Hey Joe – Nagoya’s Best Coffee Shops

ByBert Wishart
Jan 21, 2021

Hey Joe – Nagoya’s Best Coffee Shops

While stereotype would have it that the Japanese are all nothing but green tea fiends, if you look around, there can be no doubt that the nation is, in fact, run on coffee, with everyone from salarymen to schoolgirls (there go those stereotypes again) chugging down the stuff throughout the day.

In the past, coffee in Japan was considered a medicinal pick me up rather than something to be enjoyed, but in recent years, chains such as Starbucks, Pronto, and Doutour found on every high street. With convenience stores and even vending machines dispensing it on every corner, coffee culture has exploded in Japan, and there is no shortage of joe to go around.

However, for those of you who think that you can’t call canned coffee ‘coffee,’ or if you have a Kleinian aversion to large multi-national chains, then it’s been pretty difficult to get a decent cup. Fortunately, the tide is changing as the last few years have seen something of a coffee revolution in Japan. And even in Nagoya, where Komeda has been king for so long, there are some excellent coffee shops to choose from. Below are a few of our favorites.

Q.O.L Coffee

Nagoya-born Shima-san had one dream as a child, and that was opening a cafe of his very own. As he grew up, he spent his formative years working as a barista around his hometown and Gifu before decamping to one of the great homes of coffee culture: Melbourne, Australia.

Upon returning to his hometown, he opened QOL – which stands for Quality of Life – where he serves some of the world’s best coffee (his claim), roasted in house. As well as drinking on the property, you can pick up some beans for yourself to attempt to mimic Shima-san’s mastery at home.

  • Where: Nagoya, Naka Ward, Marunouchi, 3 Chome−5−1 Majima Building (map)
  • Website: qolcoffee.com

Editor’s note, this place is good except the owner refuses to make a macchiato, insisting I order a “flat white,” which is a lot more milk. It is annoying, but the shop is good.


The original Glitch was opened in Tokyo’s Jimbocho, an area famed for its antique shops, bookstores, and, above all, its coffee culture, which probably tells you all you know about the sort of coffee that you’ll get here. With beans from Ethiopia and Panama, amongst others, they have a range of fruity coffees, with espressos and pour-over brews their real specialties.

The shop itself is a little on the spartan side and isn’t all that homely, but the coffee makes up for that. They are also connected to a capsule hotel above it, though with all that caffeine, you probably won’t be all that sleepy!

  • Where: 2 Chome-42-2 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 450-0002 (map)
  • Website: glitchcoffee.com

ROWS Coffee

The concept behind ROWS is that it is easy to drop in as it is just down your street (the ‘row’ meaning a street, as opposed to going in there to have a blazing argument), and it is a pretty comfortable little shop. With its pale, pine interior, it is always light and airy, no matter the weather outside, and the staff is always welcoming.

The joe they have on offer includes two of their original blends that you won’t find elsewhere: the strong and rich, French-inspired ‘ROWS Blend’; and the fruity, refined ‘Nagono Blend.’ And if you fancy something a little stronger, they also have a beer or two…

Trunk Coffee Bar

There are three branches of Trunk so far (they seem to be under constant expansion) but in my opinion, the original in Takaoka is the best. Using single blend beans from some of the world’s rarest, top quality beans, Trunk roasts their beans in-house for guaranteed freshness.

The decor is ramshackle in a charming, homely way, but the best thing is that many of the staff speak English. Oh, and you can get Japanese craft beer too.

Editor’s note, this place is good, except their blend is quite bitter.  If that is your thing, you will definitely be into this place. Good shop, just not my thing.

The Cups

Boldly claiming to brew ‘the best coffee in town,’ three The Cups around the city, in Nagoya Station, Fushimi and Sakae, and another on the Yamazaki riverside. While the latter is amazing for cherry blossom season, the others are probably more accessible, and Fushimi is the original.

Besides hand drip, you can get an excellent espresso, American press, and cold brew. I’d recommend getting a double espresso and pairing it with one of their amazing gelatos or parfaits.

  • Where: Nagoya, Naka Ward, Nishiki, 2−14−1 X-ECOSQ. (map)
  • Websitecups.co.jp

Editor’s note, this place is overpriced, overly fancy, garbage.

Magni’s Coffee Truck

Magni’s Coffee Truck is probably my favorite coffee place in Nagoya, and not just because it’s right next to my apartment. Fujisawa-san spent four years in Germany, where his love for coffee percolated. Upon returning to Japan, he kits out his 1967 Wagenbus into a coffee and cocktail bar and named after an old German town renowned for its fusion of tradition and new trends.

Drip coffee and espressos are specialties, he makes a mean mojito, and he has a stock of German beer. But what I like most is that it is open-air in a busy Meieki thoroughfare, so that you can sit outside and meet a whole load of cool guys and girls who rock up. It’s an awesome atmosphere.

  • Where: 3 Chome-11-18 Meieki, Nakamura-Ku (map)
  • Websitemagnis.jp

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About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.