Starbucks is probably the last place you would think of going to if you wanted a unique coffee experience. The mega-chain has practically taken over the world and yet, here in Shimokitazawa the company has managed to create something oddly unique. Inspired by Starbucks is a Starbucks owned coffee shop that is completely separate from all others.
Starbucks had its first crack at this experiment in Tagamawa, and Shimokitazawa is their second. The outside of the store is very different from most Starbucks chains with its matte black and dark mahogany wood entrance. The handle of the door is a solid, unshaped wooden block already hinting at the shop's strangely non-corporate atmosphere. This attempt would be negligible under most circumstances until you realize the sheer beauty of the shop. Photographs from local photographers hang on the walls and sketches of the store concept decorate the bathroom. The wooden counters and cement flooring give an industrial vibe and it can be best summed up with the modern Tokyo mantra: yesterday's aesthetics with the efficiency of today.
All the normal amenities can be found here, like electric plugs for your laptops and iPhones, free wifi, and as usual there is a giant table for everyone to study at. They also have a separate room sectioned off by a giant sliding glass door if you would prefer not to hear the grinding and brewing of coffee. This Starbucks is quite popular in the area so be prepared to wait a few minutes for an open table.
Customers are given a choice of the day's different beans. There are assorted foods that aren't found in normal Starbucks. They serve all the normal things you would expect like cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos. They do not serve regular ice coffee here however, only iced Americanos. The baked goods and sandwiches are particularly delicious, and there is also another aspect which separates these neighborhood Starbucks: alcohol. Beer and wine are served as well as an assortment of unique cocktails. Non-Alcoholic cocktails are served also. And you need not fear, latte art is their speciality.
To find the shop from Shimokitazawa Station go out of the South Exit and turn right. Head all the way down the street, past the arcades and past the Izakayas with tables outside them. Once you hit the street light at the end, cross the street and turn right. Inspired By Starbucks will be on your left.