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Coffee Culture in Japan

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Japan is the coffee market with the largest amount of imports in Asia, with around 450,000 tons per year approximately, it is also the third country with the most imports only surpassed by the United States and Canada for 2021 (Statista, 2022).

By: María Camila Peña Mejia - Audiovisual and multimedia communication Intern CCJCI

With countless innovative products to offer consumers and unimaginable themed coffee experiences, Japan presents a unique opportunity for coffee exporters and creatives who want to enter the experiential coffee market.

The product of coffee entered Japan around 1700 at the hands of Dutch merchants. According to accounts, this was not well received at first due to its strong bitter taste, but from the Meiji period, the culture of coffee began to spread throughout the country and from that moment it began to be consumed more and more.

In 1888 the first coffee shop was opened, however, the Japanese were still reluctant and put tea and its ancient art above it. It wasn't until 1970 that the Japanese really became interested in coffee with the arrival of Doutor, which established itself as the first coffee franchise. In the 90s coffee became widely consumed and in 2005 the Japanese already had coffee as their favorite drink.

As a result of this, the market in Japan continued to grow, both coffee as the main product, as well as the ways in which coffee is tasted and experienced.

In restaurants and cafes it is customary to ask for the coffee menu in which there are innumerable mixtures and flavors, Japanese cafes are divided into three categories, which vary depending on the price and quality of the coffee. The most found category is the Kissaten, which are the traditional coffee shops, which have more establishments within the three categories; followed by the Teikakaku where the price of coffee is lower; finally there are the Koukakaku where the highest prices are offered and the quality of the coffee is superior in every way.

It is also the Japanese who boosted the popularity of themed cafes, from Neko cafes, cafes where you can be in the company of felines while enjoying your cup of coffee; to places where they put on theatrical shows, the Japanese show a deep coffee culture and a taste for this drink. More notably, in the famous vending machines there are thousands of types of coffee that range from traditional black coffee to flavored coffees with exotic flavors such as coconut or traditional fruits such as strawberries.

To meet this need for this product, Japan imports approx. 6,751 bags of coffee (in one thousand 60kg bags) (OIC, 2020). 34% of the grains come from Brazil, 16% from Colombia followed by Guatemala, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Added to this, after the COVID-19 pandemic and with the work-at-home model, the consumption of instant coffee and the "take-out" model caused coffee consumption to have a shot in demand in this new era.

Colombia and Japan, relations through coffee

Being one of the largest coffee exporters in the world, Colombia entered the Japanese market in 1962, hand in hand with the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, which had a presence in Japan since 1942. Colombian coffee was converted from At this time, it is an essential ingredient for Japanese coffee blends, since its richness, aroma, and acidity make it superior in quality and preferred for certain preparations.

It should be noted that the consumption of Colombian coffee has increased in recent years in Japan due to new consumer habits and efforts to bring innovation to the market.

These exports have been very important for the bilateral relationship between Japan and Colombia, so much so that on March 11, 2022, the general manager of the association of coffee growers, Roberto Vélez, was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star. This for his contribution to relations between the two countries and for helping Japanese firms in the country.

To conclude, Japan has a long history with coffee and it has become even more popular in recent years, in this industry the characteristics for which the Japanese are known also shine, for their attention to detail and mainly for their innovation. Let's hope that this coffee culture continues and that the relations between Japan and Colombia remain strong so that we can witness the wonders that the Japanese will do with the Colombian star product.


● Federación Nacional de Cafeteros

● Revista Semana

● Statista

● International Coffee Organization (OIC)

● El mercado de café en Japón: Oportunidades para el café colombiano

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