Turret Coffee: Welcome to the best outrageous coffee shop in Japan
Though fish and coffee don’t normally complement each other, a strong cup of caffeine seems necessary after a 3am visit to Tsukiji Market and its accompanying tuna auction. And while most of the big-ticket coffee shops hover in and around Shinjuku, there exists a superb option to restart your day after you stuff your face full of fresh sashimi.
Turret Coffee, a small espresso-based coffee stand, sits pretty within walking distance of Tsukiji station and the market. It’s located just around the corner from a Starbucks, but real coffee lovers will follow their noses right past that lackluster chain. A blackboard stands outside, directing tired individuals into its lair: “Welcome to the best outrageous coffee shop in Japan.” Not sure about the grammar there, but don’t mind if I do!
Turret Coffee quietly opened in October 2013. The owner, Kiyoshi Kawasaki, has been a coffee lover since early childhood, when he would gulp up mugs of café au lait. He settled on the Tsukiji area to open Turret, believing that a delicious fish market deserved to be paired with delicious coffee. In tribute to the market, he named the coffee shop “Turret” after the vehicles the delivery boys drive around the market. With hope, he aspires to spread good-quality coffee in Tokyo’s nascent java scene and throughout the world.
It’s rather cozy inside Turret, with five counter seats, two very small tables with chairs, and a raised tatami-area where you can chat with other customers, or even a dog. (Turret is completely pet-friendly.) All beans are sourced from Hiroshi Sawada’s coffee line, Sawada being Japan’s first barista to win the prestigious Free Pour Latte Art Championship.
Turret’s menu consists of three different menu categories: in house drinks, espresso X milk, and other drinks. My personal favorite is the popular sea salt caramel latte (¥490); a mix of sweet and salty, it’s rich in flavor and always beautiful with its latte art. Every month, a special flavored latte and macchiato is offered. For the month of July/August, try the Rocky Jelly latte (¥550), made with bitter coffee jelly, or the Hawaiian salt coconut macchiato (¥490). If you’re feeling a little peckish, Turret sells a few delicious snacks, including dorayaki, bean paste sandwiched between two sweet pancakes.
Mr. Kawasaki himself strives to vehemently improve the flavor and quality of his coffee, and this ethic is noticed and appreciated by his foreign and Japanese customers. It’s not uncommon to see the baristas engaging in friendly banter with their clientele, something quite rare in the fast coffee world. With the fish market moving locations, and Starbucks looming nearby, one can only hope that this rare gem continues to shine.
1F SK Higashi-Ginza Building 2-12-6 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku. Open Mon-Sat, 7am-6pm; Sun, 10am-6pm. Nearest Station: Tsukiji. www.facebook.com/TurretCOFFEE