Outings, rides, and bitch-fests all require good coffee: a big steaming cup of black coffee – hold all the extras – or a great Americano. For the past few years, I’d taken the existence of meticulously obsessed coffee shops within walking and riding distance, completely for granted.
But a move to Tokyo presented not just the question of where in the world I should ride, but also where to find those coffee shops where you’ll want to linger, return, and order one more for the road. My coffee experience in Tokyo being a big, fat zero, I turned to Google and stumbled upon Café de l’Ambre. A coffee shop that only offers coffee? It sounded right up my alley.
Nestled in Ginza, it’s a small unassuming coffee shop conveniently located near my Dad’s office building. But it wasn’t the location that drew me; rather, it was the fact that Café de l’Ambre offers pourover coffee from aged beans [some from as far back as the 1970s]. A concept I’d never seen or head of before, and with a father willing to shell out over $8 for a cup of coffee, I sought out my first cup of vintage coffee.
I unfortunately couldn’t get a seat at the bar, near the action, but was offered a seat at a table with built in ashtrays. I glanced at the menu I’d obsessed over via the Internet, wished for a second I had a cigarette [in a long cigarette holder...perhaps with a vintage dress], and ordered a medium pourover of straight/single-origin coffee. The coffee? A 1982 Kivu.
Presented in a cup the size of an espresso cup, a “medium” size got me about 50ml of liquid. Initially, there was a sense that I wasn’t getting what I/my Dad paid for; that this could be grossly overrated. But this cup packed a lot of flavor; moderately acidic with notes of berries, it’s a bright-tasting coffee that I wish I could afford on the regular. But intensely brewed, that small cup left me feeling like a wired squirrel and I almost bounced out of the shop [in heels, so this is saying a lot] without noticing the small roasting set-up out front.
My father grabbed me a card before we left, ready to take on Ginza and the oppressive summer heat. It’s no RSC, true, but Café de l’Ambre, I’ll be back.