Germany still isn’t really a democracy

I tried to register to vote for the buyback of the Berlin energy grid and then I got this letter back informing me that I cannot vote.


I already knew that I cannot vote for national German elections and I don’t care much for them anyway. That I can’t vote at the local level where I live and where I am taxed is however somewhat annoying. Especially given the number of new entrants to the city, the fact that none of them receive any representation for their taxation is a outrageous.

There’s a Turkish man who cycles around Berlin with a placard about this very fact. He has a cassette tape to make his point and looks rather funny but the issue that he protests is real for many people. A lot of people who live in Germany for a long time have no say in what happens there. During the most recent elections the statistic was posted that a quarter of people living in Germany are not allowed to vote (because they are foreigners) and another quarter do not vote. This means the government has a shaky mandate based on half the inhabitants.

It could also explain why mainstream politics is so broken and boring. Maybe it’s time for some democracy in Germany?

Tokyo Coffee Notes

Here are my notes from a couple of weeks of drinking coffee in Tokyo on a fact finding mission for Cuppings. With Cuppings we try to give you a guide of the best coffee places around the world based on our personal tastings. Some notable locales are still not as well represented as they should be. London and New York have their own excellent guides for coffee with Oliver Strand’s Coffee App and the London Coffee Map. Tokyo is one place that I thought we should fill in.

I had picked my hotel to be on the right side of the city to be off to a running start so I could visit places right from the very first day. So landed at Narita, got my Mifi and while waiting to checkin I made my way to.

Little Nap Coffee Stand

I had a quick lunch and walked to the Little Nap Coffee Stand (checkin, tip) which I had seen a video of over at My First Coffee and was totally smitten with. As promised the store was beautiful and the coffee was excellent.


Little Nap

Fuglen Tokyo

Then I walked over to this place recommended to me by Companion Coffee. This Fuglen (checkin, tip) is a sister to a store by the same name in Oslo. This place turned out to be more of a cafe with an event program and cocktails in the evening and a diverse group of Japanese people and expats hanging around with laptops during the day.


The decorations are lush Nordic wood and the Kalita Wave pour over that I had was terrific.

Mixology and coffee makes a good combination here in Fuglen. Just had my first Kalita Wave.

Omotesando Koffee

I think I am going to cry. No kidding.

Then after some more walking around at the end of the day I finally hit the promised place: Omotesando Koffee (checkin, tip) which had been recommended to me by countless people and where Eiichi Kunimoto practices his craft. I had an iced cappuccino here because —what I hadn’t counted on— the weather was extremely pressing and it was rainy humid and very warm all day. It stayed that way for most of my stay.

Omotesando Koffee

The iced cappuccino at Omotesando is more of a milkshake like concoction with the espresso shot put into a blender along with some ice and milk, the result is poured out into your cup and sprinkled with —I think— cinnamon. Drinking this at that moment in the idyllic garden of Omotesando was a near religious experience and felt like the best coffee I have ever had. I returned to Omotesando a number of times during my visit for the coffee, the amicable staff and the quiet ambiance of its garden.

Omotesando Garden

Bear Pond Espresso

The next day I walked from my hotel to Shimokitazawa, a 20 minute saunter in the heat through the quiet residential area of Hatagaya. I don’t have any pictures of Bear Pond (checkin, tip) because of their policy but this was the other summit of my Tokyo coffee experience.

Katsuyuki Tanaka (and Eiichi Kunimoto of Omotesando) are very different and have a totally different style of coffee and shop but both elevate making coffee to a level which can only be called artistry.

The ambiance at Bear Pond is slightly forbidding but with the American radio playing it is rather easy to unwind on one of the stools and wait for your espresso to be served. That espresso when it comes out is one of the shortest shots you have ever drunk and probably also one of the most intense.

I ordered an espresso on an empty stomach which I normally never do because it gives me problems. But this espresso was so smooth that not only did my stomach not get upset, it was so delicious that I chased it with another one. With the reduced quantity it becomes something of an effort to get every last bit of taste out of the cup.

I brought back a bag of Bear Pond’s house blend ‘Flower Child’ and even when made in Berlin (by the heroes of Companion Coffee) after two weeks, it still had that characteristic deep chocolate like flavour.

Cafe Obscura

Cafe Obscura

The next stop was Cafe Obscura (checkin, tip), a somewhat out of the way place with lots of nice leather sofas and good siphons on offer. Obscura also have a laboratory which I skipped in favor of this place. The siphon coffee is expertly made and really good.

Siphon Bar

Nozy Coffee

Then it was a quick visit to Nozy Coffee (checkin, tip) which is a small but very nice looking coffee place. I had a solid cappuccino and saw that they have lots of beans on offer. Unfortunately I had no time to come back and bring some of these with me, but this place is one to look out for.

Nozy Coffee has a terrific selection of beans

Be A Good Neighbor (Sendagaya)

Be A Good Neighbor

The following day started out at the tiny Be A Good Neighbor (checkin, tip) store in Sendagaya. The cappuccino and the cake were both excellent and the barista was very helpful in offering tips about where to get more coffee. Especially useful was his pointer to Paddlers which I started the next day with.

Be A Good Neighbor

Streamer Coffee Company Shibuya


I then walked on to Shibuya to try the coffee at Streamer (checkin, tip). The type of coffee which they serve here and which I had is a latte. I normally don’t drink them but in the light of trying out the coffee as it is being served locally I had one. Shockingly this was the first place in Tokyo I encountered where the coffee was not fantastic.


What Streamer does do really well is to be a nice place to hangout. There were lots of people in the store with and without laptops having a great time and relaxing which is exactly what I did as well.

Streamer lounge

On the Corner No. 8 Bear Pond

On the Corner

The last stop this day was the Shibuya On the Corner Bear Pond No. 8 (tip) take-out bar which is a beautiful store front with attached coffee bar where you can sit on a handful of stools and recharge your phone or as it seems to be the intention: take out your coffee. You get an expertly drawn coffee with milk in it and a no photo policy is in effect here as well, so I can show you the cup I drank it from:

Bear Pond No. 8

I did not visit the restaurant and instead had an awesome burger around the corner at Whoopie Gold Burger.

Paddler’s Coffee

Iced Stumptown at paddlers coffee

The next day I trekked to the area around Sangubashi station in the morning and had a terrific start of the day at Paddlers Coffee (checkin, tip) a brilliant setup lunch place with Stumptown coffee on offer. I had a spectacular iced coffee in the stifling heat.

Iced Stumptown

Cafe Kitsune

My first double espresso from a Slayer espresso machine at Cafe Kitsune.

I then made it out to Cafe Kitsune (checkin, tip) whose presence I had just been alerted to. This is a fashion store in Omotesando where they have a fabled Slayer Espresso machine.

Espresso selfie

Then it was off to Kyoto to see some sights and sample the coffee outside of Tokyo. This was something of a disappointment, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Specialty Coffee Unir

In Kyoto I found it rather hard to get a coffee that I would term drinkable. Most of the local brews are very dark roasted and ridiculously over extracted to a point that I can hardly drink them even with milk and sugar (or gum syrup).


One exception to his in Kyoto was Unir (checkin, tip) where they make a very nice cappuccino and which I visited a couple of times because of this.

アカツキコーヒー (Akatsuki Coffee)

Real deal

Based on some research I found Akatsuki (checkin, tip) which is a nice place in a different part of town. This place gets the filter brew almost right and the shop itself looks beautiful.

Omotesando Koffee

Another Omotesando! The branding of this one is perfect. Soon he'll be taking over the world.

What I didn’t know until my last day in Kyoto and after my camera broke down is that they have a branch of Omotesando (checkin, tip)in the city on the main shopping street in a fashion store of United Arrows. The same impeccable Omotesando branding and the same fantastic coffee. I’m half glad that I didn’t know of it before because given the Kyoto coffee scene I would have been at this place all the time.

Hood Cafe

Well designed and just saw somebody in a Phil&Sebastian t-shirt. This bodes well.

Then it was off to Osaka to do the same. My experience here was a bit better than in Kyoto but not much. Hood (checkin, tip) is a very nice coffee shop which manages to hit all of the cultural paraphernalia associated with third wave coffee and also serves a bunch of different beans and methods but still it does not seem to hit the level of Tokyo. Still they serve very good coffee even without comparing it to the stuff on offer in the rest of the city.

Right side of the store to stitch together.

Espresso Bar Millpour

Seeing what the coffee here is like

Next up was Millpour (checkin, tip) which is a tiny place in the city where they make a near perfect cappuccino.

After that detour it was time to get back to Tokyo and to finish this visit.

The Monocle Cafe

Good coffee. Don't know about the better living.

I dropped by the Monocle Cafe (checkin, tip) in the basement of a clothing store and was disappointed by the coffee though the food was rather ok. The coffee is not terrible, but it does not have the quality that you would expect from Monocle which is more or less the same for the rest of the store.

Be A Good Neighbor Skytree

Deep in the Skytree

Then I made my way over to the Be A Good Neighbor (checkin, tip) store in the Skytree. The Skytree itself is a pandemonium of commerce where people are screaming at you all the time to buy something. Finding your way through the mall to the exact location of Be A Good Neighbor is no mean feat, but finally having arrived there the coffee is as excellent as in their other store. I would only recommend going here if you’re already in the area or god forbid entering the Skytree but then it is a welcome place to rest.

Be A Good Neighbor

Sarutahiko Coffee

Charming little cafe in Ebisu

I also did a round of Ebisu and found two very nice coffee places in that part of town. Sarutahiko (checkin) is a small shop but it seems to have everything necessary and made a very nice coffee. Definitely worth a visit.

Hitinui Espresso Bar

Tiny espressobar and Tahitian dance school

A bit further on is Hitinui (checkin, tip) which is a tiny place and also doubles as a Tahitian dance school. I couldn’t check out the dance, but the cappuccino was excellent and the barista very friendly.


Identity Coffee Bar+Gallery

Identity Coffee Bar+ Gallery (checkin, tip) also in Omotesando is a rather nice store and has an excellent selection of both Intelligentsia and Handsome beans which they prefer perfectly.

That was the roundup from my Tokyo coffee experience. I visited a couple of the places several times and brought back some bags of coffee but I am extremely impressed with the coffee culture and I’ll definitely be back.

Week 336

Beautiful new coffee place

This was the week of getting a lot of things done and a minor John Boyd obsession. I read the biography by Coram and queued the PhD thesis by Osinga to read as soon as I finish Latour’s Aramis. Frans Osinga is a rather impressive fellow if you look at his Ministry of Defense webpage. We were joking around that having a design event with him would be brilliant mind-expand. Unfortunately events take too much time to organize so that won’t be happening anytime soon.

One thing to keep in mind from Boyd’s tragic life is to make the decision to either Be Somebody or to Do Something. Most people I hang out with all want to Do Something, but it does pay to keep in mind how it will work out for you personally.

Pit stop

I made a brief stop in Aachen before heading to the Netherlands to catch up with local coffee, for some quality time at Hubbub HQ and meeting Amsterdam friends.

Das Wir Entscheidet

To prepare for that visit to the Netherlands I had to kill another two hours at the local Bürgeramt because the Meldebescheinigung I had was not recent enough for some stupid Dutch institution.

Bürgeramt Kreuzberg