When my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Japan in September this year, we knew we would be in for a treat with Japan's flourishing coffee scene.
Sure, most people don't come to Japan for the coffee specifically, and neither did we. But the coffee in Japan is certainly a delicious cherry (blossom) on top of a country with already so much to offer.
And I don't think we could have chosen a better place than 4/4 Seasons to start our Japanese coffee adventure.
About 4/4 Seasons Coffee
4/4 Seasons is a Tokyo-based micro-roaster, founded by Jun and Emi Saito.
Jun, a former furniture maker, got his start in coffee under the training of Kiyokazu Suzuki, who at the time was the head trainer of Paul Bassett Espresso, and is now the owner of Glitch Coffee.
Emi and Jun met during Jun's tenure at Bassett. She was working in the same building, selling dried fruit at the time.
Both Jun and Emi bonded over their growing passion for coffee and eventually decided to open their own coffee shop together. The goal was to do this before they each turned 30.
At the time of our visit, I believe both Jun and Emi were still in their 20s, so mission accomplished!
Where is 4/4 Seasons Located?
4/4 Seasons is nestled on a street corner in the vibrant Shinjuku Ni-Chome neighborhood in Tokyo. The café is just a stone's throw away from both Shinjuku station and the Robot Restaurant (a popular tourist trap that we indulged in the night before).
At the time we strolled in (9:00am on a Wednesday), the neighborhood was just starting to wake up. The serenity was palpable as we sat in the nearly empty café, sipping on our delicious (Oishi!) Ethiopian and Kenyan single-origin drip coffees.
Mrs. Concierge's Ethiopian coffee was one of the better cups we had during our two-week stay in Japan. Very fruit-forward and sweet.
My Kenyan cup was also quite good, with a bit more acidity and body than the Ethiopian.
Both cups were prepared with a Hario V60 by Jun himself. Emi didn't arrive until the tailend of our visit, so unfortunately we didn't get to engage with her.
We didn't try any espresso-based drinks, though, they had all of the usual suspects available on the menu.
We ordered a crepe with an over-easy egg and salad to accompany our coffees. This was our first “breakfast” in Japan, and our only regret was sharing it instead of ordering our own, since the portion was small by our American standards.
The shop is small, which isn't uncommon in Japan. Although seating is limited, we had no problem finding a place to sit, since most of the other patrons were taking their coffee to go.
By the entrance, there was a small Diedrich roaster that the folks at 4/4 Seasons likely use to roast their coffee.
The rest of the coffee shop's space is taken up by the coffee bar, seating, and minimalistic, yet modern decor.
There was also some coffee and merch for sale in the seating area.
Whereas many coffee shops in the world today create a fast-paced, work-forward vibe filled with laptop screens and background music, 4/4 Seasons was a quiet space where conversation and reflection seem to take precedence.
Perhaps our favorite part of our experience at 4/4 Seasons was the service itself.
Though we spoke all but 3 words of Japanese, we had a great time making small talk with Jun despite the language barrier. He speaks very good English, but we appreciated that he humored us as we fumbled around with Google translate between sips of coffee.
Been to 4/4 Seasons? Tell us what you thought!
We hope to visit 4/4 Seasons again if we ever return to Tokyo, which I'm sure we will. It seems that Jun and Emi have a very bright future in coffee based on our lone experience at 4/4 Seasons.
If you've visited this excellent coffee shop, let us know what you thought by leaving a comment and/or review below!