle for a plain green-coloured drink. You don’t even have to settle for some green and white latte art swirls.

Dixans in Jimbocho takes matcha lattes to the next level with their super cute hand-drawn pictures that feature a cute pixie-like character. Depending on the season and big events happening, the baristas change up their designs frequently. In the rainy season, the pixie girl was holding an umbrella; in summer, she was admiring fireworks; and during the Fifa world cup, she was playing soccer! The cafe also has a range of the most delicious cakes. I recommend the gateaux pistache-fraise… I’m a sucker for marzipan/almond sweets, plus the green matches the matcha perfectly.

Matcha latteMatcha latte

Picture lattes

A few big names in Instagram have recently hit up Reissue, a Harajuku cafe, causing it to become one of the most popular places to go for a unique cup of coffee. Located down a side street not far from the Takeshita-dori ‘cute fashion’ district, this 2nd-floor cafe is relatively small with about 7 tables and a couple of sofas. It has a chill atmosphere and seems to have an equal amount of foreign and Japanese customers.

Known more for its incredible 3D latte art, Reissue also does amazing picture latte art. I took my blog logo in, not sure what to expect but hoping for the best, and honestly I was completely blown away. The cherry blossoms, the camera in my hand, my facial expression…! It took the artist less than 10 minutes to create this hand-drawn masterpiece. I never thought I’d see my logo on the top of a coffee. It has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Picture latte artPicture latte art

Which of these 5 designs appeal to you the most? Have you ever had an extra creative cup of coffee?

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17 thoughts on “Uncovering the Most Creative Cups of Coffee in Tokyo

  1. Most unusual … I always thought coffee was to be drunk. Seems like it’s another form of art, the big difference is you can drink it. Still appreciating art is a form of entertainment. It would be interesting to make a video of the barista creating your logo design. So go back and reorder & record.
    cheers
    davo
    12-Sept

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    1. Art is ever evolving, and doesn’t always have to be something permanent. But they’re definitely taking coffee art to another level these days! I’m just amazed at how quickly they can make these detailed designs and pictures. I will try get a video next time!

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    1. The Tokyo coffee scene is absolutely powering ahead, full steam! It seems like it’s come a long way even in just the 5 years I’ve been living here. And yes, so hard to take that first sip… it in my head I justified it by the fact that I had taken so many photos so at least it’s not lost forever!

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  2. When it comes to everyday art, the Japanese are doing it on another level! I’ve seen videos of mundane things turned into beautiful artwork in Japan. This has kept me wandering why this is the case — is it really part of the culture, or is it something the Japanese learn at school, or is it something else?

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    1. That’s a great question, Bama! I can’t really say exactly where it comes from… there’s nothing that obviously stands out. I’ve taught in schools, so have been around teenagers a lot and honestly they are really not all that creative! In their art classes, I have seen some incredible drawings and sculptures, but I wouldn’t say that’s unique to Japanese kids. I do think the Japanese are naturally good at fine details and precision work though, which has a lot to do with the culture as well as the kind of artwork they produce. What do you think?

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    1. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure! I felt so guilty, like I was throwing out an artist’s work. The logo one was probably the most difficult to drink – so impressive, right?!

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  3. I had the good fortune of being offered a latte with a foam bear and teeny marshmallows while in Nagoya. It took me ages to drink it because I couldn’t bear (no pun intended) to break the art.
    The Japanese are wonderfully creative and delicately so.

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