Iron Coffee isn’t exactly a secret. That being said, it isn’t a place most people will stumble upon accidentally. Down a few side streets away from Gotokuji and Yamashita stations, this pocket sized cafe grabs you immediately with its charms. The outside is decorated in oxidizing metal plates and chipped paint. The name of a business that once occupied the space, Todoroki, is on full display above the bare skeleton of an awning. All of this comes together in a way that perfectly matches its surroundings; a combination of aged patina and well loved neighborhood haunts.
I’ve made no efforts to hide my love of Shita-machi—The towns of Tokyo that are less polished, more lived in, and comfortably worn—and it is delightful to see a specialty coffee shop thrive while attracting new customers in this charming local. The nearby Gotokuji Temple, with its army of maneki-neko—Cat staues with paws raised to welcome all—brings in visitors from abroad who often stop in to get an espresso or iced drink from Iron Coffee.
If you duck into this coffee bar, you’ll be greeted by dim and ornate lights and very little else. The staff will warmly greet you and craft you a beverage while you gaze at the neighborhood streets of Gotokuji and see the townspeople walk, bike, and hurry by. It’s a people-watching paradise.
The coffee itself is top-notch. Iron features Single-O Japan for their espresso offerings and a home-roasted coffee for their drip and iced options. This cafe is a real treasure: A unique design, a genuine community, and nearby cultural interests. If you live in Tokyo, or are just passing through, consider taking a break from the busier and flashier hot-spots and making your way down to Iron Coffee.