When did coffee become popular in Japan?

Regarding Japanese history, coffee is one of the newest components incorporated into their culture.

Japan cut itself off from the outside world during the Iron Curtain era. From 1638 to 1853, only Nagasaki welcomed foreign goods and traders.

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In 1888, the Japanese nation began drinking coffee. They opened the first coffee shop in the city. Before that, only Dutch merchants and foreigners drank coffee in Japan.

By the end of the 19th century, coffee shops were in different parts of the country. They imported a max of 1,400,000 bags of coffee.

When did coffee become popular in Japan? 1

The Popularity of Coffee in Japan

Coffee became extremely popular after World War II, particularly in the 1960s, when drinking coffee became a cultural norm.

The Japanese, who took a liking to tea traditionally, astonishingly became a global consumer of coffee in 1965. You will see coffee houses and coffee anywhere across Japan these days.

Now, two different types of coffee are available in the Japanese market. International chains make one type of coffee, while the Japanese traditionally make the other.

Coffee and Japanese Hospitality

After a long day at work, if you visit a Japanese friend, they will warmly welcome you with a cup of coffee and their traditional hospitality.

Recently, the market for brewing coffee has been growing extensively in a country that was not known to be a big coffee lover as a nation.

Japanese believe there is no highest form of practice; no matter how much you exercise discipline, you never become the best at it. You can only improve the process, but there is no best way. When traditionally brewing coffee, the Japanese follow the same process.

3rd Biggest Importer of Coffee

Most Japanese people like coffee brewed traditionally. Japan is now the 39th largest consumer of coffee, as every individual consumes around 3.2 kg of coffee.

When it comes to importation, it is the 3rd largest importer of coffee. It is only behind the USA and Germany and imports 4,40,000 tonnes of coffee yearly. It is important because it makes Japan the importer of 7% of coffee exports.

The coffee market in the country is competitive, and several popular coffee brands are in the market today.

Boss, Georgia, Nescafe, and Roots are the most popular choices among coffee lovers in Japan. Even the cigarette, soft drinks, and liquor companies are making coffee now. 

You may also read the 5 best Japanese lifestyle books while enjoying coffee.

The Real Question?

All of a sudden, a tea-importing country developed a love for coffee. You would see coffee chains like UCC Ueshima Coffee Co. everywhere, and no matter what the climate is, coffee is being sold in every corner of the country.

Even in rural areas, there are Starbucks chains, and locals prefer Japanese coffee cafes.

Older people prefer the Bubble era cafes that started appearing in the 1980s.

During this time, money began entering the country’s economy. Despite the gradual impact of smoking laws, you can still find elderly men in coffee cafes, smoking and savoring a traditional cup of coffee.

The traditional coffee is black brew and the older lot seems to enjoy it, just like they used to do in the 1980s.

When did coffee become popular in Japan? 2

A New Era

You would also witness new coffee chains with sleek designs, giving most cities an international vibe. You can even find canned coffees they sell in various vendo machines scattered all over Japan.

Young Japanese people love these cafes. You may have seen beautiful coffee pictures from Tokyo. The youngsters spend their free time there every day.

Tokyo is not the only city where this culture is becoming popular. You’ll find old and new coffee shops in cities like Hiroshima and Osaka. These shops are popular with people from all walks of life.

Even the tiniest of the islands have dozens of coffee shops and it is quite difficult to explain this certain popularity of coffee in Japan.

Simply put, understanding Japanese culture is challenging for foreigners. However, they have a knack for embracing and incorporating foreign trends and cultures as their own.

Local coffee brands are making a name for themselves worldwide with their unique style and taste. They owe it all to traditional Japanese coffee brewing methods.

Let’s explore the contemporary coffee trends and coffee culture in Japan. They have captured the attention of coffee lovers and young people throughout the country.

Matcha Infusions

Matcha-flavored coffee is very popular because it combines the earthy taste of matcha green tea with the strong flavor of coffee.. This fusion caters to Japan’s love for matcha in a contemporary way.

Hojicha Twist

Hojicha, a roasted green tea, has found its way into coffee cups. Hojicha has a smoky and toasty flavor. It complements the bitterness of coffee. This creates a unique and delightful combination.

Sakura-Infused Delights

Inspired by the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms, sakura-infused coffee is a seasonal hit. The floral notes add a touch of elegance to the coffee experience.

Yuzu Citrus Zest

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. It adds a bright and aromatic zest to coffee. This gives a refreshing and citrusy twist to the usual brew.

Two people enjoying coffee and shaking hands at a coffee shop.

Coffee Culture Among the Youth

Third Wave Coffee Shops

Younger people prefer third-wave coffee shops. These shops focus on quality, craftsmanship, and understanding how to make coffee.

Social Media Influence

Social media plays a significant role in shaping coffee trends. Instagram-worthy coffee experiences influence the coffee culture. It is also influenced by pleasing latte art and trendy coffee shops.

Functional Coffee

With a focus on health and wellness, functional coffees like cold brews and nitro coffees are popular choices. These beverages offer a refreshing alternative to traditional hot coffee.

Coffee on the Go

Convenience is key, and the younger generation often opts for grab-and-go options. People enjoy canned and bottled coffees because they are easy to take with them. These coffees come in many different flavors.

My Journey with Coffee in Japan

As I reflect on the deep connection to coffee in Japan, I am struck by the complex interplay between tradition and the global palate.

Japan’s roots intertwine with its ability to take foreign influences and make them distinctly Japanese.

From what I have seen and experienced, the future of coffee in Japan appears to be a harmonious blend of tradition and progress. It reflects a society that cherishes its past while embracing future possibilities.

The smell of coffee will continue to be a part of Japanese life. It tells a story of how they adapt, innovate, and love the tradition of making and sharing a warm cup of coffee.

I am excited about the future of coffee in Japan. I am especially interested in how the younger generation will shape this journey.

Flavors Beyond Borders

Drawing from my love for diverse tastes, I foresee an increased demand for unconventional coffee bean flavors.

The ongoing trend of infusions like matcha and yuzu speaks to the adventurous palate that seeks unique experiences.

Sustainability in Every Sip

I value mindful choices. I support sustainability. I chose a Japanese coffee shop. It is ethically sourced. It is environmentally friendly. This could become a defining factor in the choices we make for our daily cup.

Tech-Powered Coffee Rituals

Living in a tech-savvy era, I predict a deeper integration of technology into my coffee routine.

Soon, smart coffee makers and coffee apps could be essential for my daily brew.

Community Grounds

I want to connect with others and have shared experiences, so I believe coffee shops will become vibrant community spaces.

They will offer a place to savor a cup and become hubs for cultural exchange and artistic expression.

Learn more about Japan by reading our section on the Japanese lifestyle.