For coffee lovers in Tokyo, the past five years have felt like a never-ending bonanza. Where once you might have trekked halfway across town to get a decent brew, now nearly every neighborhood seems to have its own micro-roaster or fancy coffee stand. Yet when Coffee Amp first opened in early 2010, at the sleepier end of the main shopping arcade in Koenji, the boom still felt a long way off.

"Back then, there wasn't much information available about coffee shops in San Francisco or Portland," recalls Hiroyuki Egi, who runs Amp with his wife, Yoko. The couple first met while working at a different espresso shop in Tokyo. As Yoko puts it, "We've been on the coffee road together."

While many of the recent arrivals to the capital's coffee scene have taken their cues from the U.S. West Coast or Melbourne, Australia — heartlands of the so-called "third wave coffee" movement — Amp has always jived to its own beat.