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