Most of Japanese drink coffee every day in addition to green tea, because coffee is believed to be good to relax.
■ Uniqueness of Japan’s coffee
1) Ice coffee
Iced coffee called as “Ice coffee” has been are popular in summer because Japanese summer is so hot. It is served with gum syrup and milk. It appeared in 1920s. Cold tea was already popular, so it was natural to drink cold coffee.
2) Canned coffee
There are more than a million of vending machines selling beverages including canned coffee around Japan. Canned coffees are sold in hot and cold conditions.
■ History of coffee in Japan
The first coffee shop opened in Tokyo in 1888. It was Meiji-era Tokyo, where industrialization started and affected life style. People liked to introduce Western culture including coffee drinking. Naturally, coffee shops called “kissaten” blossomed along the train lines.
The first breakthrough for coffee came in 1965, when Japan released the world’s first canned coffee. In 1973, the hot and cold beverage vending machine was introduced in Japan. Coupled with the 100 yen coin that began circulation in 1967, vending machines and subsequently canned coffee became a huge hit.
Japanese coffee houses and chains also began to emerge in great numbers. Doutor Coffee chain opened their first store in 1980 and established the coffee culture in Japan. In 1990s, Starbucks entered the marketplace with their friendly, casual “third place” model.
■ Amount of coffee consumption
Today, you can get coffee almost anywhere in Japan, from big chains like Doutor and Starbucks, to the millions of vending machines across the country and convenience stores.
Consequently, Japan imports over 440,000 tons of coffee annually. This means they import about 7% of the world’s annual coffee exports. Japan is the 3rd largest importer of coffee, following the US(1st) and Germany(2nd).
■ Competitive market
The Japanese Coffee market is a very competitive. Quite a diverse group of producers including liquor, soft drink, food, and cigarette companies all making canned coffee. A few of the popular Japanese canned coffee brands are Boss (produced by Suntory), Georgia (by Coca-Cola), Nescafe (by Nestlé), and Roots (by Japan Tobacco).
Their advertisements are fascinating. In 2006, Boss coffee hired Tommy Lee Jones to be their spokesman. Since then, he has appeared in many commercials as character “Alien Jones” who was sent to Earth to examine the human society.
Specialty coffee in Japan (boutiquejapan.com)