While wondering through Shibuya, a little ways away from the station (about a 10 – 15 minute walk depending on which exit you’re coming from), is a popular cafe. On any given weekend, you’ll find a queue of people (mostly women) lined up to get into White Glass Coffee. What is the allure of this place? A clean and cool atmosphere in Shibuya? That’s practically a given here. A food menu that looks like it was prepared at a gourmet restaurant? Maybe, but that’s not uncommon in Shibuya either. Good pastries and coffee? Again, there are places with good coffee and pastries all over Tokyo, so what is it that makes White House Coffee so popular? Maybe it’s unique in that it has all of these qualities, and perhaps some hidden ones that can’t be described.
White Glass Coffee is away from the busiest area of Shinjuku, and so it feels more quiet at the cafe. It’s on the side of a gently sloping hill, with many potted plants outside (and some inside) that give it a more homey feel. The industrial interior that is common to Tokyo is tempered by the bright whites, warm woods, plants, and leather seating surfaces. Soft easy listening cafe music plays over the sound system, and conversations give the feeling of liveliness that popular cafes bring with them. There are more tables than many other cafes in Tokyo, and there are even some outdoor seats and tables on the narrow terrace. With Wifi and tables available, they ask that you limit your stay to 90 minute so others can enjoy the cafe as well. They give you a little card with the time that you should be packing up as a reminder.
Although on this particular trip, I only had a donut and a couple of coffees, I did see them bring out several food dishes from their menu to other customers, and was very impressed with the plating of the food. Simple dishes like avocado toast, and others like pasta with mushrooms were carefully and artistically arranged just as if it had come out of a more expensive restaurant’s kitchen.
The showcase of pastries looked good, but I chose a simple yeast donut because they have a giant sign on their kitchen that says DOUGHNUT. If that’s not a clear indicator that they recommend their donuts, then I will point out that they have a dedicated mini-donut conveyer belt machine for making donuts. These are the machines I used to see in carts at carnivals and my college campus back in the ‘States, and I’ve never had a bad donut from those places. Although the donut was not fresh, it was still palatable and tasted pretty good. I can only imagine if I was able to get a fresh one, how much better it might have been. This donut was a much heartier than the donuts I’m used to coming from these machines, but it wasn’t so heavy that I didn’t want to finish the tiny bite sized donut.
I elected to have an Ethiopian varietal hand drip coffee at first. It’s a bean and region I’m pretty familiar with in terms of coffee flavor, so I can see how different roasters and baristas handle this bean. I really like how White Glass Coffee roasted this bean. It was as close to perfect as I can imagine it. The bright fruitiness of the natural processing came out in luscious strawberry flavor, and the roast added a wonderful chocolate undertone. The body of the cup was just right also, with a clean cup and medium viscosity.
My next drink was a cappuccino, or at least it was supposed to be. The drink came out in a giant latte bowl and tasted more like a latte than a cappuccino. It was a delicious cafe latte, but I wanted the coffee flavor to shine a little more with the higher coffee to milk ratio in a cappuccino. Oh well – no place is perfect. If you’re going to goof up anywhere, this is the best place to do it, since the ratios are subjective.
I can certainly image why this place gets packed. I certainly won’t stand in line just for a cup of coffee, but the combination of good food, coffee, and atmosphere is something worth waiting around for. I’ll likely come back at some point and try their food. If you know about something on their menu to recommend, please leave a message in the comments! You can find out more about White Glass Coffee at their website. You can also follow White Glass Coffee on Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram too (@coffeeryokou)!