The sun was already setting as I jumped off the train at Jiyugaoka Station, I was running late but having missed out on a visit last time I was in town, I powered through the neighbourhood’s perfectly manicured streets, determined to finally make it to Onibus Coffee before closing. It’s owned by Atsushi Sakao, the guy behind one of my Tokyo favourites – About Life Coffee Brewers. If ALCB is the pumping teenager living it up in Shibuya, then Onibus is its confident older brother, wiser perhaps, and slightly more chilled.
Despite the night-shoot, the space is undeniably soft and warm, instantly inviting you in to sit down and loosen the grip of the city outside. The guys at Onibus roast onsite almost everyday with their Diedrich, supplying a number of other locations around Japan with their specialty beans. Atsushi jumps up to make me a pourover. There’s a few different roasts on offer, so in my broken Japanese I ask him to pick the best one for me (a roaster always knows his beans better than you). He settles on a Colombian Caturra. Body-wise it’s a middleweight, at first punching out juicy orange hits through the front of my mouth. During the cooldown the citrus backs off and the cup transforms into something softer with smooth vanilla notes flowing freely.
Like any good roaster, the team at Onibus is constantly trying to improve the quality of their coffee, forever in search of that perfect cup. Barista and roaster Takaya Hashimoto is excited as he tells me about a whirlwind trip through Sydney and Melbourne he’s about to embark upon. Always trying to push the envelope of the Tokyo scene, Onibus is sending Takaya off to collaborate with some of the coffee folk down south. I can’t help but smile at the Seven Seeds tee he’s rocking – the world of specialty coffee is a small one indeed.
After the shoot and long after closing time, my friend and fellow coffeenerd Nagahisa Kubota comes beaming in through the doors. He’s organised a dinner at his apartment down the road, so we all roll outside into the Tokyo night (and evidently, yes, people do actually ride Tokyo Bikes in Tokyo). One of his friends Takuto Nakamura is a chef in a top Japanese restaurant and cooks up a storm for the 10 people crammed into Naga’s tiny apartment. Course after course reels out onto the table and despite the language barrier, conversation flows as freely as the beer. Sitting amongst the coffee guys are a musician, a film director, an ad guy and a fashion editor. Tokyo is simply huge and in a city of this size it would be easy to get caught up in the ratrace, yet it quickly becomes obvious that for the guys and girls of Onibus Coffee and everyone at the table, friendships and creative pursuits (coffee or otherwise) are what life is all about.
People often ask me why I love coffee so much. It’s the smell, it’s the taste and it’s so much more. If it weren’t for coffee I wouldn’t have been sitting in Naga’s apartment, having that experience surrounded by awesome people. If it weren’t for coffee then I wouldn’t have my own creative outlet. If it weren’t for coffee you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. Then again… if it weren’t for coffee I wouldn’t be about to miss the last train back to the hotel.
Google Maps Link
5 Chome-1-4 Okusawa
Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan