Have you heard about the fascinating Japanese Coffee Culture?
A brief history of coffee in Japan:
Coffee arrived through Dutch traders in 1700.
As the turn of the century approached, coffee became more popular.
But the trend lost momentum after Japan banned all coffee imports following the Second World War.
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that coffee began freely flowing into the country again.
In the 1960s, easy-to-brew instant coffee was imported and swept into households around the country.
So coffee’s popularity grew steadily throughout the decade.
As soon as Eikei Tei (also known as Tsurukichi Nishimura) returned from
studying overseas, he opened the first Japanese coffee shop in Ueno.
Inspired by coffee shops in France where artists and writers would socialize,
he wanted to create something similar in his home country.
Only a few years later, the cafe was closed.
Toward the end of the Meiji Period, coffee started to gain popularity,
and one by one, coffee shops started to appear around Tokyo.
Most coffee shops are located in Tokyo’s sophisticated Ginza district,
which is mainly visited by artists and influential people.
Kissatens of the Japanese Coffee Culture
The name Kissaten means “tea drinking shop”.
It’s a tearoom and a coffee shop at the same time.
In the early 20th century, they evolved to stand out from
noisy cafes that also sold alcohol.
A Kissaten is a quiet café where you can sip your coffee in peace.
Some Kissaten are also places to reflect alone,
in front of a book, on a smartphone or in one’s own thoughts.
The pleasantly quiet atmosphere –
there are even Kissaten,
in which loud talking is prohibited and you’re only allowed to whisper
– and the musical accompaniment by either classical music or jazz,
only adds to this.
It is no wonder that they were called “the third place”.
Instead of drinking coffee at home or in your office,
you can go somewhere else (kissaten) to enjoy it in peace.
The concept of kissaten is slowly fading away these days.
Before we move onto the new age stuff,
we have to inform you a bit more about these cafes
because they deserve a paragraph or two.
We can’t speak about the Japanese Coffee Culture
without mentioning “Kodawari”.
It can’t be really translated to English but we could say that
Kodawari is a relentless pursuit of precision, quality,
attention to detail and craftsmanship in one’s work, craft, or endeavor.
Can you now imagine how much effort and
love Kissaten owner put in while brewing your coffee and servicing it?
How precise and crafty they are.
Now, the scenery is a bit different.
Younger generations appreciate trendy and
minimalist establishments to enjoy their coffee.
Starbucks made it to Japan, too, you know?
Kissatens are no longer the first choice for a coffee spot.
What’s the current coffee situation in Japan?
Japan ranks 4th in the world for coffee consumption.
Coffee shops are now at almost every corner. Vending machines, too.
These machines have everything you need, canned coffee, too.
The Japanese are kinda obsessed with it.
How couldn’t they be?
Leading such a busy life and working long hours doesn’t give you time to sit down and sip on espresso.
Hello, canned coffee life!
Different flavors make this coffee very popular in Japan.
Morning Service in Japan
Also in the morning before work, if you happen to be in Japan,
you can go to a coffee shop or a restaurant
that serves breakfast either for free or
for discounted prices when you order coffee.
They call this “Morning Service” or simply “Morning” in Japan.
Because of this information,
we wish we could be in Tokyo as soon as tomorrow.
Of course there are popular Japanese retail companies
and one of them is Doutor.
They specialize in coffee roasting and coffee shop franchising.
When we say popular we mean over 900 locations in Japan.
Last but not least, Japanese culture has another neat fact about it:
Sitting alone in a restaurant is totally acceptable.
Freedom is what we like about this culture.
Therefore, the next time you’re in Japan, or your first time,
try eating your meal without any pressure, go to the vending machine
for a canned cup of coffee and most importantly, enjoy.