Following in Japan’s long tradition of kissaten (coffee houses), Shimokitazawa is home to more than a few excellent modern takes on this institution. An array of small, locally-owned shops serve up everything from lattes to Americanos to something Australians refer to as a “flat white,” all paired with a wonderfully sweet little something on the side. Metropolis scoured the streets of this hipster hub to find some of the best coffee and treats to refresh, revitalize, and rejuvenate even the most tired of hipsters. Head on out to kick back, sip, and savor!

Frankie Melbourne Espresso

shimokita-web-1Opened only a few months, Frankie already feels like a neighborhood institution. The cool black walls, natural wood tables, and shiny glass and chrome display case for scrumptious bits and bobs are distinctly contemporary but cozy. The coffee menu is all Melbourne, and the friendly, bilingual staff are happy to guide visitors through a maze of new vocabulary to caffeinated bliss. A small but excellent selection of Australian sweets and savory treats is available, although the latter isn’t an option until around 11am. Be advised: the lemon slice with a bottom half somewhere between shortbread and a British flapjack is irresistible while the Anzac cookies run a close second.

2-12-15 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku. Open 10am–9pm (Closed Mon). Nearest Station: Shimokitazawa.

Darwin Room

shimokita-web-2This cozy hideaway, full of an eclectic collection of books, art, and oddities, accompanied by good coffee and a small menu of sweets, is surely a place its namesake would adore. It’s one of the few places where a life-sized stuffed zebra, a Charles Darwin finger puppet, and a caterpillar pin are perfectly normal. Solid wood tables run alongside windows framed by verdant fronds and blossoms of the plants that nearly envelope the building. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy a book or two with their beverage and tasty slice of cake or scrumptious cookie. A night café offers a variety of events throughout the year, ranging from a young rakugo performer to established illustrators and authors.

5-31-8 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku. Open 12pm–8pm, Sun-Thu; 12pm–9pm Fri & Sat. Nearest Station: Shimokitazawa.

The Plaster’s Café

shimokita-web-3Opened a little over a year ago, The Plaster’s Café is a five-story hive of funky goodness, not the least of which is perfectly brewed coffee. Visitors start on the first floor, dubbed “the Food Cart,” where they have the option of treating themselves to organic coffee and ice cream, craft beer, or homemade curry. From there, beverage and snack of choice in hand, they can settle outside at a table or wander up to the rooftop gardens. In between are floors of shops, galleries, and artist studios that charm and entice.

Fair warning: the coffee is too delicious to let it go cold, but it will be easy to lose track of time.

2-19-5 Rainbow Soko, Setagaya-ku. Open daily, 11am-7pm (8pm in summer).  Shimokitazawa. Tel: 03-5787-6882.