Coffee Shop, Coffee Shop

Where art thou, coffee shop?
Ah yes, everywhere within reach.

On menu recently: Filbert Steps and Itta Coffee Okusawa.

Today’s lunch hit the spot: right after a morning run & errands and right before a shopping spree. And by “hit the spot” I really do mean it was tasty. A taste of Americana right in my Tokyo playground (Shibuya). Stepping into Filbert Steps (yes, there are steps to the entrance), I hadn’t expected the lunch set to come with a side of nostalgia. Your recommendation, handsome owner? Is that so? The sandwich set it is!

I planted myself at a window counter seat to watch the comings and goings of locals: into and out of the building, on the terrace, up and down the backstreet. Number 32! Summoned, I collected my lunch set from the counter. Yay. I’d like to say I ate slowly and gracefully, but let’s just say cheesesteak and chicken parmesan sandwiches were made to be messy. I refused to glance back to see if any employees were watching my sloppy display. The soup and salad were fine, but the sandwiches made the meal worthwhile. And the giant glass mug of iced coffee? An enjoyable accompaniment to my novel.

So, if you’re looking for a relaxing hang out space in Shibuya, find Filbert Steps. And I really do mean find– it’s in a pretty obscure area of back alleys but worth the exploration.

Next up and a little closer to home: Itta Coffee Okusawa.

Open not long ago, Itta Coffee is conveniently located on the main street of Okusawa, down from the station and just by Imola Pizzeria. You might even miss it while walking along, were it not for the strong wooden door, orchids visible from the windows, and a beckoning counter bar welcoming you from within. Like Filbert Steps (well, unlike in the sense that Itta is new and the former isn’t), I haven’t exactly been rushing to try it out. As you all may know well, the closer something is to you, the more time you feel you have to see, do, experience it. (Like living by New York and not mustering the energy to see a Broadway show until closing weekend.) At any rate, a long, hot afternoon of errands had me almost trudging home to collapse on the couch, but I somehow, ironically, found the energy to ingest caffeine instead. Good choice.

The owner was considerably friendly and even joined me upstairs to demonstrate how the drink elevator, which delivers purchases to the second floor, works. Alone in the small, comfy room, furnished with dark wooden tables and coffee bags, I savored strong iced coffee as I got lost in my book. The best, unexpected thing that happened there? Peering into my nearly empty glass and realizing that the ice cubes were made of coffee. I know it sounds silly but I was pleasantly surprised at the brilliance of such an easy feat. Coffee that doesn’t dilute itself as the ice melts. Brilliant. So why doesn’t every coffee shop do it? Life is full of mysteries we will never grasp. That’s half the fun.

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