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From Japan With Love: Discovering Japanese Coffee

From Japan With Love: Discovering Japanese Coffee

Japan has a very rich culture and a large consumer base for coffee. You’ll find unique coffees like canned coffee, morning service, and iced coffees that are only available in Japan.

Ever wondered what coffee looks like around the world? I mean, it would be the same, right? Of course, it is. To a certain extent, coffee around the world is the same yet very different.

Since the coffee consumer base has grown all around the world, every place has a distinctive way of drinking coffee. So, what about Japanese coffee?

Trust me, you’re in for a surprise.

In this article, we’ll talk about everything about coffee in japan. The taste, the types, just everything!

So, keep on reading.

What Are The Coffees Produced In Japan?

a Japanese barista making coffee.

There is only one kind of coffee that is produced in Japan because they mostly get coffee from abroad. And that is grown in Tokyo, on Ogasawara Islands.

People living in Japan drink coffee on a regular basis. So much so that Japan is at the top of the list of the largest consumers of coffee. In 2019, Japan consumed about 7,551 bags of coffee.

Coffee Production

Japan doesn’t produce a whole lot of coffee. It gets all its coffee from other countries like Brazil. It’s also its largest supplier country of coffee. Japan is the fifth-largest importer of coffee. But Japan mostly imports green coffee beans and roasts them themselves.

With that being said, Japan’s capital, Tokyo, does produce some amount of coffee. This coffee is grown on the Ogasawara Islands, which are also known as Bonin Islands which are about 1000 km south of Tokyo.

After the end of feudal rule by the shogun, the Ogasawara Islands became a Japanese territory in 1878. In an attempt to grow coffee on the islands, settlers introduced a number of tropical plants, knowing that the islands had a completely different climate than the rest of Japan.

This coffee is only available at one place which is a café. The name of this coffee house is Caffe Appassionato which is opposite the Tokyo Station. They take about 10 minutes for each cup as they brew fresh coffee. Coffee in Japan is mostly brewed by the drip coffee method and so is the case with this local coffee shop.

Taste Of The Coffee

A typical coffee’s acid content arouses an astringent flavor on the tongue, but Ogasawara coffee does not. With a flavorful finish, a cooling, refreshing aroma, and quality equal to or better than that of any major coffee-producing country, this coffee stands out in quality and taste.

So, in conclusion, Japan only produces one kind of coffee which is available at Caffe Appassionato.

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What Styles Of Coffees Are In Japan?

There are many coffee styles that are only available in Japan. Which are canned coffee, iced coffee, morning service, the coffee fresh & gomme syrup, kissaten, and third-wave coffee.  

Japan has adopted coffee to be an integral part of its culture. Though they import their beans and roast them natively, there are many styles of coffee that you’ll find in Japan.

They’re as follows:

  • Canned Coffee
  • Iced Coffee
  • Morning Service
  • Kissaten
a pink coffee house in Japan.

Facts About Japanese Style Coffees

So, before we jump into them, keep in mind that in Japan coffee is not like the regular coffee you and I are used to. It has various other things and ways that people enjoy.

Below are the facts that you should know.

  • Japanese coffee is not about milky drinks. They mostly drink black coffee which is without sugar or milk. Of course, places like Starbucks and Dunkin do serve such variety in Japan, but traditionally, Japanese people believe in enjoying the true flavors of coffee.
  • If you wish to add dairy in your cup, you can certainly ask for milk. But if you’d say that, you won’t get fresh milk as you expect. You’ll get ‘coffee fresh’ which is very far from fresh milk. This coffee fresh is a small serving of artificial cream made for coffee only.
  • For iced coffees in Japan, sugar is not used to sweeten it. You’ll be served a sugar substitute which is a syrup called gomme syrup. It’s a viscous syrup that instantly dissolves in the iced coffee.
  • You can get fresh brewed coffee at convenience stores which is very affordable. It does not cost much more than 100 yen or 300 yen per cup, but its quality can’t be overlooked.
  • Third wave coffee is a specialty coffee that is available in Japan. The 3rd wave means that they view coffee more than just a coffee. It’s not a regular commodity but rather an artisanal food just like wine. They have these in specialty coffee shops which are on the expensive side.

Canned Coffee

As the name suggests, this is a coffee that is in a can just like soda. You can find these in convenience stores and supermarkets very easily. This canned coffee comes in many types and strengths, such as a strong black coffee and milder café-au-lait which is with milk and sugar.

Whether you’re commuting to work or at work, canned coffee is a great option for when you don’t have time to stop by a coffee shop.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffees are very common outside Japan. I mean what else has Starbucks got us all hooked on during hot summers, right? But those iced coffees are very different from the ones you get in Japan.

First of all, the brewing style is different. Whether you talk about Kyoto cold brew or Japanese iced coffee, both of these use ice for brewing.

Japanese iced coffee is very strong when compared to other iced coffees which are very sugary. It’s black coffee that is served with tons of ice. Of course, if you’d like, you can add coffee fresh or gomme syrup. You can read more about Japanese iced coffee here if you’re interested.

Watch this video to see how it is made.

awesome video

Morning Service

Japanese coffee shops or restaurants that serve morning service are the ones that serve breakfast with coffee for free or at a very discounted price. If you order coffee from these places usually till 11 am, they serve you toast, eggs, ham, and sandwiches for low prices or even free.

This is also called ‘Morning Service.’ Nagoya is the origin of this breakfast service, and there are several coffee shops and restaurants that compete against each other to prove that they have the best breakfast in Japan.


Kissatens are small tea houses that help people unwind while they sip their tea. But with coffee culture taking over Japan, Kissatens have also started making coffee. These are usually family-owned and the go-to for families.

These are usually retro-looking contemporary shops with a very different environment than Starbucks or any other coffee shop.

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What Is The Most Popular Coffee In Japan?

The most popular coffees in Japan are canned coffee, iced coffee, and café latte.

Whether you’re a student who drinks coffee or a tourist who came to Japan, these coffees are sure loved by most of Japan.

Canned Coffee

As mentioned above, due to the ease that it provides, a busy person can grab a delicious brewed coffee in less than a minute. You can easily get them from vending machines. They carry a variety of coffees which suit every person’s taste. It’s typically black and unsweetened but you can definitely find it with milk and sugar.

Iced Coffee

Since Japan is a humid country, iced coffees are popular almost all around the year. Iced coffee and milk or creamer with a touch of simple syrup is served which is referred to as a lunch set.

ice dropping in a iced coffee with a straw

Below is the nutritional content of Japanese iced coffee for an 8 oz cup

Caffeine90 mg
Protein0.5 grams
Carbohydrates12 grams
Fat1.9 grams
Sodium4 mg
Fiber0 grams

Café Latte

Japanese cafés and coffee houses serve up café lattes made with espresso and steamed milk to those with a little more time on their hands.

Recently, latte art has also gained popularity. Things like hearts, fern leaves and 3D art can be seen. For 3D art, they sculpt the milk foam into kittens or bunnies and even anime characters too.

My Two Cents

Coffee has gradually become a part of Japan’s culture. But some condiments which are only available in Japan like the alternative of milk; coffee fresh and Gomme syrup for sugar is used.

Japanese people love to enjoy flavors of coffee on their own. That’s the reason why they drink coffee without any sweetness or dairy. But you can get these alternatives instead. The most popular kind of coffee in Japan is café lattes and canned coffee which are obviously very easy to grab and drink on the go.

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