My friend Anna took me to this wonderful little coffee shop on Aoyama dori, in a nondescript building just north of the Omotesando crossing, east side of the street. (I would tell you more precisely how to get there if I could read the address on the meishi.) The man making the coffee (above) is the proprietor, Dai-Bo. A fastidious gentleman, he seemed genuinely pleased to see my friend, who frequents the place and can speak Japanese well enough to maintain lively chitchat with both the kohi master himself and the other customers.
Upon entering I felt like I had been let in on one of the best kept secrets in Japan. There is such a love affair with coffee going on in this joint, such commitment to serving a high-quality cup -- even before we arrived, we caught the smell of beans roasting from the street.
The coffee was served in charmingly mismatched ceramic bowls that reminded me of my visit to Sicily, when my grandmother's cousin served us some really strong Italian brew with lots of hot milk in the same kind of bowl every morning for breakfast.
If you order the set, you get coffee and dessert. That day it was cheesecake. In typical Japanese fashion, it was only faintly sweet.
There's a long shelf of books that runs the perimeter of the place, just below the ceiling. When we asked about them, Dai-Bo pulled down a hardcover about jazz musicians written by one of his regular customers -- the one and only Haruki Murakami, who, before he achieved world fame as a writer, ran a jazz club in Tokyo. The author's autograph was scribbled on the inside cover (how cool!). Dai-Bo then took out his scrapbook to show us a yellowed copy of a newspaper article about his shop that ran in the New York Times travel section, complete with a photograph of himself, when he was much younger, with a head of thick dark hair.