It’s fairly easy for me to look back fondly on all the minimal coffee stands and design conscious places I visited while in Tokyo, but let’s be realistic here. I spent a total of 10 minutes at Be A Good Neighbor Coffee Kiosk in Sendagaya, Shibuya. Despite this, such was the pleasure in such a thrifty, thoughtful coffee experience with a humble message attached to it that I fell for it and it is one I can’t wait to revisit.
The original of a trifecta of coffee stands by owner Mashiro Kajiwara, editor of one of my former favorite Japanese publications RELAX mag, it’s plain to see his training and foresight for the future of specialty coffee wasn’t misplaced. The others having been opened on the other side of Tokyo at Skytree and in buzzing Roppongi are testament to this vision. True to the stores name, there’s a warm casual welcome when you enter, which is always acknowledged as a foreigner in Tokyo. There’s no pressure to order and vacate despite the closet like size and standing at the thin timber ledge on the window to gather your thoughts for a few minutes felt normal. The stand is being as good as it can be to you.
There’s a choice of 3 single origin beans from the understated Kagoshima based, Viola Coffee brewed anyway you prefer. There’s no seating but if you linger you won’t be rushed out and the staff are happy to talk espresso. If coffee isn’t your thing there’s also a small selection of teas, cakes and scones for you.
‘A New Day Starts Here’ is the mantra at Be A Good Neighbor with it being on a wooden v-board out the front and above the espresso machine and I visited when it actually held some relevance to me. Being the last coffee kiosk I visited before I jetted off to Korea and said goodbye to the current incarnation of living in Japan Be a Good Neighbor left me with enough of an impression, even after only ten minutes, that I could see myself coming back and being welcomed with ‘Usual?’ as if I were a living next door myself.
© 2017 Carey Ciuro