Drinking History at Café de l’Ambre

The prevalent idea in the coffee drinking world is that fresher is  better. I was proven wrong on my last visit to Tokyo when I stopped at the legendary Café de l’Ambre for a cup of their finest aged coffee.

Café de l’Ambre is an institution in Japan and it’s founder and owner, Ichiro Sekiguchi, at almost 100 years old, is still at the helm of the roasters. Call it whatever you want, but I call this dedication.

The coffee shop is located on a small street parallel to Ginza street just a couple of minutes on foot from Shinbashi station. Look for the orange sign.

The café interior is reminiscent of the 1960 and I quickly realize that the decor might not be the main preoccupation of this shop owner, it’s all about the coffee and nothing else.  Who needs modern fridge when an ancient ice box will do the job?   I was charmed by the old decor which is so different from the modernist minimalist look most coffee shop are going for these days.

The English menu list all the coffee with their provenance and year of harvest, the oldest coffee on the menu was a 1970 coffee from Cuba.   That’s right, you don’t see that everyday.

I ordered a 1973 coffee from Columbia.   I watched the man behind the counter prepare my vintage coffee. He grounded the beans and dripped them in a nel drip using a very nice enamel kettle.

My coffee was served in a tiny cup, the brew itself was nothing like I had ever drank in my life.

Strong, not bitter, a bit fruity with a note of acidity.  I am not a professional coffee taster, but the coffee at Cafe de l’Ambre is a totally different experience. I only drank one coffee, but I hope I can go and  try other coffees on their menu to taste the difference.

Watching them prepare my coffee was a great pleasure, the expertise and the care is the proof that coffee-making in Japan is truly an art form.

If you are in Tokyo, stop by this coffee shop and experience for yourself this unique coffee.

Cafe de l`Ambre


Ginza 8-10-15, Tokyo

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