Coffee Tei 皇琲亭, Tokyo

Ikebukuro is the sort of place where you either love it or hate it. There are night clubs, noisy Chinatown restaurants, and some say yakuza types prowling around. The kids are more boisterous here; the drunks more inebriated, if that’s possible. It’s also the home of our favourite ramen shop, so we love it. Who knew there was great coffee to be found here too? Enter Coffee Tei. Perhaps a nice brew is just the thing to help us digest our dinner (when ramen is…Continue Reading “Coffee Tei 皇琲亭, Tokyo”

Here’s a pop-up café that certainly believes in strong contrast – both in its black and white décor as well as its focus on straightforward, simply good coffee (in contrast to the bad stuff – and there’s plenty of those – out there).

To get things started, try their limited-time-only “Cough Syrup” blend, sweet with a little note of orange peel and a smooth aftertaste – one of the best cups of espresso we’ve had all year.

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If there is any wonder about Bangkok’s cosmopolitan status, look no further than the Japanese quarter of Phrom Phong. Nestled in a row of manga book rental stores and ramen restaurants is an unassuming café with a minimalist décor and a distinctly un-Japanese name.

Ceresia is owned by Venezuelan sisters Marian and Lucia Aguilar, and Thai roaster Garin “Bret” Asavaroengchai (also Lucia’s husband). Lucia shares, “We wanted to open the shop in a multicultural area. As a result, we have been visited by people from many nationalities.”

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The barista before me reminds me of Daria from the 1997 Gen-X MTV anime and also of Neil Gaiman’s sweet goth chick version of Death. She has a tattoo of a playing card spade on her left hand. It could be me but I swear the spade shifts just a little as she brews our coffee.

They say you can read tea leaves, the dregs at the bottom of your teacup when you’ve had your last sip. I can’t but wonder if you could do same with a tattoo of a playing card spade. I’m rambling, of course. It’s probably just the lighting.

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