If You Love Coffee, This Is Tokyo’s Best Kept Secret

The nondescript storefront. Blink and you will miss it.

Here’s something for the adventurous coffee fan who’s willing to prowl the Tsukiji area in Tokyo for a satisfying caffeine fix.

Turret Sakura

Get off at Tsukiji train station. It’s a short two minutes’ walk to the hole-in-the-wall called Turret Coffee.

Yes, it’s an independent coffee shop.

The cosy establishment opened in late 2013, and is found on a nondescript street off the main road (about one block away from the road junction at Denny’s). Blink and you will miss it.

Turret Decor 2

Here’s the irony about the hunt for good coffee: Turret Coffee is about 20m away from Starbucks (just the world’s most famous coffee franchise).

Turret at Turret

No matter how sugary and fancy their caramel lattes are, don’t be distracted by Starbucks. Just don’t. Find Starbucks, however, and you’ll find Turret. Life is strange like that.

Turret stickers

What do I like about Turret Coffee? First of all, the place isn’t filled with teenagers wearing flip flops and studying while plugged into their iPhones.

Turret Filter system

The only annoying DSLR-toting tourist is well, ME, who is staking his image on the line to bring you this coffee post.

Refrain from yawning in this place because someone might smell it.

Turret is charmingly small. You will subconsciously hold your haversacks close and refrain from splaying your legs wide open, Singapore- style. It sits about 10 people comfortably.

The rather legit Nuova Simonelli Espresso machine tells me they’re not playing.

I’ll describe the customer profile here as “normcore chic”. Some are sitting alone, reading and sipping espressos. No one is making eye contact, or looking at what you’re wearing. It is blissful here.

We tried the flat whites and cappuccinos. Both exceeded expectations.

They are engaged in whispery soft conversation, but you don’t hear anything except the grinding of the coffee beans, and the gentle Japanese nu-jazz playing from a small radio nearby.

Espressos are served in traditional Ochoko sake cups.

Their bodies are huddled, as if they sense, subconsciously, the small premises, and are trying their best to be out of anyone’s way.

Their borderline-apologetic body language says, “Sorry we have to cramp into your shop, but you have really good coffee.”

Turret Customers 2

They’re sitting around an actual specimen of a Turret – a motorised cart used to transport produce and seafood at the Tsukiji market nearby.

Turret Customer shoes

The coffee here is hard to beat. Hearty, fragrant and robust, each cup meticulously prepared by the boss himself, Mr Kawasaki-san (formerly of The Streamer Coffee Company in Shibuya).

Turret Bench

Like his co-worker in the shop, he smiles easily, even when he shares the key to the tiny customer washroom in the corner of the shop.

Check this out if you’re in the Tsukiji area. Do it before they move.

Turret Coffee
From 7am
Japan, 〒104-0045 Tokyo, Chuo, Tsukiji, 2 Chome−12−6, SK 東銀座 ビル
all photos taken with the Sony A7Rii